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Member since: Tue Feb 10, 2004, 12:08 PM
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Environmental Scientist

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Thursday TOON Roundup 2- Repubs

Thursday Toon Roundup 1- Droning on….

NSA has massive database of Americans' phone calls

The more things change, the more they stay the same….

A Nova visible to the naked eye Erupts in Centaurus

Nova Centauri 2013 imaged from Săo Paulo, Brazil. (Credit: Ednilson Oliveira).

If you live in the southern hemisphere, the southern sky constellation of Centaurus may look a little different to you tonight, as a bright nova has been identified in the region early this week.

The initial discovery of Nova Centauri 2013 (Nova Cen 2013) was made by observer John Seach based out of Chatsworth Island in New South Wales Australia. The preliminary discovery magnitude for Nova Cen 2013 was magnitude +5.5, just above naked eye visibility from a good dark sky site. Estimates by observers over the past 24 hours place Nova Cen 2013 between magnitudes +4 and +5 “with a bullet,” meaning this one may get brighter still as the week progresses.

All indications are that Nova Cen 2013 is a classical nova, a white dwarf star accreting matter from a binary companion until a new round of nuclear fusion occurs. Recurrent novae such as T Pyxidis or U Scorpii may erupt erratically in this fashion over the span of decades.

Read more: http://www.universetoday.com/106932/a-naked-eye-nova-erupts-in-centaurus/

Experts say the IPCC underestimated future sea level rise

Posted on 4 December 2013 by John Abraham
It looks like past IPCC predictions of sea level rise were too conservative; things are worse than we thought. That is the takeaway message from a new study out in Quaternary Science Reviews and from updates to the IPCC report itself. The new study, which is also discussed in depth on RealClimate, tries to determine what our sea levels will be in the future. What they found isn't pretty.

Predicting of sea level rise is a challenging business. While we have good information about what has happened in the past, we still have trouble looking into the future. So, what do we know? Well it is clear that sea levels began to rise about 100 years ago. This rise coincided with increasing global temperatures.

What causes sea level to rise? Really three things. First, water expands as it heats. Second, glaciers melt and water flows to the oceans. Third, the large ice caps on Greenland and Antarctica can melt and the liquid water enters the ocean; often the water transfer is added by calving at the ice fronts which result in icebergs that float into the ocean. In the past, much of the sea level rise was related to the first cause (thermal expansion). Now, however, more and more sea level rise is being caused by melting ice.

But this is all the past. What we really want to know is, how much will sea level rise in the future? There are a number of ways to predict the future. First, we can look at the deep past and see how sea level changed with Earth temperature long ago.

A second way to predict the future is through computational models. These models are computer programs which create a virtual-reality of the Earth. These virtual reality models are very useful because they allow scientists to play "what if" scenarios; but, they have their weaknesses as well. One of their weaknesses is that they don't necessarily capture all of the phenomena which cause sea level rise. It is believed by most scientists that the computer programs are too conservative.



In the spiny forest, ring-tailed lemurs call limestone caves home

By Deborah Netburn
December 4, 2013, 1:46 p.m.
Not so long ago, the cute and curious ring-tailed lemurs of southwestern Madagascar had scientists stumped.

Each morning, for about a week, the scientists would arrive in a forest they knew to be populated by ring-tailed lemurs to find the small primates seeming to materialize out of nowhere.

Then the scientists would watch as the lemurs went about their business -- wrapping their arms and tails around each other to form a "lemur ball" for warmth, and then going out to eat baby birds, insects or whatever they could find.

It was all very cute and charming, but what the scientists wanted to know was where did these guys actually sleep?

Ring-tailed lemurs usually spend the night in the tall canopy of trees, but these lemurs were living in an unfriendly forest where the trees were lined with spines, making sleeping in them very uncomfortable, if not impossible.



Rockwell Painting Sells for $46 Million

Three of Norman Rockwell’s best-known paintings of homey, small-town America, which are among the most popular of the artist’s Saturday Evening Post covers, sold at Sotheby’s American Art auction on Wednesday morning for a total of more than $57 million.

The final price for “Saying Grace,” considered Rockwell’s masterpiece, was $46 million, after nine and a half minutes of spirited bidding. The painting, which depicts a crowded restaurant with a boy and an old woman bowing their heads in prayer, sold for more than double its high estimate, and far more than the $15.4 million price another Rockwell brought in 2006. The image had topped a Saturday Evening Post readers’ poll in 1955, four years after it was painted. (The artist was paid $3,500 for the painting — about $30,500 when adjusted for inflation.)

Another favorite, “The Gossips,” a finger-wagging montage that included Rockwell’s friends, neighbors and even the artist himself, painted in 1948, sold for $8.45 million. (When the Saturday Evening Post cover ran on March 6, 1948, the magazine was flooded with inquiries from readers wanting to know what the heads were gossiping about.)

The third major painting in the sale, “Walking to Church,” brought $3.2 million and was purchased by Rick Lapham, an American paintings dealer, on behalf of a client. Mr. Lapham was one of only two bidders for the painting. It appeared on the cover of the Saturday Evening Post in 1953, and was based on the Vermeer painting “The Little Street.” Rockwell translated the scene to his own urban street setting, depicting family members in their Easter best, each clutching Bibles, from a composite of different buildings in Troy, N.Y., and a church steeple in Vermont.


Will arrest in old Michigan murder case clear the man doing life for the crime?

By Hannah Rappleye and Lisa Riordan-Seville, NBC News

The arrest of a Michigan man in a horrific 17-year-old rape-murder case has reopened old wounds for the victim’s family and cast fresh doubt on the guilt of the man who was convicted of the crime and sentenced to life in prison.

Michigan State Police on Tuesday arrested 35-year-old Jason Anthony Ryan, of Davison, Mich., and charged him with homicide. Legal sources tell NBC News the arrest occurred after a DNA test of semen found at the scene of the murder matched Ryan’s profile in a national database.

The rape and murder of Geraldine Montgomery, a 68-year-old widow, was the worst crime in memory in Kalkaska, Mich., a town of about 2,200 residents in the northern reaches of the state. In October 1996, someone broke into her home in the village, beat and raped her, then shoved her into the trunk of her running Buick sedan and left her to asphyxiate.

Investigators homed in on Jamie Lee Peterson. In a series of interrogations, the 23-year-old, already in jail on a sex charge and with a long history of mental illness, confessed. Despite quickly recanting, he was tried, convicted and sentenced to life in prison without the chance of parole.

The outcome notwithstanding, Peterson’s defenders insist the now 39-year-old had nothing to do with Montgomery’s murder.



Edison Tech basketball coach: 'They were just there waiting for the bus'

The charges against three teens arrested while waiting for a bus last week will soon be dismissed, but as their story continues to spread around the country, they're asking for something more: an explanation.

"The young men are asking me 'Coach, why? Why were we arrested?' " said Jacob Scott, who coaches the boys — all members of Edison Tech's varsity basketball team.

The arrest touched off an outcry locally, and came under national scrutiny — a CNN camera crew was at Tuesday night's basketball game — but the answer to that question still isn't clear.

Rochester police, in an emailed statement, said the teens were arrested about 9 a.m. Nov. 27 when an officer assigned to a post at North Clinton Avenue and East Main Street saw "a group of individuals congregating on the sidewalk in front of a store on East Main Street, obstructing pedestrian traffic, and the entrance to the store." The teens didn't follow an order to disperse, the news release said, and were arrested for disorderly conduct.



70% of Chinese polled did not know that ivory came from dead elephants

By Per Liljas

Ride the subway in a Chinese metropolis like Beijing or Shanghai and chances are you’ll come across an ad depicting mutilated Chinese characters.

Xiang, the first character, means elephant, except that lacking some strokes, it is as if the animal is missing the tusks. The second and third characters stand for tiger and bear — but the missing strokes make them seem to be losing bones and gall bladder. The fourth and last character, ren, or human, is cut in half.

The ad is intended to stifle demand for the body parts of these wild animals, which in China are commonly thought to possess naturopathic benefits (or, in the case of ivory, ornamental ones). The market has soared on the back of the country’s growing wealth, and that has been a disaster for the most sought-after animals.

This year has been particularly dark, especially for ivory, the trade in which has been banned since 1989 by an international treaty. In Africa, around 100 elephants are being killed every day, by poisoning, machine guns or rocket-propelled grenade launchers fired from the ground or helicopters. Such poaching is feeding terrorist groups like al-Shabab, who conducted the deadly assault on the Westgate mall in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, in late September.

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