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11,700 Satellites in Low Earth Orbit...what could possibly go wrong?  ::)


Elon Musk explains how SpaceX Starlink internet satellites will fund his Mars vision
Published an hour agoUpdated Moments Ago
Michael Sheetz
Key Points

    A internet satellite network for consumers is how CEO Elon Musk believes SpaceX can “generate revenue that can be used to develop more and more advanced rockets and spaceships,” he said on Wednesday.
    Starlink is SpaceX’s ambitious plan to build an interconnected internet satellite network to beam high speed internet to anywhere on the planet.
    “At this point it looks like we have sufficient capital to get to an operational level,” Musk said of Starlink.

Jim Watson | AFP | Getty Images

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk explained on Wednesday how the company’s Starlink satellite network will be the company’s money-maker, key to unlocking his vision of sending astronauts to Mars.

Hours before the company’s first full launch of Starlink satellites on a call with media, Musk went into detail about how the company’s satellites will work and how many SpaceX can launch.

Starlink represents the company’s ambitious plan to build an interconnected internet satellite network, also known as a “constellation,” to beam high speed internet to anywhere on the planet. The full Starlink network would consist of 11,943 satellites flying close to the planet, closer than the International Space Station, in what is known as low Earth orbit.

“We see this as a way for SpaceX to generate revenue that can be used to develop more and more advanced rockets and spaceships,” Musk said.

“We believe we can use the revenue from Starlink to fund Starship,” Musk added.

SpaceX has built and launched its Falcon series of rockets more than 70 times. While the rockets rank among the most powerful in the world, Musk’s ultimate vision is to send humans to live on Mars – which requires even larger rockets. That’s where Starship comes in, the massive rocket SpaceX has begun testing over the last few months. Starship is designed to be a fully reusable launch system, to transport as many as 100 people at a time to-and-from the moon or Mars.

On the call, Musk clarified that SpaceX’s recent fundraising rounds “have been oversubscribed.” He said SpaceX has enough funding to build and launch enough Starlink satellites to begin using the network.

“At this point it looks like we have sufficient capital to get to an operational level,” Musk said.

Musk shared a photo of the 60 Starlink satellites on Saturday after they were packed into the nosecone of the Falcon 9 rocket.

SpaceX “Starlink” satellites stacked inside the nosecone of its rocket before launch.
@ElonMusk on Twitter

SpaceX launched two demonstration satellites in February 2018 but much of the program, and the satellites’ design, remained unknown. Although Musk fired the head of the Starlink program in June – a vice president who Jeff Bezos promptly hired to develop a similar network – SpaceX has continued to advance the program quickly. In filings with the Federal Communications Commission, SpaceX noted a few changes to its plans, such as that the first part of Starlink would operate at a “very low Earth orbit.” SpaceX also submitted an application this year to operate 1 million “earth stations” in the U.S., key to connecting the satellites to the ground.

Musk said SpaceX will need “6 more launches of 60” satellites per launch to get “minor coverage” for the internet network. A dozen launches, or 720 satellites, are needed “for moderate” coverage,” he added.

He went into more technical details about the satellites’ design and capabilities than previously disclosed. Each Starlink satellite has “about a terabit of useful connectivity,” Musk said.

Starlink is one of the keys to the financing SpaceX’s future endeavors. Yet it also is an “absolutely insane” project requiring likely billions of dollars of investment to get operational, Musk has said.

“SpaceX has to be incredibly spartan with expenditures until those programs reach fruition,” Musk said in January. Musk blamed layoffs at SpaceX in January in part due to Starlink.

SpaceX is one of several of these constellations in development, competing with Softbank-backed OneWeb, Amazon’s Project Kuiper, Canadian operator Telesat and more. These ambitious satellite networks will require intensive capital, with some industry officials estimating costs running as high as $5 billion.

The satellite constellations expect to offer broadband speeds comparable to fiber optic networks, according to federal documents, by essentially creating a blanket connection across the electromagnetic spectrum. The satellites would offer new direct-to-consumer wireless connections, rather than the present system’s redistribution of signals.

Interesting technology, but I really need to see the chemistry on this.  Something doesn't smell right.


May 13, 2019
Energy from seawater: Power generator autonomously switches between two functional modes

by Wiley

Underwater vehicles, diving robots, and detectors require their own energy supply to operate for long periods independent of ships. A new, inexpensive system for the direct electrochemical extraction of energy from seawater offers the advantage of also being able to handle short spikes in power demand, while maintaining longer term steady power. To do so, the system can autonomously switch between two modes of operation, as researchers report in the journal Angewandte Chemie.

Charting submarine landforms, currents, and temperatures, and inspecting and repairing pipelines and deep-sea cables are just a few examples of tasks carried out autonomously by underwater devices in the depths of the ocean. Under these extreme conditions, the challenge for power generators is to produce both a high energy density (long run time with basic power use) and high power density (short-term high current flow) for activities such as rapid movement or action of a gripper.

Liang Tang, Hu Jiang, and Ming Hu and their team from the East China Normal University in Shanghai, Shanghai University, and the Chinese Research Academy of Environmental Sciences in Beijing, China, have taken inspiration from marine organisms that can switch their cell respiration between aerobic and anaerobic modes by using different materials as electron acceptors. The researchers have designed a new power generator that works by the same principles.

The key to the discovery is a cathode made of Prussian blue, an open framework structure with cyanide ions as "struts" and iron ions as "nodes", which can easily accept and release electrons. When combined with a metal anode, this structure can be used to generate electricity from seawater.

If the power demand is small, the electrons flowing into the cathode are transferred directly to dissolved oxygen. Because dissolved oxygen in seawater is inexhaustible, power at low current can theoretically be provided for an unlimited time. However, the concentration of dissolved oxygen is low. When the power demand, and thus current, are sharply increased, there is not enough oxygen at the cathode to immediately take up all of the incoming electrons. The Prussian blue must therefore store these electrons by reducing the oxidation state of the iron atoms from +3 to +2. To maintain a charge balance, positively charged sodium ions lodge within the framework. Because these are present in high concentration in seawater, many sodium ions—and therefore many electrons—can be absorbed in a short time. When the current demand slows down, electrons are transferred to oxygen once again, oxygen regenerates the framework, Fe(2+) is oxidized to Fe(3+), and the sodium ions depart.

This new system is very stable in corrosive seawater and can withstand numerous mode switches. It ran continuously for four days in its high-energy mode without losing power. The high-power mode was able to supply 39 light-emitting diodes and a propeller.

Why anyone would buy that dogshit at any price is beyond me.  ::)


Congratulations to Uber, the Worst Performing IPO in U.S. Stock Market History
Bryan Menegus
Yesterday 5:40pm

Photo: Spencer Platt (Getty)

Rideshare unicorn Uber doesn’t do anything small. When it was in the game of raising money, it raised close to $25 billion. When it loses that money—and it does every single quarter—it loses it at astronomical burn rates. It finally debuted on the New York Stock Exchange today, in the middle of international trade uncertainty and following a massive, international strike by its own drivers, how’d it do?

According to University of Florida professor Jay Ritter, Uber’s 7.62 percent decline since hitting the NYSE makes it “bigger than first day dollar losses of any prior IPO in the U.S.”

In terms of percentage losses, Uber’s dip doesn’t even scratch the surface of the worst IPOs. But the staggering valuation of the company makes it, in raw scale, “among the top 10 IPOs ever” including companies outside the U.S., Ritter told Gizmodo in a phone interview. That single digit decline resulted in an estimated $617 million paper losses.

Consider also that Uber’s debut valuation of $76.5 billion was a considerable drop from the between $90 billion and $120 billion the company had been worth in some analysts estimation just a month earlier—one meant to stanch the forthcoming bleeding that had begun with competitor Lyft’s bellyflop IPO. This defensive position did little to keep Uber or its investors from taking on water within a single day of trading.

According to one analyst, the company may be profitable by 2024, though its only real plan so far is to continue to screw workers and eventually replace them with unproven technology. As former CEO Travis Kalanick said in 2014, “the reason that Uber could be expensive is you’re not just paying for the car, you’re paying for the other dude in the car who’s driving.”

Presently, investors are probably realizing that what they’re paying for is an unsustainable company so huge that its main justification for existing is sunk cost.

Ice-9!  Vonnegut was right!  :o

Well not quite, but entertaining anyhow.


Scientists Just Created a Bizarre Form of Ice That's Half as Hot as The Sun
9 MAY 2019

It has taken one of the most powerful lasers on the planet, but scientists have done it. They've confirmed the existence of 'superionic' hot ice - frozen water that can remain solid at thousands of degrees of heat.

This bizarre form of ice is possible because of tremendous pressure, and the findings of the experiment could shed light on the interior structure of giant ice planets such as Uranus and Neptune.

On Earth's surface, the boiling and freezing points of water vary only a little - generally boiling when it's very hot, and freezing when it's cold. But both these state changes are at the whim of pressure (that's why the boiling point of water is lower at higher altitudes).

In the vacuum of space, water can't exist in its liquid form. It immediately boils and vaporises even at -270 degrees Celsius - the average temperature of the Universe - before desublimating into ice crystals.

But it's been theorised that in extremely high-pressure environments, the opposite occurs: the water solidifies, even at extremely high temperatures. Scientists at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory directly observed this for the first time just recently, detailed in a paper last year.

They created Ice VII, which is the crystalline form of ice above 30,000 times Earth's atmospheric pressure, or 3 gigapascals, and blasted it with lasers. The resulting ice had a conductive flow of ions, rather than electrons, which is why it's called superionic ice.

Now they've confirmed it with follow-up experiments. They have proposed the new form be named Ice XVIII.

In the previous experiment, the team had only been able to observe general properties, such as energy and temperature; the finer details of the internal structure remained elusive. So they designed an experiment using laser pulses and X-ray diffraction to reveal the ice's crystalline structure.

"We wanted to determine the atomic structure of superionic water," said physicist Federica Coppari of the LLNL.

"But given the extreme conditions at which this elusive state of matter is predicted to be stable, compressing water to such pressures and temperatures and simultaneously taking snapshots of the atomic structure was an extremely difficult task, which required an innovative experimental design."

Here's that design. First, a thin layer of water is placed between two diamond anvils. Then six giant lasers are used to generate a series of shockwaves at progressively increasing intensity to compress the water at pressures up to 100-400 gigapascals, or 1 to 4 million times Earth's atmospheric pressure.

At the same time, they produce temperatures between 1,650 and 2,760 degrees Celsius (the surface of the Sun is 5,505 degrees Celsius).

This experiment was designed so that the water would freeze when compressed, but since the pressure and temperature conditions could only be maintained for a fraction of a second, the physicists were uncertain that the ice crystals would form and grow.

So they used lasers to blast a tiny piece of iron foil with 16 additional pulses, creating a wave of plasma that generated an X-ray flash at precisely the right time. These flashes diffracted off the crystals inside, showing the compressed water was indeed frozen and stable.

"The X-ray diffraction patterns we measured are an unambiguous signature for dense ice crystals forming during the ultrafast shockwave compression demonstrating that nucleation of solid ice from liquid water is fast enough to be observed in the nanosecond timescale of the experiment," Coppari said.

These X-rays showed a never-before-seen structure - cubic crystals with oxygen atoms at each corner, and an oxygen atom in the centre of each face.

"Finding direct evidence for the existence of crystalline lattice of oxygen brings the last missing piece to the puzzle regarding the existence of superionic water ice," said physicist Marius Millot of the LLNL.

"This gives additional strength to the evidence for the existence of superionic ice we collected last year."

The result reveals a clue to how ice giants such as Neptune and Uranus could have such strange magnetic fields, tilted at bizarre angles, and with equators that don't circle the planet.

Previously, it was thought that these planets had a fluid ocean of ionic water and ammonia in place of a mantle.

But the team's research shows that these planets could have a solid mantle, like Earth, but made of hot superionic ice instead of hot rock. Because superionic ice is highly conductive, this could be influencing the planets' magnetic fields.

"Because water ice at Uranus and Neptune's interior conditions has a crystalline lattice, we argue that superionic ice should not flow like a liquid such as the fluid iron outer core of the Earth. Rather, it's probably better to picture that superionic ice would flow similarly to the Earth's mantle, which is made of solid rock, yet flows and supports large-scale convective motions on the very long geological timescales," Millot said.

"This can dramatically affect our understanding of the internal structure and the evolution of the icy giant planets, as well as all their numerous extrasolar cousins."

The research has been published in Nature.

Energy / 🛢️ The Chess Game of Iranian Sanctions
« on: May 08, 2019, 05:48:38 AM »
It will be interesting to see how this one plays out.


Iran’s Master Plan To Beat U.S. Sanctions
By Simon Watkins - May 07, 2019, 6:00 PM CDT

One key foreign policy goal of the current U.S. government is to initiate regime change in Iran by crippling its economy to such a degree that popular unrest removes the current power structures in the country, particularly the near-omnipresent IRGC. To this end, the past few weeks have seen the U.S. end all waivers on importing oil from Iran, designate the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a foreign terrorist organisation, and sanction 14 individuals and 17 entities linked to Iran’s shadowy Organization of Defensive Innovation and Research. All of this followed the U.S.’s momentous withdrawal last May from the Iran nuclear deal.

The IRGC believes that its only chance of avoiding this fate is to widen the existing divisions between the U.S. and the European Union (EU) so that it can generate export revenues from Europe, in addition to those it can rely on from the historically sanctions-busting states of Asia. Consequently, the IRGC has come up with a last-ditch strategy to do achieve this, a senior source who works closely with Iran’s Petroleum Ministry exclusively told earlier this week.

The catalyst for IRGC’s plan will be a detailed announcement in the next few weeks that Iran has awarded production and exploration contracts on five as yet officially undisclosed sub-sections of major oil fields to five Iranian firms connected to the IRGC. One of these, though, the source told, will be a portion of the supergiant Yadavaran site. Only last week, the National Iranian Oil Company announced that its contract with China’s Sinopec to develop the second phase of Yadavaran has been halted. “This was due to China demanding that the Sinopec contract be changed to make Iran liable to pay for all fines up to half  a billion [US] dollars that might be levied on Iran by the US Treasury for any perceived breach of sanctions,” the Iran source told To the U.S., this would mean that funds would flow directly into IRGC coffers from Iranian oil still being sold to Asia and other destinations, either via Iranian tankers or via Iraqi export sources, as has been the arrangement since the last set of international sanctions was increased in 2012. These funds could then be used to fund the terrorist activities of Iran’s military proxies, Hezbollah and Hamas, among others, for which the IRGC has just been sanctioned by the US.
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The IRGC still has extensive links with all major sectors of Iran’s economy, including oil, gas, petrochemical, banking, automotive, telecommunications, construction, metals and mining. Just before sanctions were removed from Iran in 2016, testimony to a sub-committee of the U.S. House Committee on Foreign Affairs highlighted that the IRGC had significant ownership shares in 27 companies that were publicly traded on the TSE. In just the first year after the nuclear deal was agreed in principle in 2015, understands that nearly 110 agreements worth at least US$80 billion were made with companies owned or controlled by IRGC-related entities. As it stands, according to the Iran source, the IRGC has close connections with at least 200 Iranian businesses.

Despite this, the EU has always been of the opinion that Iran has never broken the terms of the nuclear deal – a view also taken by the CIA, incidentally. At the time of U.S. President Donald Trump’s initial criticism of the nuclear deal last January, the EU’s foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, stated: “This is not a bilateral agreement,... so it is clearly not in the hands of any president of any country in the world to terminate [it],...The president of the United States has many powers, but not this one.” After the U.S. withdrew from the deal last May, the EU invoked the ‘Blocking Statute’ that effectively bans European companies from following the U.S.’s sanctions on Iran. Concomitant with this, Mogherini said that Brussels would not let the nuclear deal with Tehran die, adding that: “We are encouraging small and medium enterprises in particular to increase business with and in Iran as part of something that for us is a security priority.”

Shortly afterwards, the EU – under the leadership of Germany – moved to solve the problem of how to deal with payments accruing from business between the EU and Iran, without incurring the wrath of the U.S. The upshot was the Instrument for Trade and Exchanges (INSTEX), in which three of the original signatories of the nuclear deal - the UK, Germany, and France - created a special purpose vehicle (SPV) along the lines of a clearing house that cut Iran out of the financial loop completely. It would use an accrued credit and debit system to avoid any currency issues. The major problem with this was that no single country wanted to be the home of the vehicle, given the chance of retribution by the U.S., irrespective of the illegality of the new sanctions.

The solution agreed between the originators of the idea was that Iran will be paid in euros deposited in a number of accounts in banks across EU countries for gas, derivatives and petchems that they import, and Iran can withdraw the money in euros, according to the Iran source. In order to keep the EU on the right side of the U.S., two conditions were added. The first was that money could not be withdrawn by any company or individual mentioned in the blacklists held either by the U.S. or the EU in connection with the nuclear deal. Second, there would be EU auditors who monitor the payments, placing an initial total cap of €50 million that Iran could withdraw.
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This could then be raised, depending on whether Iran was abiding by the conditions, to a second phase ceiling of €65 million, and then to the third and final phase of €100 million, but this could be withdrawn multiply up to the total amount in the Iranian accounts. In response, at the end of April, Iran announced the creation of the Special Trade and Finance Institute (STFI), which has been designed in tandem with technical and financial experts from the UK, France, and Germany to dovetail into Europe’s INSTEX system.

In the IRGC’s reckoning, then, the EU has the means and the motive to defy the U.S. and only needs the opportunity catalyst to do so. The IRGC believes that this opportunity catalyst for complete EU defiance lies in what will happen when the U.S. is told of which five firms are involved. The IRGC has been tipped off that it is certain that U.S. Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, will expand sanctions on Iran to include its gas and petrochemicals products exports as well, according to the Iran source. These, together with oil, account for around 88 percent of all Iran’s export revenues.

“The key point is that the US promised Germany – as the de facto leader of the EU – that in return for the EU going along with the US sanctions on importing Iranian oil, the US would never sanction Iranian gas, which the EU absolutely needs,” the source told “If the US breaks this promise then Germany will view the deal with the US on all Iran sanctions as finished, meaning that Greece and Italy in the first instance will be given the nod to resume oil imports, regardless of the end to their waivers by the US,” he added.
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In either case, he underlined, the IRGC believes it cannot lose. If the EU complies with extended US sanctions then it believes that it will be able to use the economic tumult to tighten its grip over Iran sufficient to take it back to the ‘ideal’ of the Islamic Republic in 1979. If the EU does not comply then Iran will see increased revenues from oil exports to Europe, in addition to those from gas and petchems. The IRGC does not believe that, at this time, the U.S. will launch military action against Iran, unless it closes off the strategically vital oil chokepoint, the Strait of Hormuz. This is despite the placement earlier this week of the U.S. aircraft carrier battle group in the Persian Gulf region.

It is no coincidence that the sowing of such discord between these two power blocs would be in the interests of Russia. “The essence of Russia’s foreign policy under [President Vladimir] Putin is to create chaos amongst vested interests in a country or region into which it can then project itself as an economic and political saviour,” said the Iran source. “The only thing holding Russia back from fully implementing the agreement last year that would turn Iran into a client state was fear of what the US might do to it but the prize of further destabilising the US-Europe relationship now means it is willing to risk it,” he added.

This deal involves Russia giving Iran US$50 billion every year for at least five years. In exchange for this, Iran would give Russia preference in the oil and gas sector and increase military co-operation. In addition, Iran would not be able to expel any Russian firm from any oil and gas field development, and Russia would also have complete say over exactly how much oil is produced from each field, when it is sold, to whom it is sold, and for how much it is sold.

By Simon Watkins for

This will not end well.


Georgia Just Criminalized Abortion. Women Who Terminate Their Pregnancies Would Receive Life in Prison.

By Mark Joseph Stern
May 07, 20192:03 PM

Anti-abortion activists participate in the March for Life, an annual event to mark the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, outside the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 18.
Anti-abortion activists participate in the March for Life, an annual event to mark the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, outside the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 18.
Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images
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On Tuesday, Georgia Republican Gov. Brian Kemp signed a “fetal heartbeat” bill that seeks to outlaw abortion after about six weeks. The measure, HB 481, is the most extreme abortion ban in the country—not just because it would impose severe limitations on women’s reproductive rights, but also because it would subject women who get illegal abortions to life imprisonment and the death penalty.

The primary purpose of HB 481 is to prohibit doctors from terminating any pregnancy after they can detect “embryonic or fetal cardiac activity,” which typically occurs at six weeks’ gestation. But the bill does far more than that. In one sweeping provision, it declares that “unborn children are a class of living, distinct person” that deserves “full legal recognition.” Thus, Georgia law must “recognize unborn children as natural persons”—not just for the purposes of abortion, but as a legal rule.

This radical revision of Georgia law is quite deliberate: The bill confirms that fetuses “shall be included in population based determinations” from now on, because they are legally humans, and residents of the state. But it is not clear whether the bill’s drafters contemplated the more dramatic consequences of granting legal personhood to fetuses. For instance, as Georgia appellate attorney Andrew Fleischman has pointed out, the moment this bill takes effect on Jan. 1, 2020, the state will be illegally holding thousands of citizens in jail without bond. That’s because, under HB 481, pregnant inmates’ fetuses have independent rights—including the right to due process. Can a juvenile attorney represent an inmate’s fetus and demand its release? If not, why? It is an egregious due process violation to punish one human for the crimes of another. If an inmate’s fetus is a human, how can Georgia lawfully detain it for a crime it did not commit?

But the most startling effect of HB 481 may be its criminalization of women who seek out unlawful abortions or terminate their own pregnancies. An earlier Georgia law imposing criminal penalties for illegal abortions does not apply to women who self-terminate; the new measure, by contrast, conspicuously lacks such a limitation. It can, and would, be used to prosecute women. Misoprostol, a drug that treats stomach ulcers but also induces abortions, is extremely easy to obtain on the internet, and American women routinely use it to self-terminate. It is highly effective in the first 10 weeks of pregnancy. Anti-abortion advocates generally insist that they do not want to punish women who undergo abortions. But HB 481 does exactly that. Once it takes effect, a woman who self-terminates will have, as a matter of law, killed a human—thereby committing murder. The penalty for that crime in Georgia is life imprisonment or capital punishment.
It is entirely possible that Georgia prosecutors armed with this new statute will bring charges against women.

HB 481 would also have consequences for women who get abortions from doctors or miscarry. A woman who seeks out an illegal abortion from a health care provider would be a party to murder, subject to life in prison. And a woman who miscarries because of her own conduct—say, using drugs while pregnant—would be liable for second-degree murder, punishable by 10 to 30 years’ imprisonment. Prosecutors may interrogate women who miscarry to determine whether they can be held responsible; if they find evidence of culpability, they may charge, detain, and try these women for the death of their fetuses.

Even women who seek lawful abortions out of state may not escape punishment. If a Georgia resident plans to travel elsewhere to obtain an abortion, she may be charged with conspiracy to commit murder, punishable by 10 years’ imprisonment. An individual who helps a woman plan her trip to get an out-of-state abortion, or transports her to the clinic, may also be charged with conspiracy. These individuals, after all, are “conspiring” to end of the life of a “person” with “full legal recognition” under Georgia law.

It is entirely possible that Georgia prosecutors armed with this new statute will bring charges against women who terminate their pregnancies illegally. In 2015, a Georgia prosecutor charged Kenlissia Jones with murder after she self-terminated; he only dropped the charges after concluding that “criminal prosecution of a pregnant woman for her own actions against her unborn child does not seem permitted.” Starting in 2020, however, Georgia law will permit precisely this kind of prosecution. There is no reason to doubt that history will repeat itself, and more prosecutors will charge women who undergo abortions with murder.

For now, Supreme Court precedent protecting women’s reproductive rights should bar such prosecutions—and indeed, require the invalidation of HB 481. But the court’s conservative majority may be on the verge of dismantling Roe v. Wade. If that happens, Georgia and other conservative states will be free to outlaw abortion, and to imprison women who self-terminate. HB 481 is further proof that once Roe is gone, it won’t just be abortion providers who risk legal jeopardy: Women will be punished, too.


Off the Coast of Portugal, the Earth's Crust Might Be Peeling in Two
By Yasemin Saplakoglu, Staff Writer | May 7, 2019 11:00am ET

Part of Earth's crust may be peeling into two layers, a never-seen-before phenomenon.
Credit: Shutterstock

In 1969, a giant earthquake off the coast of Portugal kicked up a tsunami that killed over a dozen people. Some 200 years prior, an even larger earthquake hit the same area, killing around 100,000 people and destroying the city of Lisbon.

Two earthquakes in the same spot over a couple hundred years is not cause for alarm. But what puzzled seismologists about these tremors was that they began in relatively flat beds of the ocean — away from any faults or cracks in the Earth's crust where tectonic plates slip past each other, releasing energy and causing earthquakes.

So what's causing the rumbles under a seemingly quiet area? [In Photos: Ocean Hidden Beneath Earth's Crust]

One idea is that a tectonic plate is peeling into two layers — the top peeling off the bottom layer — a phenomenon that has never been observed before, a group of scientists reported in April at the European Geosciences Union General Assembly held in Vienna. This peeling may be creating a new subduction zone, or an area in which one tectonic plate is rammed beneath another, according to their abstract.

The peeling is likely driven by a water-absorbing layer in the middle of the tectonic plate, according to National Geographic. This layer might have undergone a geological process called serpentinization, in which water that seeps in through cracks causes a layer to transform into soft green minerals. Now, this transformed layer might be causing enough weakness in the plate for the bottom layer to peel away from the top layer. That peeling could lead to deep fractures that trigger a tiny subduction zone, National Geographic reported.

This group isn't the first to propose this idea, but it's the first to provide some data on it. They tested their hypothesis with two-dimensional models, and their preliminary results showed that this type of activity is indeed possible — but is still yet to be proven.

This research has not yet been published in a peer-reviewed journal.

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Originally published on Live Science.

Medicine & Health / 🍄 Get your Magic Mushrooms in Denver!
« on: May 06, 2019, 03:32:11 PM »

Denver is set to vote on decriminalizing hallucinogenic psilocybin mushrooms
Initiative 301 — which is on Tuesday’s ballot — would not make psilocybin mushrooms fully legal in Denver

Alex Henderson
May 6, 2019 3:34PM (UTC)
This article originally appeared on AlterNet.

The movement to legalize or at least decriminalize marijuana has grown considerably in recent years in the United States. Denver has become one of the top cities for marijuana reform, and this week, voters in Colorado’s largest city will have a chance to vote on how another drug is regulated: hallucinogenic psilocybin mushrooms.

If approved, Initiative 301 — which is on Tuesday’s ballot in Denver — would not make psilocybin mushrooms fully legal in that city, but would decriminalize them. Initiative 301 is only on the ballot in Denver. It is not a statewide initiative, although it could possibly lead to a statewide initiative at some point if it passes.

One of the most ardent proponents of psilocybin decriminalization in Denver is Kevin Matthews, campaign manager for the Denver Psilocybin Initiative. According to the Washington Post, Matthews has used psilocybin to fight clinical depression—and the Denver Psilocybin Initiative has raised about $45,000 so far.

The movement to decriminalize psilocybin in Denver has both its supporters and its opponents. Supporters of Initiative 301 range from liberals and progressives to right-wing libertarians. The Libertarian Party has been staunchly opposed to the War on Drugs and pushed for legalization of all drugs, including hard drugs.

Beth McCann, Denver’s district attorney, and Denver Mayor Michael B. Hancock, both Democrats, are among the opponents of Initiative 301.

The Japs sure know how to find new White Elephants to spend debt money on!



The deepest hole we have ever dug

During the Cold War, the US and Soviets both created ambitious projects to drill deeper than ever before.

    By Mark Piesing

6 May 2019

The lakes, forests, mists and snow of the Kola Peninsula deep in the Arctic Circle can make this corner of Russia seem like a scene from a fairy tale. Yet amidst the natural beauty stand the ruins of an abandoned Soviet scientific research station. In the middle of the crumbling building is a heavy, rusty metal cap embedded in the concrete floor, secured by a ring of thick and equally rusty metal bolts.

According to some, this is the entrance to hell.

This is the Kola Superdeep Borehole, the deepest manmade hole on Earth and deepest artificial point on Earth. The 40,230ft-deep (12.2km) construction is so deep that locals swear you can hear the screams of souls tortured in hell. It took the Soviets almost 20 years to drill this far, but the drill bit was still only about one-third of the way through the crust to the Earth’s mantle when the project came grinding to a halt in the chaos of post-Soviet Russia.

The Soviets’ superdeep borehole isn’t alone. During the Cold War, there was a race by the superpowers to drill as deep as possible into the Earth’s crust – and even to reach the mantle of the planet itself. 

Now the Japanese want to have a go.

“It was in the time of the Iron Curtain when the drilling was started,” says Uli Harms of the International Continental Scientific Drilling Program, who as a young scientist worked on the German rival to the Kola borehole. “And there was certainly competition between us. One of the main motivations was that the Russians were simply not really open with their data.

“When the Russians started to drill they claimed they had found free water – and that was simply not believed by most scientists. There used to be common understanding among Western scientists that the crust was so dense 5km down that water could not permeate through it.”

“The ultimate goal of the [new] project is to get actual living samples of the mantle as it exists right now,” says Sean Toczko, programme manager for the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science. “In places like Oman you can find mantle close to the surface, but that’s mantle as it was millions of years ago.

Wilderness in Kola peninsula (Credit: Getty Images)

The borehole is located in the wilds of Russia's northern Kola Peninsula (Credit: Getty Images)

“It’s the difference between having a live dinosaur and a fossilised dinosaur bone.”

If the Earth is like an onion, then the crust is like the thin skin of the planet. It is only 25 (40km) miles thick. Beyond this, is the 1,800-mile deep mantle and beyond that, right at the center of the Earth, is the core.

Like the space race, the race to the explore this unknown “deep frontier” was a demonstration of engineering prowess, cutting-edge technology and the “right stuff”. The scientists were going where no man had gone before. The rock samples these super-deep boreholes could supply were potentially as important for science as anything Nasa brought back from the moon. The only difference was that this time the Americans didn’t win the race. In fact, no-one really did.

     The Soviets started to drill in the Arctic Circle in 1970

The US had fired up the first drill in the race to explore the deep frontier. In the late 1950s, the wonderfully named American Miscellaneous Society came up with the first serious plan to drill down to the mantle. The society-turned-drinking-club was an informal group made up of the leading lights of the US scientific community. Their crack at drilling through the Earth’s crust to the mantle was called Project Mohole, named after the Mohorovičić discontinuity, which separates the crust from the mantle.

Rather than drill a very, very deep hole, the US expedition – observed by novelist John Steinbeck – decided to take a short cut through the Pacific Ocean floor off Guadalupe, Mexico.

The advantage of drilling through the ocean floor is that the Earth’s crust is thinner there; the disadvantage is that the thinnest areas of crust is usually where the ocean is at its deepest.

The Kola Superdeep Borehole (Credit: Rakot13/CC BY-SA 3.0)

The borehole still exists - but the entrance has been welded shut (Credit: Rakot13/CC BY-SA 3.0)

The Soviets started to drill in the Arctic Circle in 1970. And finally, in 1990, the German Continental Deep Drilling Program (KTB) began in Bavaria – and eventually drilled down to 5.6 miles (9km).

As with the mission to the Moon, the problem was that the technologies needed for the success of these expeditions had to be invented from scratch.

When in 1961 Project Mohole began to drill into the seabed, deep-sea drilling for oil and gas was still far off. No one had yet invented now essential technologies such as dynamic positioning, which allows a drill ship to stay in its position over the well. Instead, the engineers had to improvise. They installed a system of propellers along the sides of their drill ship to keep it steady over the hole.

    Two years before Neil Armstrong walked on the moon, US Congress cancelled the funding for Project Mohole when costs began to spiral out of control

One of the biggest challenges the German engineers faced was the need to drill a hole that is as vertical as possible. The solution they came up with is now a standard technology in the oil and gas fields of the world.

“What was clear for the experience of the Russians was that you have to drill as vertical as possible because otherwise you increase torque on the drills and kinks in the hole,” says Uli Harms. “The solution was to develop vertical drilling systems. These are now an industry standard, but they were originally developed for KTB – and they worked until 7.5kms (4.7 miles). Then for the last 1.5–2km (.9 to 1.25 miles) the hole was off the vertical line for almost 200m.

German borehole project (Credit: Jochem Kueck)

The Germans began their own superdeep borehole project in 1990 (Credit: Jochem Kueck)

“We tried to utilise some of the Russian techniques in the early 90s or late 80s when Russia became more open and willing to cooperate with the West,” he adds. “Unfortunately, it was not possible to get the equipment in time.”

However, all of these expeditions ended in a degree of frustration. There were false start and blockages. Then there were the high temperatures their machinery encountered that deep underground, the cost and the politics – all of which put paid to the dreams of the scientists to drill deeper, and break the record for the deepest hole.

Two years before Neil Armstrong walked on the moon, US Congress cancelled the funding for Project Mohole when costs began to spiral out of control. The few metres of basalt that they were able to bring up worked out at a cost of roughly $40m (£31m) in today’s money.

    When Dutch artist Lotte Geevan lowered her microphone protected by a thermal shield down the German borehole it picked up a deep rumbling sound that scientists couldn’t explain

Then it was the turn of the Kola Superdeep Borehole. Drilling was stopped in 1992, when the temperature reached 180C (356F). This was twice what was expected at that depth and drilling deeper was no longer possible. Following the collapse of the Soviet Union there was no money to fund such projects – and three years later the whole facility was closed down. Now the desolate site is a destination for adventurous tourists.

The German borehole has been spared the fate of the others. The huge drill rig is still there – and a tourist attraction today – but today the crane just lowers instruments for measurement. The site has become in effect an observatory of the planet – or even an art gallery.

When Dutch artist Lotte Geevan lowered her microphone protected by a thermal shield down the German borehole, it picked up a deep rumbling sound that scientists couldn’t explain, a rumbling that made her “feel very small; it was the first time in my life this big ball we live on came to life, and it sounds haunting,” she says. “Some people thought it did sound like hell. Others thought they could hear the planet breathe.”

“The plan was there to drill deeper than the Soviets,” says Harms, “but we hadn’t even reached our allowed phase of 10km (6.25 miles) in the time we had. Then where we were drilling was just much hotter than where the Russians were. It was pretty clear that it was going to be much more difficult for us to go any deeper.

“By then it was also the early 90s in Germany and there was no good argument to raise additional funding to go any deeper because the German unification was costing such a lot of money.”

It is hard not to shake off the feeling that the race to the Earth’s mantle is an updated version of the famous novel Journey to the Centre of the Earth. While the scientists don’t expect to find a hidden cavern full of dinosaurs, they do describe their projects as “expeditions”.

“We thought of it as an expedition because it really took some time in terms of preparation and execution,” says Harms, “and because you’re really going into no-man’s land, where no-one has been before, and that is really unusual today.

    The thing about these missions is that they are like planetary exploration – Damon Teagle

“You always find down there something that really surprises you, and especially if you go down into an area that is very deep in the crust.

“And if we talk about KTB or the Kola Superdeep, then the theories that were behind the goals of the project were 30–40 years old by the time drilling started.”

“The thing about these missions is that they are like planetary exploration,” says Damon Teagle, professor of geochemistry in the School of Ocean and Earth Science, National Oceanography Centre Southampton at the University of Southampton, who has been heavily involved in the new Japanese-led project. “They are pure science undertakings and you never know quite know what you are going to find.

“At Hole 1256 [a hole drilled by the Deep Sea Drilling Project (DSDP) and Ocean Drilling Program (ODP)], we were the first get to see intact ocean crust. No one had got to it before. It was really exciting. There are always surprises.”

Derelict Kola Super Borehole (Credit: Rakot13/CC BY-SA 3.0)

The Kola Super Borehole site has been derelict since the early 1990s (Credit: Rakot13/CC BY-SA 3.0)

Today, “M2M-MoHole to Mantle” is one of the most important projects of the International Ocean Discovery Program (IODP). As with the original Project Mohole, the scientists are planning to drill through the seabed where the crust is only about 6km (3.75 miles) deep. The goal of the $1bn (£775m) ultradeep drilling project is to recover the in-situ mantle rocks for the first time in the human history.

“To do this would be an amazing undertaking and require a huge commitment from Japan,” says Teagle, who is involved in the project.

Despite the importance of the project, the huge drilling ship the Chikyū was built almost 20 years ago with this project in mind. The Chikyū uses a GPS system and six adjustable computer-controlled jets that can alter the position of the huge ship by as little as 50cm (20in).

“The idea is that this ship would pick up the touch and continue the work started by the original Mohole project 50 years ago,” says Sean Toczko, programme manager for the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science. “Superdeep boreholes have done a lot of progress in telling us about the thick continental crust. What we are trying to do find out more about the Crust-Mantle boundary.

    These expeditions are extremely expensive – and therefore they are difficult to repeat – Uli Harms

“The main sticking point is that there are three main candidate sites. One of those is off Costa Rica, one off Baha, and one off Hawaii.”

Each of the sites involves a compromise between the depth of the ocean, distance from the drilling site and the need for a base on the shore that can support a billion-dollar, 24-hours-a-day operation at sea. “The infrastructure can be built up, but that takes time and money,” adds Toczko.

“In the end, it really is a cost issue,” says Harms. “These expeditions are extremely expensive – and therefore they are difficult to repeat. They can cost hundreds of millions of euros – and only a small percentage will actually be for the earth sciences, the rest will be for technological development, and of course, operations.

 “We need inspiring politicians to talk up the value of these expeditions.”

A Ray of Sunshine on a Rainy Day in Collapse.  :icon_sunny:


The smartphone market is in decline, and nothing is coming to save it
Matt Weinberger

iPhone XR Apple's colorful iPhone Xr is supposed to be more affordable, but it still starts at a cool $749. Apple

Analysis banner

    The smartphone market is showing signs of stagnation, with Apple, Samsung, and Google all reporting this week that it's harder to sell a premium smartphone than it used to be.
    This is for several related reasons: higher costs for incremental improvements, people keeping their current phones or buying cheaper models.
    Apple is fighting this smartphone slowdown by focusing on services like Apple Pay or the Apple TV Plus streaming service, where it can make more money per users.
    Samsung is betting on new developments like 5G internet and foldable screens.
    Both bets are risky in their own ways, and neither seems likely to completely make up for the slow decline of the overall smartphone market.
    The next big gadget is coming: augmented reality goggles. But it's not ready for prime time, and may not be for some while.
    Visit for more stories.

Apple's latest quarter was sort of a bad news/good news situation.

The bad news is that sales of the iPhone were down some 17% from the same period of 2018. The good news is that Wall Street seems to believe that there's nowhere for the iPhone to go but up, sending Apple's stock soaring.

There is, however, worse news — not just for Apple, but for the entire smartphone industry.

Frostbite Falls Newz / 🏄‍♂️ Global Collapse Surfer
« on: April 28, 2019, 08:53:58 PM »
One of my many Collapse Newz Feeds.  I thought I would glom off Surly and add it to the Diner forum also.  :icon_sunny:

You can subscribe to the feed @ Global Collapse Surfer.


Economics / 💀 Seattle is Dying
« on: April 28, 2019, 01:06:06 AM »
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One positive attribute of Wally World.  :icon_sunny:

<a href="" target="_blank" class="new_win"></a>


Diner Newz & Multimedia / 📰 News Source Survey
« on: April 24, 2019, 03:59:11 PM »
I am developing a survey on News Sources.

A couple of restrictions:

1- News Aggregators like Google & Yahoo don't count.  The site has to produce it's own original material, news and/or editorial.

2- The site should have a fairly large circulation and be picked up periodically by the news aggregator sites

My current list of sites for the survey (in alphabetical order)is:

ABC American Broadcasting Company
AJ Al Jazeera
BBC British Broadcasting Corporation
CBS Columbia Broadcasting System
CNN Cable News Network
DB Daily Beast
FN Fox News
GP Greanville Post
GR Global Research
HP Huffington Post
MSNBC National Broadcasting Company
NPR National Public Radio
NW Newsweek
NYT New York Times
PCO Politico
R Reuters
RS Rolling Stone
RT Russia Today
SF Seeking Alpha
TD Truth Dig
TG The Guardian
TH The Hill
WaPo Washinton Post
WE Washington Examiner
WSJ Wall Street Journal

Use this thread to suggest other news sites to include in the survey.


Whaddya mean?  My fingers are VERY active!  They still (sorta) work too!


Americans getting more inactive, computers partly to blame
By The Associated Press April 23, 2019 11:28 am

FILE - In this Oct. 29, 2018 file photo, students work on computers at an elementary school in Beaver, Utah. According to a study published on Tuesday, April 23, 2019, Americans are becoming increasingly sedentary, spending almost a third of their waking...

Americans are becoming increasingly sedentary, spending almost a third of their waking hours sitting down, and computer use is partly to blame, a new study found.

Over almost a decade, average daily sitting time increased by roughly an hour, to about eight hours for U.S. teens and almost 6 1/2 hours for adults, according to the researchers. That includes school and work hours, but leisure-time computer use among all ages increased too.

By 2016, at least half of American kids and adults spent an hour or more of leisure time daily using computers. The biggest increase was among the oldest adults: 15% of retirement-aged adults reported using computers that often in 2003-04, soaring to more than half in 2015-16.

Most Americans of all ages watched TV or videos for at least two hours daily and that was mostly unchanged throughout the study, ranging from about 60% of kids aged 5 to 11, up to 84% of seniors.

“Everything we found is concerning,” said lead author Yin Cao, a researcher at Washington University’s medical school in St. Louis. “The overall message is prolonged sitting is highly prevalent,” despite prominent health warnings about the dangers of being too sedentary.

The researchers analyzed U.S. government health surveys from almost 52,000 Americans, starting at age 5, from 2001-2016. Total sitting time was assessed for teens and adults starting in 2007. The results were published Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Studies have shown that prolonged periods of sitting can increase risks for obesity, diabetes, heart disease and some cancers. U.S. activity guidelines released last fall say adults need at least 150 minutes to 300 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous activity each week, things like brisk walking, jogging, biking or tennis. Muscle strengthening two days weekly is also advised. Immediate benefits include reduced blood pressure and anxiety and better sleep. Long-term benefits include improved brain health and lower risks for falls.

Kids aged 6 through 17 need 60 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity daily. Regular activity is even recommended for kids as young as 3. But only about 1 in 4 U.S. adults and 1 in 5 teens get recommended amounts.

College student Daisy Lawing spends a lot of time sitting, but says she doesn’t have much choice. Classes and homework on the computer take up much of her day.

“I always feel bad” about being inactive, she said Tuesday at an Asheville, North Carolina, cafe, explaining that she did a school paper about the benefits of physical activity.

“I try to walk a lot, try to work out twice a week. But sometimes I can’t because I’m too busy with school,” Lawing, 21, a junior at Appalachian State University in Boone.

Peter T. Katzmarzyk of the Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, said people who sit all day need to do more than the minimum recommended amount of physical activity to counteract the harms of being sedentary.

“We’ve just got to really work on the population to get the message out there. Physical activity is good for everyone,” he said.

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