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bananas

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Markey and Warren urge improved earthquake safety measures at Pilgrim, Seabrook nuclear plants

http://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2014/04/18/markey-and-warren-urge-improved-earthquake-safety-measures-pilgrim-seabrook-nuclear-plants/1EgTQZCDmgeT2wRmxwDnkJ/story.html

Quake risks at New England nuclear plants cited

Warren, Markey urge upgrades at Pilgrim, Seabrook

By Jennifer Smith | Globe Correspondent April 18, 2014

US Senators Edward J. Markey and Elizabeth Warren are calling for increased safety measures at two area nuclear power plants after a Nuclear Regulatory Commission report found potential vulnerabilities to earthquakes.

In a letter to NRC chairwoman Allison Macfarlane on Friday, Markey and Warren asked the commission to require that Pilgrim Power Station in Plymouth and Seabrook Station in Seabrook, N.H., “implement mitigation measures against seismic risks that were previously unknown.”

Following the 2011 meltdown at Japan’s Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant, which was sparked by an earthquake and tsunami, the NRC established a task force to evaluate possible vulnerabilities at US nuclear facilities and the need for enhanced regulatory oversight, according to the NRC report released Thursday.

Markey and Warren were “alarmed” by the newly evaluated seismic risks at the two area facilities, which are greater than they were originally licensed to withstand, the senators said in the letter.

NextEra Energy Seabrook Station, which runs the New Hampshire plant, said on Friday night that it will be conducting an evaluation.

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Astronauts to Reveal Sobering Data on Asteroid Impacts - Earth Day, Tuesday, April 22

http://www.universetoday.com/111278/astronauts-to-reveal-sobering-data-on-asteroid-impacts/

Astronauts to Reveal Sobering Data on Asteroid Impacts
by Jason Major on April 16, 2014

This Earth Day, Tuesday, April 22, three former NASA astronauts will present new evidence that our planet has experienced many more large-scale asteroid impacts over the past decade than previously thought… three to ten times more, in fact. A new visualization of data from a nuclear weapons warning network, to be unveiled by B612 Foundation CEO Ed Lu during the evening event at Seattle’s Museum of Flight, shows that “the only thing preventing a catastrophe from a ‘city-killer’ sized asteroid is blind luck.”

Since 2001, 26 atomic-bomb-scale explosions have occurred in remote locations around the world, far from populated areas, made evident by a nuclear weapons test warning network. In a recent press release B612 Foundation CEO Ed Lu states:

“This network has detected 26 multi-kiloton explosions since 2001, all of which are due to asteroid impacts. It shows that asteroid impacts are NOT rare — but actually 3-10 times more common than we previously thought. The fact that none of these asteroid impacts shown in the video was detected in advance is proof that the only thing preventing a catastrophe from a ‘city-killer’ sized asteroid is blind luck. The goal of the B612 Sentinel mission is to find and track asteroids decades before they hit Earth, allowing us to easily deflect them.”


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In addition to Lu, Space Shuttle astronaut Tom Jones and Apollo 8 astronaut Bill Anders will be speaking at the event, titled “Saving the Earth by Keeping Big Asteroids Away.”

The event will be held at 6 p.m. PDT at the Museum of Flight in Seattle, WA. It is free to the public and the visualization will be made available online on the B612 Foundation website. http://www.b612foundation.org/

China on course to become 'world's most Christian nation' within 15 years

Source: Telegraph

The number of Christians in Communist China is growing so steadily that it by 2030 it could have more churchgoers than America

It is said to be China's biggest church and on Easter Sunday thousands of worshippers will flock to this Asian mega-temple to pledge their allegiance – not to the Communist Party, but to the Cross.

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Officially, the People's Republic of China is an atheist country but that is changing fast as many of its 1.3 billion citizens seek meaning and spiritual comfort that neither communism nor capitalism seem to have supplied.

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"By my calculations China is destined to become the largest Christian country in the world very soon," said Fenggang Yang, a professor of sociology at Purdue University and author of Religion in China: Survival and Revival under Communist Rule.

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China's Protestant community, which had just one million members in 1949, has already overtaken those of countries more commonly associated with an evangelical boom. In 2010 there were more than 58 million Protestants in China compared to 40 million in Brazil and 36 million in South Africa, according to the Pew Research Centre's Forum on Religion and Public Life.

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By 2030, China's total Christian population, including Catholics, would exceed 247 million, placing it above Mexico, Brazil and the United States as the largest Christian congregation in the world, he predicted.

"Mao thought he could eliminate religion. He thought he had accomplished this," Prof Yang said. "It's ironic – they didn't. They actually failed completely."

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Read more: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/china/10776023/China-on-course-to-become-worlds-most-Christian-nation-within-15-years.html

Cumbrian nuclear dump 'virtually certain' to be eroded by rising sea levels

Source: Guardian

One million cubic metres of waste near Sellafield are housed at a site that was a mistake, admits Environment Agency

Britain's nuclear dump is virtually certain to be eroded by rising sea levels and to contaminate the Cumbrian coast with large amounts of radioactive waste, according to an internal document released by the Environment Agency (EA).

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The EA document estimates that the one million cubic metres of radioactive waste disposed of over the last 55 years by the civil and military nuclear industry at the site, near the Sellafield nuclear complex in west Cumbria, is going to start leaking on to the shoreline in "a few hundred to a few thousand years from now".

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Officials at the EA are considering a plan by the companies that run Drigg to dispose of a further 800,000 cubic metres of waste there over the next 100 years. This will include radioactive debris from Britain's nuclear power stations, nuclear submarines, nuclear weapons, hospitals and universities.

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Although Drigg was meant to be for low-level radioactive waste, there are fears that some of the disposals in the past may have included higher-level wastes. The rest of the nuclear industry's medium and high-level wastes are still awaiting an agreed disposal route, with successive UK governments failing for decades to find a deep burial site.

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Read more: http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/apr/20/choice-cumbria-nuclear-dump-mistake-environment-agency

SpaceX live webcast is up, launch at 3:25 pm Eastern

http://www.spacex.com/webcast/

Triggering Resilience to Depression

Source: The Scientist

Researchers at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York have reversed depression-like behaviors in mice in an unexpected way. Rather than silencing the hyperactive neurons that triggered the rodents’ symptoms, the team boosted their activity even further. This triggered a compensatory, self-tuning response that brought the neurons’ firing—and the rodents’ behaviors—back to normal.

“There’s a saying in Chinese: If you push something to an extreme, the only way it can go is in the opposite direction,” said Ming-Hu Han, who led the study, published today (April 17) in Science. Although his team needs to confirm their results in humans, Han added, “it could give us new avenues for treating depression that are conceptually very different to the classical therapeutic strategy.” Rather than identifying the cause of an illness and reversing it, it may be possible to push those causes even harder and get the body to right itself.

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Han’s team has effectively discovered the neurological version of a psychological phenomenon—resilience. “It makes us re-evaluate what it means to be resilient,” said Michelle Mazei-Robison from Michigan State University, who was not involved in the work. “We didn’t think of it as a continuum, where you almost have to push through the pathological response to bring things back into balance, rather than just having some sort of compensation. It’s a new twist, and very novel.”

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“It’s an exciting breakthrough with vast translational potential,” said Kay Tye from MIT in an e-mail. “Pushing the system one way could actually trigger the brain’s own homeostatic plasticity to push back. This could be a critical factor in the functionality of existing therapies, as well.” For example, lamotrigine is sometimes used to treat people with bipolar disorder who go through bouts of depression. “We never knew how it worked, but our study gives us an idea,” said Han.

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Read more: http://www.the-scientist.com/?articles.view/articleNo/39734/title/Triggering-Resilience-to-Depression/

NASA: new Kepler discovery, webcast 11am PST, followed by SETI webcast at 3pm PST

http://www.seti.org/seti-institute/news/join-us-two-exciting-kepler-events-thursday-april-17-11am-pst-and-3pm-pst

Join us for Two Exciting Kepler Events - Thursday April 17, at 11AM PST and 3PM PST
April 15, 2014



@3:00 PM PST, Join SETI Institute for an interview with Elisa Quintana

Streamed live on Google+ at https://plus.google.com/events/c28n72o49oio93890f7t6sre53k

We are excited to interview SETI Institute research scientist Elisa Quintana following a NASA press conference discussing her recent work. Tom Barclay, research scientist at Bay Area Environmental Research Institute at Ames, and Jason Rowe, research scientist at SETI Institute, will also join the conversion hosted by special guest Jill Tarter.

@11:00 AM PST, NASA Hosts Media Teleconference to Announce Latest Kepler Discovery

NASA will host a news teleconference at 11 a.m. PDT (2 p.m. EDT) Thursday, April 17, to announce a new discovery made by its planet-hunting mission, the Kepler Space Telescope.

The journal Science has embargoed the findings until the time of the news conference.

The briefing participants are:

-- Douglas Hudgins, exoplanet exploration program scientist, NASA's Astrophysics Division in Washington

-- Elisa Quintana, research scientist, SETI Institute at NASA's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif.

-- Tom Barclay, research scientist, Bay Area Environmental Research Institute at Ames

-- Victoria Meadows, professor of astronomy at the University of Washington, Seattle, and principal investigator for the Virtual Planetary Laboratory, a team in the NASA Astrobiology Institute at Ames

Launched in March 2009, Kepler is the first NASA mission capable of finding Earth-size planets in or near the habitable zone -- the range of distance from a star in which the surface temperature of an orbiting planet might sustain liquid water. The telescope has since detected planets and planet candidates spanning a wide range of sizes and orbital distances, including those in the habitable zone. These findings have led to a better understanding of our place in the galaxy.

The public is invited to listen to the teleconference live on UStream at: http://www.ustream.tv/channel/nasa-arc and http://www.ustream.tv/nasajpl2

Audio of the teleconference also will be streamed live at: http://www.nasa.gov/newsaudio

Questions can be submitted on Twitter using the hashtag #AskNASA.

A link to relevant graphics will be posted at the start of the teleconference on NASA's Kepler site:http://www.nasa.gov/kepler

U.S. GHG Emissions at Lowest Level in 20 Years

Source: Climate Central



U.S. greenhouse gas emissions declined 3.4 percent in 2012 from 2011, the Environmental Protection Agency announced Tuesday. Those emissions are down 10 percent from what they were in 2005, the EPA said, and are at their lowest levels since 1994.

Most of the decline came from reductions in energy consumption, increased fuel efficiency of cars and other types of transportation, and a shift to natural gas from coal in fueling power plants, the EPA said in a statement.

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Carbon dioxide accounted for more than 80 percent of the greenhouse gas emissions, methane for nearly 9 percent, nitrous oxide for just more than 6 percent and other gases for smaller percentages. Most of the carbon dioxide came from the combustion of fossil fuels like coal and natural gas, while methane came mostly from livestock, decomposition of waste in landfills and natural gas systems.

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Read more: http://www.climatecentral.org/news/u.s.-greenhouse-gas-emissions-decline-in-2012-17313

Carter urges Obama, Kerry to reject Keystone XL

Source: San Francisco Chronicle

Former President Jimmy Carter joined fellow Nobel laureates Wednesday in opposing Keystone XL, insisting that approving the pipeline would trigger "more climate upheaval" around the globe.

In an open letter to President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry, Carter and the nine other Nobel Peace Prize winners bluntly warned the leaders: "Your decision on the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline will define your climate legacy."

The missive, published as an advertisement in Politico, represents the first time Carter has taken a position on the $5.4 billion project and makes him the first former president to come out against the pipeline.

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Read more: http://www.sfchronicle.com/science/article/Carter-urges-Obama-Kerry-to-reject-Keystone-XL-5408500.php

Scientists unmask a piece in the puzzle of how the inheritance of traumas is mediated

http://medicalxpress.com/news/2014-04-scientists-unmask-piece-puzzle-inheritance.html

Scientists unmask a piece in the puzzle of how the inheritance of traumas is mediated


The consequences of traumatic experiences can be passed on from one generation to the next.
Credit: Isabelle Mansuy / UZH / ETH Zurich


The phenomenon has long been known in psychology: traumatic experiences can induce behavioural disorders that are passed down from one generation to the next. It is only recently that scientists have begun to understand the physiological processes underlying hereditary trauma. "There are diseases such as bipolar disorder, that run in families but can't be traced back to a particular gene", explains Isabelle Mansuy, professor at ETH Zurich and the University of Zurich. With her research group at the Brain Research Institute of the University of Zurich, she has been studying the molecular processes involved in non-genetic inheritance of behavioural symptoms induced by traumatic experiences in early life.

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Small RNAs with a huge impact

The researchers studied the number and kind of microRNAs expressed by adult mice exposed to traumatic conditions in early life and compared them with non-traumatized mice. They discovered that traumatic stress alters the amount of several microRNAs in the blood, brain and sperm – while some microRNAs were produced in excess, others were lower than in the corresponding tissues or cells of control animals. These alterations resulted in misregulation of cellular processes normally controlled by these microRNAs.

After traumatic experiences, the mice behaved markedly differently: they partly lost their natural aversion to open spaces and bright light and had depressive-like behaviours. These behavioural symptoms were also transferred to the next generation via sperm, even though the offspring were not exposed to any traumatic stress themselves.

Even passed on to the third generation

The metabolism of the offspring of stressed mice was also impaired: their insulin and blood-sugar levels were lower than in the offspring of non-traumatized parents. "We were able to demonstrate for the first time that traumatic experiences affect metabolism in the long-term and that these changes are hereditary", says Mansuy. The effects on metabolism and behaviour even persisted in the third generation.

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