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A Basic Rule of Chemistry Can Be Broken, Calculations Show

A study suggests atoms can bond not only with electrons in their outer shells, but also via those in their supposedly sacrosanct inner shells

By Clara Moskowitz

Most of us learned in high school chemistry class that chemical bonds can only form when electrons are shared or given away from one atom’s outer shell to another’s. But this may not be strictly true. A chemist has calculated that under very high pressure not just the outer electrons but the inner ones, too, could form bonds.

Inside atoms, electrons are organized into energy levels, called shells, which can be thought of as buckets of increasing size that can each hold only a fixed number of electrons. Atoms prefer to have filled buckets, so if their outer shell is missing just one or two electrons, they are eager borrow form another atom that might have one or two to spare. But sometimes, a new study suggests, atoms can be incited to share not just their outer valence electrons, but those from their full inner shells. “It breaks our doctrine that the inner-shell electrons never react, never enter the chemistry domain,” says Mao-sheng Miao, a chemist at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and the Beijing Computational Science Research Center in China. Miao predicted such bonds using so-called first-principles calculations, which rely purely on the known laws of physics, and reported his findings in a paper published September 23 in Nature Chemistry. Such bonding has yet to be demonstrated in a lab. Nevertheless, “I’m very confident that this is real,” he says. (Scientific American is part of Nature Publishing Group.)



Archaeologists Discover Largest, Oldest Wine Cellar in Near East: 3,700 Year-Old Store Room

Nov. 22, 2013 — Would you drink wine flavored with mint, honey and a dash of psychotropic resins? Ancient Canaanites did more than 3,000 years ago.

Archaeologists have unearthed what may be the oldest -- and largest -- ancient wine cellar in the Near East, containing forty jars, each of which would have held fifty liters of strong, sweet wine. The cellar was discovered in the ruined palace of a sprawling Canaanite city in northern Israel, called Tel Kabri. The site dates to about 1,700 B.C. and isn't far from many of Israel's modern-day wineries.

"This is a hugely significant discovery -- it's a wine cellar that, to our knowledge, is largely unmatched in age and size," says Eric Cline chair of the Department of Classical and Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations of at The George Washington University. Cline and Assaf Yasur-Landau, chair of the Department of Maritime Civilizations at the University of Haifa, co-directed the excavation. Andrew Koh, assistant professor of classical studies at Brandeis University, was an associate director.

The team's findings will be presented this Friday in Baltimore at the annual meeting of the American Schools of Oriental Research.



‘Colossal’ New Species of Predatory Dinosaur Dwarfed Tyrannosaurs, Scientists Say

An enormous new species of predatory dinosaur has been discovered in the fossil beds of southeastern Utah, paleontologists say, a “colossal” carnivore that was the apex predator of its day — even giving tyrannosaurs a run for their money.

An artist’s rendering depicts Siats meekerorum, (pronounced see-atch), which lived 98 million years ago in what’s now southeastern Utah. (Jorge Gonzales)

Though just a juvenile, the newly found specimen measured some 9 meters long and weighed at least 4 tons at the time of its death 98 million years ago.

Adults of its kind were probably half-again as large, dwarfing the tyrannosaurs of its time, according to scientists.

But despite its familiar, T. rex-like build, this new species — named Siats after a cannibalistic, mischievous monster of Ute legend — was no tyrannosaur.

Instead, it was a member of the even rarer (and harder to pronounce) carcharodontosaurs, or “shark-toothed lizards” — a family of outsized carnivores represented in North America by only one other species.



US drone strike kills 8 in Pakistani school, 5 children

Just hours after a promise not to launch any more drone strikes against Pakistan for the duration of their peace talks with the Taliban, a US drone pounded a religious school in Hangu.

The attack killed eight people, including three teachers and five students. A number of others were wounded in the attack, and drones continued to loom overhead after the attack.

It’s noteworthy for a lot of reasons, and not just that it broke yet another promise. Hangu is not in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), where US drone strikes have almost exclusively hit, but is in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwah (KP) Province. Hitting a proper province is much more controversial within Pakistan, and a major backlash is expected on a national level.

But that may pale in comparison to the backlash on a provincial level, as the KP Province is ruled by Pakistani Tehreek-e Insaf (PTI), an anti-drone party ruled by Imran Khan which had threatened to blockade the NATO supply route through its province into occupied Afghanistan if the drone strikes didn’t end. They gave an initial deadline of November 20… the day of the latest attack, so it will likely be interpreted locally as timed explicitly to spite them.



Tory peer calls for clampdown on mooning after 40 schoolkids expose their backsides at him and wife

A Tory peer wants a clampdown on mooning after schoolkids exposed their backsides to him and his wife from a coach.

Lord James of Blackheath said his horrified wife - who is a youth justice officer - wanted boys who mooned at passers-by locked up for a year.

Businessman Lord James, 75, said the incident happened on the roads leading to Twickenham as they travelled to watch England play rugby union.

He said he had been involved in "endless attempts" to convince his wife that rugby was "a respectable pastime and not the equivalent of being found in bed with a supermodel on a Saturday afternoon".

He said he had persuaded his wife to accompany him to Twickenham for each of the last three Saturdays to watch England's Autumn Internationals.

"She was totally horrified by the sight of the school buses coming down the road to Twickenham filled full of children who were indulging in a pastime I believe is called mooning," he said.


OKC bomb squad says suspicious item was a……Burrito

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- A burrito caused a minor scare at an Oklahoma City police briefing station after a man brought the foil-wrapped object in for analysis.

Oklahoma City Police Capt. Dexter Nelson says a man discovered a Thermos-type container in his lawn Thursday afternoon and brought it to a police briefing station. Nelson says the container was heavy and had tinfoil protruding from the lid, so the man considered it suspicious.

The Oklahoman reports ( HTTP://BIT.LY/17YCP4Z ) that officers told the man to leave the container outside and the police bomb squad X-rayed the item. The analysis determined that it was only a burrito.

Although it was harmless, police aren't laughing at the incident. Nelson says anyone who finds a suspicious object should call authorities - not bring it to a police station themselves.


The End of the Empire

This is an abandoned railway station in Abkhazia, former Russian territory. It stays untouched since the collapse of USSR – the railway connection of Abkhazia and Russia stopped and railway station left out of demand so nature could take over the left-overs of Soviet architecture.



Jameis Winston Isn't The Only Problem Here: An FSU Teacher's Lament


We love the game. We love the players, too, even when they scare us.

Like the blue-chip defensive secondary leader who wrote his personal essay for an openly gay professor on the time in high school he gleefully commanded a posse to bash a girly fag near to death, caved the queer's face, and ruined his smile.

Or the hulking offensive star who brought a friend to help him corner a short, pretty instructor alone in her closet office and scare her within an inch of her life for telling the athletic department he was clowning in class.

Or the top offensive player who sought tutoring from me on a plagiarized paper while tweaking on uppers. Or the standout lineman who never showed for my lectures or turned much in except for a term paper written in someone else's voice, then magically disappeared from the class roll when I resisted the team handlers who pressed me not to fail him.

These guys are all starters at Florida State University. They're probably going to play for the national title; they're almost certainly going to go high in the NFL draft. None of them is older than 22, and they already have longer Wikipedia entries than anyone on the FSU faculty.



The Inside Story of How the NFL's Plan for Its 1st Openly Gay Player Fell Apart


TThe team had decided yes. The player had decided the same. It was set. It was going to happen. An NFL player was going to publicly say he was gay and then play in the NFL.

What happened before that moment showed how parts of the NFL are progressive and ready for change. Then, what happened next showed how the sport is still in some ways fearful of it.

The following account is based on interviews with approximately a dozen people, including team and league officials, current and former players, and gay-rights advocates. Some were directly involved with the discussions that nearly led to the first openly gay NFL player. Further illustrating the intense secrecy, delicacy and fear surrounding the subject, none of the principals wanted to be identified. They also refused to identify the team or the player.

It was early this past spring when a closeted gay player, who was a free agent, reached out to a small group of friends and told them about his sexual orientation. The friends, both current and former players, and others with NFL connections, then contacted a handful of teams to gauge their interest in the player and their comfort with that player talking openly about being gay if they signed him.


The world cannot afford to delay drastic emissions cuts, studies show

Fiona Harvey,

The world cannot afford to wait any longer to make drastic cuts in greenhouse gas emissions, two new studies have shown, as the United Nations climate change talks in Warsaw enter their final stage.

The research, published in the journal Nature Climate Change, shows that delaying reductions in carbon dioxide output would result in faster global warming, and therefore be more difficult to counteract in future years. This contradicts the arguments that some climate sceptics have put forward that drastic cuts can be delayed until future years, because of the current "pause" in global temperature increases, and the finding by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that the climate may be slightly less sensitive to the impact of rising carbon levels than the previous highest estimates.

The authors found that as carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere accumulate over time, "what happens after they peak is as relevant for long-term warming as the size and timing of the peak itself", and this would imply "sustained emissions reductions are necessary if warming is to be kept below any agreed limit".

Myles Allen, professor of geosystem science at Oxford University, lead author of one of the studies, said: "Unless we assume the long-suffering taxpayers of the 2020s somehow manage to compensate for continued procrastination now, peak carbon dioxide induced warming is increasing at the same rate as emissions themselves – at almost 2% a year – which is much faster than the observed warming."


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