Thursday, November 12, 2015

The Distance past Unthawed

As the ice thaws, more will be revealed.
-Daniel aka Obsidian

Deep beneath Antarctica's ice, signs of bizarre cosmic particles

An observatory on the southern continent has detected high-energy neutrinos, some of which come from beyond our galaxy.

By Jesse Emspak, LiveScience August 23, 2015   
Buried deep in the Antarctic ice, an observatory has spotted ghostly, nearly massless particles coming from inside our galaxy and points beyond the Milky Way.

Finding these cosmic neutrinos not only confirms their existence but also sheds light on the origins of cosmic rays, the researchers said.

The IceCube Neutrino Observatory is made up of 86 shafts dug 8,000 feet into the ice near the South Pole. The shafts are equipped with detectors that look for the telltale light from high-energy particles plowing through the surrounding ice. [See Photos of the IceCube Observatory Buried in Ice]
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Neutrinos have little mass, and zip through matter so easily that a block of lead a light-year across wouldn't stop them. These elusive particles come from high-energy sources: exploding stars, black holes and galactic cores among them.

Though they don't interact much with matter, occasionally one will hit an atomic nucleus on Earth. When that happens the neutrino generates a particle called a muon. That's what scientists look for when seeking neutrinos — the muons move faster than the speed of light in a solid (ice in this case) and generate light waves, like the wake of a boat in water, called Cherenkov radiation. They also show the paths of the neutrinos. (The speed of light is constant in a vacuum, but it is slower in a medium like ice or glass — this is what causes refraction. So the muons aren't actually breaking the speed of light limit). 

The IceCube project found neutrinos from outside our galaxy in 2013, but to confirm that detection the researchers, led by a team at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, had to make sure these neutrinos weren't coming from sources within our own galaxy (such as from the sun). To do so, they looked for neutrinos with similar energies that were coming from all directions at the same rate, meaning they are independent of the Earth's rotation and orbit around the sun — the only way that can happen is if the source is outside the galaxy.

The scientists also had to filter out muons created when cosmic rays crash into the planet's atmosphere. They used the Earth itself to weed out most of these muons, pointing the observatory through the Earth and toward the sky in the Northern Hemisphere (which is "down" with respect to Antarctica).

Over two years, between May 2010 and May 2012, the observatory logged more than 35,000 neutrinos, with 20 of those showing high enough energies to suggest they came from cosmic sources.

Those 20 neutrinos, called muon neutrinos, came from the opposite direction, but at approximately the same rate, as similar neutrinos observed in earlier runs. Since the rate at which they showed up was about the same throughout the observation, it means it didn't matter where the observatory was pointed as a result of the daily rotation and yearly orbit of the Earth — the result predicted for extragalactic neutrinos. [Wacky Physics: The Coolest Little Particles in Nature]

"At least a fraction of that flux is extragalactic origin," Albrecht Karle, a UW-Madison professor of physics and one of the senior authors of the new study, told Live Science. "This was a new discovery."

Those observations also told them something else: The energies of the muon neutrinos, and their numbers, didn't fit well with several models of their origins. The scientists don't address it deeply in their study ("We leave that to theorists," Karle said), but the data appear to show these muon neutrinos are probably not coming from gamma-ray bursts (GRBs), which are highly energetic events in space.

"There are some stringent upper limits of neutrinos from GRBs — we know they don't produce that many," he said.

Similarly, active galactic nuclei don't seem to be the culprit, either, though Karle said it's too soon to say for sure.

Other possibilities are galaxies going through bouts of rapid star formation, or masses of gas and dust that surround black holes at the galactic centers. As atoms get pulled into the maw of a black hole, they slam into each other more often at higher energies. Eventually some produce pions, neutrinos and photons. If that were the case, Karle said, then one would expect a nearly one-to-one ratio of high-energy neutrinos to accompanying photons. But that hasn't been confirmed or refuted yet.

Monday, November 09, 2015

A Few Good Women

This is a major breakthrough in U.S. Army tradition & a great start! Making it through Ranger training is NO joke.
-Daniel aka Obsidian

Two US soldiers become symbols of new generation of female fighters


Washington (AFP) - When two young women graduate from the US Army's prestigious Ranger School on Friday, they will cement their places at the forefront of a new generation of females in combat roles.

Local media have identified the two as Captain Kristen Griest, a military police officer from Connecticut, and 1st Lieutenant Shaye Haver of Texas, an Apache attack helicopter pilot.
They became the first women to complete the Ranger School combat leadership course that constitutes one of the most physically and mentally challenging military training programs.
Over a period lasting at least 61 days, participants endure patrol and combat simulations in the toughest of environments while often deprived of food and sleep.

Despite having made it this far, however, the two women will still not be allowed to serve with the elite 75th Ranger Regiment, which has yet to lift its ban on female soldiers.
But the Pentagon is putting finishing touches on a plan that would allow women access to all military posts, with a few exceptions which the Secretary of Defense will rule on in January 2016.

The success of Griest and Haver provides a welcome boost for backers of full gender equality in the military. The notoriously challenging Ranger School welcomed women for the first time this year, following President Barack Obama's 2013 request that the Pentagon order all branches of the armed forces to open up ground combat roles to women by 2016.

In an effort to show that the female participants in the program were treated the same as their male counterparts, the Army took special care to invite some reporters to see for themselves this summer.
The military's top brass seems keen to lift all restrictions on women -- provided they meet the criteria for specific positions.

"If they can meet the standard, they should be able to go, and they should be able to earn their Ranger tab. And I think that's how we want to operate as we move forward," the now retired army chief of staff, General Ray Odierno, said earlier this month. Admiral Jonathan Greenert, outgoing chief of naval operations, seemed to echo that sentiment, telling Defense News that the US Navy plans to open its famed SEAL fighting units to women, provided they can pass the notoriously difficult training course.

"Why shouldn't anybody who can meet these (standards) be accepted? And the answer is, there is no reason," he was quoted as saying. The Navy SEALs have carried out some of America's most dangerous and storied raids, including the May 2011 killing of Osama bin Laden, the late Al-Qaeda leader, in Pakistan. Some experts argue that in actual fact women are already in the line of fire, especially in wars without any clearly defined frontlines such as those the United States fought in Iraq and Afghanistan.

For example, women found themselves at the sides of special US forces during night raids in Afghanistan, and were tasked with establishing contact with Afghan women who would never have spoken to men.

- Debate not over -
The debate is not over. The military's services are putting final touches on their recommendations and are due to submit their requests for exceptions to opening up posts to women by the end of September.

But the Center for Military Readiness, for one, said on its website it "takes issue with Obama Defense Department leaders and 'politicians in uniform'" who "are putting gender politics above national security and the best interests of both women and men in the military."

"All of them are disregarding previously undisclosed military combat experiments, which show injury rates among women twice as high as men's," it said. For now, about 220,000 positions -- or roughly 10 percent -- remain closed to women.

Wednesday, November 04, 2015

Giant asteroid Heading Toward Earth?

 Think this might have something 2 do with Operation Jade Helm 15?
-Daniel aka Obsidian

Viral false asteroid report leads to NASA denial


False reports are swirling the Internet that a major asteroid is taking aim at Earth and could hit and cause massive destruction next month. The reports are so viral that NASA is responding, trying to flush that rumor.

"There is no asteroid threatening Earth," NASA declared in a press release issued Tuesday afternoon.
The NASA release goes on to say that "numerous recent blogs and web postings are erroneously claiming that an asteroid will impact Earth, sometime between Sept. 15 and 28, 2015."

Those reports apparently are far more specific about the location of the impact than they are about the date it might occur, even though a difference of an hour or two of Earth spinning would mean the difference of thousands of miles on an impact location. And the difference of 14 days would mean, well, who knows where it might hit? Whatever date it was supposed to hit, it would hit near Puerto Rico, NASA says the false reports typically state.

"There is no scientific basis -- not one shred of evidence -- that an asteroid or any other celestial object will impact Earth on those dates," Paul Chodas, manager of NASA's Near-Earth Object office at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, states in the release.

"If there were any object large enough to do that type of destruction in September, we would have seen something of it by now," he states.

Another thing Chodas and his team do know -- this isn't the first time a wild, unsubstantiated claim of a celestial object about to impact Earth has been made, and unfortunately, it probably won’t be the last, NASA reported.  It seems to be a perennial favorite of the World Wide Web, NASA's release notes.

Here's a link to the full NASA release. And here's a link to NASA's asteroid-watch project's webpage.