Saturday, June 27, 2015

Could it be the End?...

Talk about the movie "Armageddon."
-Daniel aka Obsidian

NASA Working With National Nuclear Security Administration On Plan To Use Nukes On Doomsday Asteroid

If NASA has its way, the human race won't be going the way of the dinosaurs anytime soon.
The space agency is teaming up with the National Nuclear Security Administration to work on a planetary defense plan to deflect a potential doomsday asteroid so it doesn't strike Earth, according to The New York Times.

Last week's announcement came ahead of the first official "Asteroid Day" on June 30, a day scientists hope will raise awareness of the threat posed by near-Earth objects and encourage governments to develop a better plan to detect and track them.

June 30 is the anniversary of the 1908 impact of an asteroid in Siberia that wiped out some 800 square miles of forest. The surprise impact of the 2013 Chelyabinsk meteor, which caused a 500-kiloton airburst over Russia, shows potentially threatening space rocks are still out there.
There are swarms of them orbiting between Mars and Jupiter,” Neil deGrasse Tyson, director of the Hayden Planetarium at the American Museum of Natural History in New York, said at a 2013 panel discussion of asteroids. “And some of them have orbits that come in a little too close, and cross the orbit of Earth around the Sun.”

Dealing with a threatening near-Earth object isn't as simple as aiming a nuclear weapon at it.
In 2013, researchers at the Asteroid Deflection Research Center at Iowa State University came up with a plan to use a two-section spacecraft to first smash a hole in the asteroid, then dump a nuclear weapon into the crater to blow it up.

Bong Wie, the center's director, told that 99 percent of the pieces left would miss Earth, and most of the rest would burn up in the atmosphere. However, NASA said those smaller pieces could still pose a problem, and the best approach is to deflect rather than destroy. "The trick is to gently nudge the asteroid out of harm's way and not to blow it up," the agency states on its Near Earth Objects website. Setting off a nuclear weapon above the surface of the asteroid would cause a slight change in velocity without damaging the asteroid itself. It's not exactly the big Hollywood finish, but it might be the most effective option.

"A very modest velocity change in the asteroid's motion (only a few millimeters per second), acting over several years, can cause the asteroid to miss the Earth entirely," the agency said.
NASA has also said that some asteroids may be deflected without the use of a nuclear weapon.

"For the far more numerous asteroids that are smaller than a few hundred meters in diameter, if we have adequate early warning of several years to a decade, a weighted robotic spacecraft could be targeted to collide with the object, thereby modifying its velocity to nudge the trajectory just enough that the Earth impact would be avoided," the space agency wrote in another report.
The problem, the agency said, is that we may not have "several years to a decade."

"Since the number of near-Earth asteroids increases as their sizes decrease, we are most likely to be hit by the relatively small objects that are most difficult to find ahead of time," the agency said. "As a result, consideration must also be given to the notification and evacuation of those regions on Earth that would be affected by the imminent collision of a small, recently-discovered impactor."
Although researchers are working to change that, at least one expert isn't convinced we're ready.

Retired astronaut Russell “Rusty” Schweickart, who was was part of the Apollo 9 mission in 1969, is co-founder of the B612 Foundation, an organization dedicated to planetary defense against asteroids. B612 is hoping to launch Sentinel, a privately funded spacecraft that would be able to detect and track potentially hazardous objects in space.

In an interview with Newsweek, Schweickart didn't sound especially positive about the ability of nations to unite against a global threat. “I fear there’s not enough of a collective survival instinct to really overcome the centrifugal political forces,” he said. “That is, in a nutshell, the reason we’ll get hit. Not because technically we don’t know it’s coming, or we can’t do something about it.”

The founders of Asteroid Day, which include Queen guitarist and astrophysicist Brian May, have created the 100x Asteroid Declaration, which calls on governments to increase by a hundredfold the discovery and tracking of near-Earth objects. Along with May, backers of the declaration include Bill Nye, Carolyn Shoemaker, Brian Cox, Chris Hadfield, Mark Kelly, Lord Martin Rees and Richard Dawkins, as well as Schweickart and his fellow B612 cofounder Ed Lu.

A Piece of Rag...

That's because only the flags that count were flown @ 1/2 mast. If you posted a flag of Mars on the state capital building, you wouldn't be required to lower such a silly piece of rag on such an important day. Your opinions, please.
-Daniel aka Obsidian

Confederate flag, despite massacre, still flies high

Charleston (United States) (AFP) - Flags were flying at half-staff Thursday in South Carolina after the cold-blooded killing of nine black people in an historic African-American church in Charleston -- with one notable exception.

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Outside the legislature in the state capital Columbia, the racially divisive Confederate battle flag still flies high, renewing debate over its symbolism more than 150 years after the Civil War defeat of the slave-holding rebel South.

Dylann Roof, the 21-year-old white male suspected of carrying out the Emanuel African Episcopal Methodist Church bloodbath, was one of many southern Americans who identified with the 13-star saltire in red, white and blue.

In a photo posted on Twitter by a South Carolina television journalist Thursday, Roof is seen astride a 1990s Hyundai sedan that bears a "Confederate States of America" ceremonial bumper tag that prominently features the flag. Roof was apprehended Thursday in North Carolina in the same vehicle and returned to Charleston to face charges.

By coincidence, the US Supreme Court on Thursday ruled 5-4 that Texas did not violate the Constitution's free-speech provision when it denied a request from the 30,000-member Sons of Confederate Veterans group for a state-approved Confederate flag license plate.

 The South Carolina and American flags fly at half mast as the Confederate flag unfurls below at the State Capital. "This is a sad day for the First Amendment and for mutual respect and bridge-building among Americans of different viewpoints," the organization said in a statement.

Others focused outrage on the South Carolina state house, where the Confederate flag remained at full height even as the US and South Carolina flags were lowered in mourning. "Moral cowardice requires choice and action," wrote Ta-Nehisi Coates, an African-American national correspondent for The Atlantic magazine, blogged on Thursday. "Take down the flag. Take it down now."
Alas, that's easier said than done. By law, state officials say, only the entire South Carolina legislature can decide if and when the flag can be lowered.

Barbara Owens casts a shadow on a memorial message board outside the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church. One of the victims of Wednesday's attack on the Emanuel church's evening Bible class was its senior pastor Clementa Pinckney, 41, a state senator since 2000 and a lower-house member before that. Supporters of the Confederate flag consider it a valued token of enduring Southern pride and heritage, while critics see it as a symbol of racism and white supremacy.

- 'Regardless of race' -

"The Confederate Battle Flag represents all Southern, and even Northern, Confederates regardless of race or religion and is the symbol of less government, less taxes and the right of the people to govern themselves," says Dixie Outfitters, a Virginia-based retailer of Confederate-themed merchandise.

A nationwide poll by the Pew Research Center in 2011 indicated that nine percent of Americans felt positive upon seeing the Confederate flag, against 30 percent who said they reacted negatively and 58 percent who felt neither way.

But among blacks, 41 percent told Pew said they reacted negatively to the sight of the flag -- such is its power to invoke the memory of antebellum slavery and the decades of harsh racial segregation that followed the Civil War.

Sentiments are even stronger in South Carolina, where the opening shots of the Civil War were fired in April 1861 at Fort Sumter in Charleston harbor. (The city itself was the American capital of the transatlantic slave trade, with 40 percent of enslaved Africans passing through it.)

In a 2014 poll for the State newspaper in Columbia, three out of four white South Carolina residents said the Confederate flag should keep flying outside the state house -- compared to 61 percent of blacks who wanted to see it go.

- Banned in California -

In California, since January this year, the Confederate flag cannot be displayed by state authorities, under a law initiated by a black state legislator whose mother once came across the banner for sale in a state house gift shop.

Mississippi, on the other hand, remains the only state that features the Confederate saltire on its official state flag, where it appears in the canton. An attempt to change it was soundly defeated in a 2001 referendum.

The Anti-Defamation League, best known for tackling anti-Semitism, says the Confederate flag is popular among white supremacists in both the United States and abroad. But it adds on its website: "Because of the continued use of the flag by non-extremists, one should not automatically assume that display of the flag is racist or white supremacist in nature. The symbol should only be judged in context."