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Home country: USA
Current location: Georgia
Member since: Tue Feb 10, 2004, 12:08 PM
Number of posts: 33,230

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Environmental Scientist

Journal Archives

The A-10 Warthog Will Soon Be Chasing Tornados And Attacking Storms

Soon, there will be more to the A-10's original "Thunderbolt" moniker than just a name. Everyone's favorite down and dirty chariot of destruction is going geek and soon will be receiving thunderbolts instead of throwing them. A single surplus Warthog is currently undergoing transformation into the ultimate storm chasing vehicle.

A couple of years ago it was announced that the The National Science Foundation was working to get a retired A-10 bailed to them by the USAF for storm chasing tasks. The A-10 is a logical choice for this mission for multiple reasons. Along with the S-3 Viking, the A-10 uses robust, fuel-efficient, reliable and easily maintainable motors (TF-34 for the S-3 and A-10, CF-34 in the civilian world for the CRJ etc). Additionally, the Warthog's airframe is legendarily tough, which will be key fir surviving flying through hail and lightning. It can loiter for long periods of time and it has big wings with lots of stores pylons and a generous internal volume, especially with out its Avenger cannon, for experiments and computer systems. Finally, it is a relatively simple aircraft to maintain, plus it's free!

So after patiently awaiting their choice 'hog's arrival, the NSF has finally received their jet and it is undergoing some pretty extreme modifications to reach its full storm busting potential. Zivko Aeronautics, master modifiers of aircraft and unmanned systems, is doing the extensive work on the weather 'hog.

According to multiple sources, including the video posted above, the storm chasing A-10 will be able to drop dozens of sensors into tornados from above, and she will also be able to carry numerous data-pods and experiments so that scientists can better understand how to predict deadly tornado outbreaks and storm systems' life-cycles.

more with video


This Amazing Jet Will Transport Ebola Victims From Africa To The U.S.

How do you pack two patients that are infected with one of the world's deadliest viruses into a pressurized aluminum tube that is filled with healthy care takers and pilots for 12 hours and not get almost everyone infected in the process? You use this old ex-Royal Danish Air Force Gulfstream III that is highly modified to convey very ill people over very long distances.

N173PA looks like it belongs to the military, in fact the USAF and USMC have an almost identical paint job on some of their C-20 aircraft, and like N173PA, some of them also feature a massive clam-shell cargo door as well. This 32 year old Gulfstream III was once owned and operated by the Royal Danish Air Force and wore the military tailcode 'F-313' at the time. The jet still retains her original Royal Danish Air Force livery, minus the government titles and insignia of course.

'F-313' was sold to U.S. military air support provider Phoenix Air in January of 2005. Phoenix Air is well known for providing adversary support and electronic warfare training to the DoD. With their massive fleet of tiger-striped Learjets being forward based near key U.S. Naval installation, they can often be seen lugging electronic warfare pods and anti-ship missile emitter simulators.

These jets fly attack profiles on U.S. Navy ships and air defense units, mimicking the tactics and technologies of America's potential enemies. In addition to their Learjet fleet, Phoenix Air has two nearly identical Gulfstream IIIs intercontinental business jets, which are used for rapid cargo transport and air ambulance duties.



Friday TOON Roundup 3 - The Rest








Friday TOON Roundup 2 - Mid East Pileup

Also See


Friday TOON Roundup 1 - A Party Named Sue

Mark Fiore: Not Equal

There’s a tendency in some Gaza reporting to treat both sides as tough, equally-matched adversaries. Israel must stand up to those evil, deadly Hamas terrorists before the nation is overrun, eek! But if the measure of success in this conflict is the combatants-to-civilians body count ratio (and it is), then Hamas is winning handily.

As of today, Hamas has killed three civilians in Israel compared to the Israeli military killing 1,328 Palestinians. (The UN estimates 74% of those Palestinians killed are civilians.) Hamas has killed 56 Israeli soldiers and three civilians, while Israel has killed over a thousand people in Gaza and bombed multiple UN facilities and hospitals.

Sure, Hamas is made up of Islamic extremists who fire wildly inaccurate missiles at Israel, but no matter where you fall on the political spectrum or which side you support, this fight can’t be a good strategic move for the Israel.

What better way to prolong terrorism and hatred than by bombing kids playing on a beach and leveling huge chunks of one of the most densely populated cities on earth? (A place which, incidentally, the World Health Organization has predicted will be unfit for human habitation six years from now, even before this war.) Are they trying to make a little Mogadishu, right next door? What better way to get Hamas recruits than by killing families and closing off access to the outside world? It’s such a sad unnecessary tragedy, unfortunately one that is far from over. (Be sure to check out more of the news behind the cartoon here.)


Latest Rosetta image reveals terrific detail of comet's surface


The latest narrow angle camera (NAC) view from the European Space Agency's (ESA) Rosetta mission continues to reveal more details regarding Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko's surface. Taken July 29 at a distance of 1,210 miles (1,950 kilometers), one pixel corresponds to about 40 yards (37 meters). Clearly visible is the bright "neck" region connecting the two lobes of the nucleus, along with several other discrete bright patches. The reason for these features is still subject to much discussion – they could be due to differences in material or grain size, or to topographical features, for example. A dark spot close to the neck is most likely a shadowing effect. A large surface depression is apparent at the very "top" of the smaller lobe in this orientation.

This time next week, Rosetta will be within just 60 miles (100km) of the comet’s nucleus, and detailed mapping can begin in order to assess candidate landing sites for the Philae lander. For regular image updates from Rosetta, visit its ESA image page and the Rosetta blog.


CIA director John Brennan lied to you and to the Senate. Fire him

Trevor Timm

As reports emerged Thursday that an internal investigation by the Central Intelligence Agency’s inspector general found that the CIA “improperly” spied on US Senate staffers when researching the CIA’s dark history of torture, it was hard to conclude anything but the obvious: John Brennan blatantly lied to the American public. Again.

“The facts will come out,” Brennan told NBC News in March after Senator Dianne Feinstein issued a blistering condemnation of the CIA on the Senate floor, accusing his agency of hacking into the computers used by her intelligence committee’s staffers. “Let me assure you the CIA was in no way spying on or the Senate,” he said.

After the CIA inspector general’s report completely contradicted Brennan’s statements, it now appears Brennan was forced to privately apologize to intelligence committee chairs in a “tense” meeting earlier this week. Other Senators on Thursday pushed for Brennan to publicly apologize and called for an independent investigation. Sen. Ron Wyden said it well:

.@CIA broke into Senate computer files. Then tried to have Senate staff prosecuted. Absolutely unacceptable in a democracy.



An Advance in Tractor-Beam Technology

The term “tractor beam” is thought to have made its first appearance in “Spacehounds of IPC,” a sci-fi novel by Edward E. Smith published in 1947. Smith, whose work has been cited as an influence by the likes of Arthur C. Clarke, George Lucas, and J. Michael Straczynski, the creator of the show “Babylon 5,” worked as the chief chemist for a Michigan flour mill (his specialty was doughnut mixes). His best-known works, the Lensman and Skylark series, are full of imagined technologies that, like the tractor beam, were far beyond the reaches of contemporary science but nevertheless based on seemingly sound principles.

Scientists first began working on making tractor beams a reality in the nineteen-nineties, after the Russian ceramics engineer Eugene Podkletnov reported that certain small objects, when placed above a superconducting disk supported on a rotating magnetic field, lost up to two per cent of their weight. His experiment—the results of which were met with widespread, albeit somewhat knee-jerk, skepticism in the physics community—seemed to indicate that it was possible to neutralize the force of gravity, at least in part. Further experiments followed; in 2001, Podkletnov and the Italian physicist Giovanni Modanese built what they called an impulse gravity generator, a device that emitted a beam of focussed radiation in a “short repulsive force.”

Until recently, no one had managed to move anything bigger than a particle. (There was brief excitement earlier this year, when researchers from Australia and Spain successfully moved a plastic sphere fifty nanometres across—around a thousand times thinner than a human hair—by splitting a beam of light in two and using it to press in on the sphere from each side, like a pair of tweezers.) Even NASA has tried to get in on the action, although their vision seems somewhat lacking when compared with the many tractor-beam scenarios already laid out in science fiction: the team of scientists tasked with the job are supposed to come up with more efficient ways of clearing “orbital debris,” i.e., space garbage. (And they don’t look happy about it.)

Now scientists from the University of Dundee, in Scotland, have created something with a bit more muscle. While most of the documented experiments with tractor-beam technology so far have involved light waves, the team from Dundee used sound waves to manipulate a half-inch triangular prism made of metal and rubber, successfully pulling the target toward the source of the acoustic beam. Half an inch may not sound like much, but it’s a vast improvement on fifty nanometres. The experiment was part of a larger project across four U.K. universities—Bristol, Southampton, Glasgow, and Dundee—and took nine months to complete. The results have been published in Physical Review Letters.



The Kids Who Beat Autism

JULY 31, 2014

At first, everything about L.'s baby boy seemed normal. He met every developmental milestone and delighted in every discovery. But at around 12 months, B. seemed to regress, and by age 2, he had fully retreated into his own world. He no longer made eye contact, no longer seemed to hear, no longer seemed to understand the random words he sometimes spoke. His easygoing manner gave way to tantrums and head-banging. “He had been this happy, happy little guy,” L. said. “All of a sudden, he was just fading away, falling apart. I can’t even describe my sadness. It was unbearable.” More than anything in the world, L. wanted her warm and exuberant boy back.

A few months later, B. received a diagnosis of autism. His parents were devastated. Soon after, L. attended a conference in Newport, R.I., filled with autism clinicians, researchers and a few desperate parents. At lunch, L. (who asked me to use initials to protect her son’s privacy) sat across from a woman named Jackie, who recounted the disappearance of her own boy. She said the speech therapist had waved it off, blaming ear infections and predicting that Jackie’s son, Matthew, would be fine. She was wrong. Within months, Matthew acknowledged no one, not even his parents. The last word he had was “Mama,” and by the time Jackie met L., even that was gone.

In the months and years that followed, the two women spent hours on the phone and at each other’s homes on the East Coast, sharing their fears and frustrations and swapping treatment ideas, comforted to be going through each step with someone who experienced the same terror and confusion. When I met with them in February, they told me about all the treatments they had tried in the 1990s: sensory integration, megadose vitamins, therapeutic horseback riding, a vile-tasting powder from a psychologist who claimed that supplements treated autism. None of it helped either boy.

Together the women considered applied behavior analysis, or A.B.A. — a therapy, much debated at the time, that broke down every quotidian action into tiny, learnable steps, acquired through memorization and endless repetition; they rejected it, afraid it would turn their sons into robots. But just before B. turned 3, L. and her husband read a new book by a mother claiming that she used A.B.A. on her two children and that they “recovered” from autism. The day after L. finished it, she tried the exercises in the book’s appendix: Give an instruction, prompt the child to follow it, reward him when he does. “Clap your hands,” she’d say to B. and then take his hands in hers and clap them. Then she would tickle him or give him an M&M and cheer, “Good boy!” Though she barely knew what she was doing, she said, “he still made amazing progress compared with anything he’d gotten before.”

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