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Member since: Tue Feb 10, 2004, 01:08 PM
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Environmental Scientist

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China will launch a Mars rover in 2020

China has announced new details of its mission to explore Mars, indicating that it intends to send an uncrewed spacecraft to the red planet in just four years' time, with a planned launch occurring sometime in 2020.

The project will include three components: an orbiter, a lander, and a rover. "What we want to achieve is to orbit Mars, land, and deploy the rover in one mission, which will be quite difficult to achieve," China's National Space Administration director Xu Dazhe told media in Beijing last Friday.

The aim of the mission will be to study Mars' surface and atmosphere, analysing soil and looking for any traces of water that can hopefully be found.

"Researching these matters is really researching humanity itself and the origins of life," said Xu. "Only by completing this Mars probe mission can China say it has truly embarked on the exploration of deep space."



Bernie Sanders is on pace to take more than 60 percent of the vote in the Cal's June 7 primary.

Bernie Sanders needs something huge in order to turn the race against Hillary Clinton, and a new poll analysis suggests that he could have it in the form of a big win in California.

After a winning streak that stretched across most of April, Sanders ended the month by suffering losses in the New York primary followed by poor showing in the eastern seaboard states that voted last Tuesday. With the wins, Hillary Clinton has built up a large and nearly insurmountable delegate lead, leaving Sanders to hope for a game-changer in the upcoming primaries.

One new analysis shows there could be hope at the end of the line for Sanders. An analysis of California polls from Political Analyzer found that Bernie Sanders is on pace to take more than 60 percent of the vote in the state’s June 7 primary.

“The current situation in California tells us that the strength of Vermont Senator is still great and he’s by far the most popular politician,” the analysis found.

Read more at http://www.inquisitr.com/3050424/bernie-sanders-polls-desperately-seeking-momentum-sanders-may-now-have-it-new-analysis-predicts-a-61-percent-win-in-california/

Theorists perplexed by hints of unexpected new particle

Physicists may soon know if a potential new subatomic particle is something beyond their wildest dreams — or if it exists at all.

Hints of the new particle emerged last December at the Large Hadron Collider. Theorists have churned out hundreds of papers attempting to explain the existence of the particle —assuming it’s not a statistical fluke. Scientists are now beginning to converge on the most likely explanations.

“If this thing is true, it’s huge. It’s very different than what the last 30 years of particle physics looked like,” says theoretical physicist David Kaplan of Johns Hopkins University.

The speculation was triggered by a subtle wiggle in data from two experiments, ATLAS and CMS, at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN (SN: 1/9/16, p. 7). The bump suggests a new particle that decays into two photons, but what that particle might be is unclear — its properties don’t line up with scientists’ expectations.

“I’m not aware of anybody who’d predicted the existence of such a particle,” says John Ellis of King’s College London. “There’s a dish on the table that nobody can remember ordering.”



It’s Official: Maine Will Be Voting On Marijuana Legalization This November

It’s official – Maine voters will see marijuana legalization on the ballot when they vote in the General Election in November. The marijuana legalization initiative made the ballot after a legal battle that seemed ridiculous from the start. Below is a press release from the campaign:

State officials announced Wednesday that a proposed initiative to end marijuana prohibition in Maine has officially qualified for the November ballot.

After a court-ordered review of petitions it had previously invalidated, the Maine Secretary of State’s Office determined the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol submitted more than the 61,123 signatures that were needed to qualify.

Last month, the secretary of state informed the campaign that the initiative had been disqualified because only 51,543 valid signatures had been submitted. The campaign filed a lawsuit challenging the decision, and a Kennebec County Superior Court judge ruled in their favor earlier this month after learning state officials invalidated more than 5,000 petitions —which included more than 17,000 signatures from Maine voters that were validated by town clerks — without actually reviewing every petition in question. The petition was then remanded to the Secretary of State’s Office to review all of the disputed petitions and determine whether enough valid signatures were collected.



Stunning jellyfish, captured on film by the NOAA

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, (NOAA) released an extremely impressive video of a jellyfish seen on April 24. The video was captured during a deepwater exploration of the Enigma Seamount of the Marianas at 3,700 meters beneath the surface.

The stunning jellyfish that appears in the video has been identified by scientists as belonging to a group of jellies known as genus Crossota. According to the NOAA, the extended, long motionless tentacles on the jellyfish suggests it is in ambush predation mode.


Scientists Discover 'Woolly Wolf' Is Likely a New Species

The enigmatic Himalayan wolf —popularly known as the "woolly wolf" — has long vexed taxonomists, but now an international research team says they believe the animal is likely a new species of wolf and not a subspecies of the gray wolf as was previously thought.

As described in a new study published in the journal ZooKeys, after discovering the wolf in the Annapurna Conservation Area of Nepal, Madhu Chetris, a graduate student at Hedmark University College in Norway and a team of scientists analyzed the wolf's mitochondrial DNA through its droppings. According to National Geographic, after conducting DNA laboratory tests, the researchers found that the Himalayan wolf was "significantly different from any other wolves and is likely a distinct species."

"Frequent sightings and observation in the wild made me little bit suspicious as they look totally different of what was previously assumed to be a Gray wolf Canis lupus that roam in the Himalayas of Nepal before (these) findings," Chetris told weather.com in an email. "It hit me 10 years ago, when I encountered these animals visually and finally with the recent DNA technology identification of the animal become possible. We compared with the available sequences so far described on wolves and confirmed that the species belong to Himalayan wolf lineage that were not reported previously from the wild from Nepal Himalayas."



House GOP Blocks Troops’ Abortion Care Access

An effort to lift the ban prohibiting military facilities from providing on-site abortion care failed Wednesday in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Reps. Jackie Speier (D-CA) and Marc Veasey (D-TX) sought to enable service members and their dependents to pay out of pocket for abortion care at defense medical facilities (MTFs). Under federal law enacted in 1996, the U.S. Department of Defense cannot provide abortion care at such facilities, even if a pregnant person shoulders the cost, except in cases of rape, incest, and danger to the pregnant person’s life.

Speier during a marathon markup introduced the amendment in the House Armed Services Committee, which considered legislation (HR 4909) setting the fiscal year 2017 parameters for national defense. The National Abortion Federation (NAF), a professional association of abortion providers, sent the committee a provider letter and coalition letter in support of lifting the ban on abortion care in MTFs. NARAL Pro-Choice America offered support via a fact sheet.

The amendment failed by a vote of 37 to 25.


Mr. Fish Toon- Respect us...

GOP Suddenly Takes Its Antigay Crusade to Congress

Republicans in Congress are using defense funding to help pass a "religious freedom" law through Congress.

The House Armed Services Committee on Thursday approved a "religious freedom" amendment to the defense authorization bill. It would undo an executive order from President Obama that prohibits government contractors from engaging in anti-LGBT discrimination against their employees.

The amendment, introduced by Rep. Steve Russell, could be compared to the "religious freedom" laws that caused outrage in Indiana, Arizona, Georgia and elsewhere. In this case, it would limit the federal government to protecting only those groups now named in the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the American with Disabilities act, reports the Washington Blade. Neither of those laws protect LGBT people from discrimination, therefore Russell's amendment would allow religious organizations doing business with the U.S. government to fire or punish any employee based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Polls often show that Americans mistakenly believe discrimination against LGBT people is already illegal. To add federal protection for sexual orientation and gender identity in employment and numerous other areas, activists have backed the Equality Act, a bill which would amend the Civil Rights Act. But that idea is stalled in the Republican-controlled Congress.



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