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n2doc

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Member since: Tue Feb 10, 2004, 01:08 PM
Number of posts: 43,186

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Environmental Scientist

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New X-ray space observatory to study black holes and history of galaxy clusters

Black hole enthusiasts, galaxy cluster aficionados, and X-ray astronomers have much to be excited about. On Friday, Feb. 12, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) will be launching their sixth satellite dedicated to X-ray astronomy, ASTRO-H, from the Tanegashima Space Center in Kagoshima, Japan. The observatory carries a state-of-the-art instrument and two telescope mirrors built at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. The launch is scheduled at 3:45 a.m. EST.

ASTRO-H is expected to provide breakthroughs in a wide variety of high-energy phenomena in the cosmos, ranging from the superheated material on the brink of falling into a black hole to the evolution of vast galaxy clusters. It is equipped with four advanced instruments covering a broad energy range, from low-energy, or "soft," X-rays around 300 electron volts (eV) to soft gamma rays up to 600,000 eV. For comparison, the energy of visible light spans about 2 to 3 eV.

"We see X-rays from sources throughout the universe, wherever the particles in matter reach sufficiently high energies," said Robert Petre, chief of Goddard's X-ray Astrophysics Laboratory and the U.S. project scientist for ASTRO-H. "These energies arise in a variety of settings, including stellar explosions, extreme magnetic fields, or strong gravity, and X-rays let us probe aspects of these phenomena that are inaccessible by instruments observing at other wavelengths."

ASTRO-H is capable of observing X-ray sources, like galaxy clusters and neutron stars, more than 10 times fainter than its predecessor, Suzaku, which operated from 2005 to 2015. To achieve this, ASTRO-H uses four co-aligned focusing X-ray telescopes and a suite of cutting-edge instruments that provide simultaneous coverage across the observatory's entire energy range.


Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2016-02-x-ray-space-observatory-black-holes.html#jCp

Stephen Colbert Grills Bernie Sanders: Isn’t This ‘Class Warfare?’

Bernie Sanders stopped by for a victory lap during his second appearance on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert Wednesday night, where the host made him defend his “revolution.”

Bernie Sanders continued his New Hampshire victory lap Wednesday night by making his second appearance on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. And while he was still a major underdog when he visited Stephen Colbert last September, this time he was riding high.

The senator from Vermont began by crashing Colbert’s monologue. When the host protested that the show should begin with him alone standing on stage and telling jokes, Sanders replied, “That’s what the elites want you to think.”

“You’ve got to go your own way, follow your own heart, the revolution is possible,” Sanders told Colbert before delivering the final line of the monologue. “Last night, Bernie Sanders won the New Hampshire primary by 22 points. No joke!”

When Sanders entered as Colbert’s guest later in the show, he quickly faced questions about how he managed to win 86 percent of voters 18-24 in New Hampshire. “By definition, young people are idealistic,” he said. “And they look at a world with so many problems and they say, why not? Why can’t all people in this country have healthcare? Why can’t we make public colleges and universities tuition-free?”

more
http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2016/02/11/stephen-colbert-grills-bernie-sanders-isn-t-this-class-warfare.html

Mississippi lawmaker admits his education bill is to protect creationism

Mississippi is the latest US state to see a bill introduced that would protect teachers who injected bogus information into science classes. In that regard, there's nothing new; South Dakota beat it to the punch this year. The text of the bill is also unremarkable, fitting right in to the family tree of similar legislation that's been introduced over the years (see sidebar).

What is unusual in this case is that the lawmaker behind the bill is being very upfront about his purposes. “I just don’t want my teachers punished in any form or fashion for bringing creationism into the debate," Representative Mark Formby told The Clarion-Ledger. "Lots of us believe in creationism.” The bill he introduced would protect teachers from any disciplinary actions triggered by their discussion of it into the classroom.

n most cases, the people behind these bills avoid publicly admitting their intentions. In that way, they can pretend that the language of the bill (which ostensibly protects scientific information) has a purely secular purpose. By giving the game away—the language is a sham, and the bill is meant to allow proselytizing in the science classroom—Formby has created a record that will undoubtedly resurface should his bill pass and trigger a lawsuit.

Most years, several states see variations on this bill's language introduced in their legislatures. In most cases, the people involve avoid going on the record in admitting their goal is cultural, rather than educational. Formby has made it clear why this language is used. As with many of these bills, it's not just evolution that's being attacked here. The language also mentions the chemical origins of life, global warming, and human cloning.

more
http://arstechnica.com/science/2016/02/mississippi-lawmaker-admits-his-education-bill-is-to-protect-creationism/

Elizabeth Warren Urges CDC To Look At Pot As Potential Fix To Prescription Painkiller Epidemic

American political leaders around the country are casting about for a policy response to the widespread abuse of opioid painkillers that doesn’t replicate the mistakes of past punitive approaches to drug use.

Now, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) has thrown her clout into that push for solutions – and in a way that underscores the injustices of the War on Drugs over the past several decades.

Warren is asking the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to research how medical and recreational marijuana might help alleviate the opioid epidemic. In a letter sent Monday to CDC head Dr. Thomas Friedan, Warren urged the agency to finalize its guidance to physicians on the dos and don’ts of prescribing oxycodone, fentanyl, and other popular drugs in this category.

But she also went further, asking Friedan “to explore every opportunity and tool available to work with states and other federal agencies on ways to tackle the opioid epidemic and collect information about alternative pain relief options.” Those alternatives should include pot, Warren wrote. She went on the ask Friedan to collaborate with other federal health agencies to investigate how medical marijuana is or isn’t working to reduce reliance on highly addictive prescription pills, and to research “the impact of the legalization of medical and recreational marijuana on opioid overdose deaths.”

more
http://thinkprogress.org/health/2016/02/10/3748383/elizabeth-warren-marijuana-opioid-epidemic/

Elizabeth Warren Urges CDC To Look At Pot As Potential Fix To Prescription Painkiller Epidemic

American political leaders around the country are casting about for a policy response to the widespread abuse of opioid painkillers that doesn’t replicate the mistakes of past punitive approaches to drug use.

Now, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) has thrown her clout into that push for solutions – and in a way that underscores the injustices of the War on Drugs over the past several decades.

Warren is asking the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to research how medical and recreational marijuana might help alleviate the opioid epidemic. In a letter sent Monday to CDC head Dr. Thomas Friedan, Warren urged the agency to finalize its guidance to physicians on the dos and don’ts of prescribing oxycodone, fentanyl, and other popular drugs in this category.

But she also went further, asking Friedan “to explore every opportunity and tool available to work with states and other federal agencies on ways to tackle the opioid epidemic and collect information about alternative pain relief options.” Those alternatives should include pot, Warren wrote. She went on the ask Friedan to collaborate with other federal health agencies to investigate how medical marijuana is or isn’t working to reduce reliance on highly addictive prescription pills, and to research “the impact of the legalization of medical and recreational marijuana on opioid overdose deaths.”

more

http://thinkprogress.org/health/2016/02/10/3748383/elizabeth-warren-marijuana-opioid-epidemic/

Fallout from climate ruling lands quickly

By ANDREW RESTUCCIA and ALEX GUILLÉN

The Supreme Court’s decision to slam the brakes on President Barack Obama’s most important climate regulation had an immediate impact at home and abroad Wednesday, prompting several states to halt their carbon-cutting efforts while sowing doubts internationally about the United States’ ability to meet its promises.

Just two months after cinching a historic climate deal in Paris, the Obama administration is in damage-control mode thanks to the justices’ surprise 5-4 action Tuesday. The White House tried to downplay the effect of the ruling — but even some big supporters of Obama’s climate efforts said its impact could be devastating.

“This arbitrary roadblock does incalculable damage and undermines America's climate leadership,” California Gov. Jerry Brown said in a statement.

Brown, whose state previously implemented a cap-and-trade system to reduce greenhouse gas pollution, has already vowed to keep up California’s climate efforts. But leaders of other states said Wednesday that they are halting work on complying with the EPA’s climate regulation for power plants until the Supreme Court makes a final ruling, which almost certainly won’t happen until after Obama leaves the White House.


Read more: http://www.politico.com/story/2016/02/climate-ruling-fallout-barack-obama-219099#ixzz3zoEqlhRr



These nuns will get you high — as heaven

Holy smokes — these nuns are really working for a higher power!


The Sisters of the Valley in Merced, Calif., grow medicinal marijuana in their garage for various pot-laced health products.

While Sisters Kate and Darcy don traditional habits, they are not Catholic. But they still consider themselves nuns with a calling to heal the sick — with pot.

“We spend no time on bended knee, but when we make our medicine it’s a prayerful environment. It’s a prayerful time,” Kate told KFSN-TV.

more
http://nypost.com/2016/02/09/these-nuns-will-get-you-high-as-heaven/

Central Appalachia flatter due to mountaintop mining

Forty years of mountaintop coal mining have made parts of Central Appalachia 60 percent flatter than they were before excavation, says new research by Duke University.

The study, which compares pre- and post-mining topographic data in southern West Virginia, is the first to examine the regional impact of mountaintop mines on landscape topography and how the changes might influence water quality.

"There hasn't been a large-scale assessment of just the simple full topographic impact of mountaintop mining, which occupies more than 10 percent of the land in the region we studied," said Matthew Ross, an ecology PhD student and lead author on the study.

" the impact is deep and extensive," Ross said. "It is locally large and more wide-ranging than other forms of mining." The study is published online in the journal Environmental Science and Technology.

more
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/02/160205134955.htm
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