In the series: Strange Friendships

-Kotka, which took care of the little ducks-do not believe it yourself;-)

Nuclear-Sized Asteroid Blasts Hit the Earth a Lot More Than You Think

Nuclear-Sized Asteroid Blasts Hit the Earth a Lot More Than You Think

That an asteroid apocalypse could wreck the Earth certainly seems plausible, if inevitable. That it will happen, say, next month seems a bit crazy. It's probably due to our own ability to rationalize away the potential for doom—which is a good thing, sure, one that keeps us from cowering in fear constantly—but that doesn't meanasteroids don't fly by relatively often.
In fact, according to B612, those asteroids don't always miss. The group tallied up data on asteroid entries around the world, and found that from 2000 to 2013, a total of 26 asteroids made impacts equivalent to nuclear detonations between 1 and 600 kilotons in strength.
The comparison is apt, as the impacts were tracked by the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization's global network of infrasound monitors, which are designed to track nuclear tests, not asteroids. Most notably, we all remember theChelyabinsk meteor, which was estimated at being the equivalent to about 500 kilotons of TNT. Now, not all impacts are that big, but the frequency is a bit alarming, and B612's video isn't helping:

In a press conference today, the group, which was co-founded by a pair of former astronauts, didn't hold back.
"This shows that asteroid impacts are not rare, but actually 3-10 times more common than we previously thought," said co-founder Dr. Ed Lu, who's spent time on the Space Shuttle, ISS, and Soyuz. “The fact that none of these asteroid impacts shown in the video was detected in advance shows 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.”
Lest you think Lu is a bit too doom-and-gloom, let it also be known that his resume includes leading the advanced projects group at Google; in short, he's a smart guy. And when he starts talking about asteroid disasters being a function of luck, it's enough to make your ears perk up. He and B612 have put their money where their mouths are, too: the groups Sentinel asteroid-tracking mission is a rather impressive effort for a private firm.
Of course, the knowledge isn't new. As we noted last October, the UN is stepping up its efforts for asteroid monitoring, which is definitely a positive sign. There's also theJPL Sentry system, which NASA describes as a "a highly automated collision monitoring system that continually scans the most current asteroid catalog for possibilities of future impact with Earth over the next 100 years." For those who like suspense, Sentry posts info about potential collisions online.
But those programs are largely focused on, well, large objects. And as the last decade's worth of data show, some asteroids of significant size do slip through the cracks. Now, to be fair, those 26 impacts spread out over the whole globe also show how there's a rather tiny chance that, say, your house gets blown up by a space rock in the next 13 years.
Yet that's beside the point, as far as B612 is concerned. It's easy to worry about the Big One, just as it's easy to then rationalize that, hey, just because it happened to the dinosaurs doesn't mean it'll happen to us. But, as these data show, it's not just the Hollywood-worthy giant asteroids that we need to worry about. Asteroids big and small will keep raining down, and unless we get better and trying to stop them, one is eventually going to hit home.
TOPICS: doomAsteroidsEarththe endasteroid monitoringspaceB612real talk

Hiding Galaxies With the Most Perfect Black In the Universe

Hiding Galaxies With the Most Perfect Black In the Universe

Generally, what we understand as “black” is the experience of zero perceived light. No light reaches our eye and so we experience blackness. Something has the property of being black because it doesn’t reflect (visible) light. We may put it in a box of other crayons like black is just some other color — you know, sharing space with burnt umber and neon carrot — but black also makes up its own corner of materials science and, at the same time, astronomy Welcome to the quest for “perfect black,” one that researchers at the University of Michigan appear to be winning with a new “magic black cloth” capable of cloaking an object’s three-dimensional properties.
The material, detailed in a new paper in the Applied Physics Letters absorbs 99.9-percent of visible light. The stuff is actually a carpet of sorts, made up of carbon nanotubes: imagine kind of a fuzzy forest of carbon strands in super-miniature. A coating of this stuff is about half the thickness of a sheet of paper. It exactly matches the refractive index of air, meaning that light travels through the material at the same speed as it travels through air. So, no light is scattered when it hits the material or the object it’s coating. Of course, an object covered in the perfect black coating will still cast a shadow, but put up against a black background, it’s pretty much gone.
“It was inspired by the idea to ‘cloak’ an object,” Jay Guo, the paper’s principle investigator, tells Motherboard. “We want to produce a scheme to produce ‘invisibility’ that [would] apply to large area and over a wide range of electromagnetic waves.” The stuff has all sorts of possibilities, however, from uses in display screens to the inside of telescopes to solar heating. Since it absorbs all light, it stands to be extremely efficient in that last task: all of the energy it absorbs gets turned to heat.
The sort of carbon nanotubes used in Guo’s magic black cloth exist naturally as well. In fact, they’re the result of most any combustion process involving metal, and we’ve found them on Earth in oil wells, polar ice caps, and elsewhere (within soot). Which means it certainly exists in space, too. Imagine what it could be hiding there. Planets, galaxies, dark matter.
“Since deep space itself is a perfect dark background, if a planet or star were surrounded by a thick, sooty atmosphere of light-absorbing carbon nanomaterial gases, it would become invisible due to the same principle,” Guo says in a U of M press release. “It would become totally dark to our instruments that rely on the detection of electromagnetic waves. Could this explain some of the missing matter in the universe?”


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TOPICS: blackmaterials sciencespacein-the-lab

LEGO® Star Wars™ Times Square X-Wing Fighter™ Event


TOO FUNNY! I love horses, but this one is my FAVORITE!

This bird is incredible.

The Making of the One World Trade Center Panorama

Bruce Springsteen got it right when he called his magnificent album of post-9/11 songs The Rising. The title track acknowledges the heartbreaking strangeness of the empty sky above lower Manhattan after the Twin Towers fell. “Sky full of longing and emptiness,” he calls it. But then he sings about the new sky the rising will bring: “Sky of fullness, sky of blessed life.” With the near completion of 1 World Trade, the rising has happened and that sky is back.
With that prospect in mind, last year TIME entered into negotiations with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, the regional agency that built the original World Trade Center and likewise owns the new one, to gain exclusive access to the antenna-spire that tops the new tower. Our aim was to take an unprecedented 360-degree interactive image from the topmost point of what is now the tallest building in the western hemisphere.

After months of back and forth, we were granted access. Then TIME partnered with Gigapan, a tech startup based in Portland, Ore. Beginning with crude bar-napkin sketches and eventually moving to mechanical engineers working in AutoCAD and then to welders in Asheville, N.C., an eight-month process of design and construction resulted in a 13-ft.-long aluminum jib calibrated to adhere to the base of the beacon at the top of the tower’s 408-ft. spire. To that rotating arm was attached a Canon 5D Mark II with a 100-mm lens. Over a five-hour span of orbital shooting on Sept. 28, 2013, the camera produced 567 pictures that were then stitched together digitally into a single massive—and zoomable—image of everything the eye can see in all directions. This is how that amazing image came to be.

Time Magazine | Gigapan | 1 World Trade Center

A view from the top of the 1 World Trade Center tower

Take a 360-degree view from One World Trade Center

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Video: A special issue of Time magazine with panoramic images from the tallest building in the Western hemisphere hits stands today. It’s the culmination of a year-long project surrounding the new World Trade Center. TODAY’s Matt Lauer reports.

In a new website feature, TIME magazine provides a breathtaking, panoramic view of New York City.
The 360-degree moving image was taken atop of 1 World Trade Center, the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere and a steel-and-glass memorial to the Twin Towers that once stood nearby.
A view from the top of 1 World Trade Center in NYC.
Jonathan D. Woods and Michael Franz for TIME
A view from the top of 1 World Trade Center in NYC.
"When you step out onto that platform for the first time, it’s just like you can see the whole world up there," Jonathan Woods, TIME's senior photo and interactive editor, told TODAY.
Last May, TODAY’s Matt Lauer made his way up 104 floors inside the tower to witness construction crews place the last of a 408-foot tall spire on the tower. The building now stands at a symbolic 1,776 feet, a nod to the year America signed the Declaration of Independence. The new building is just north of the original towers, now the hallowed ground known as Ground Zero.

In early 2013, TIME set out to take an unprecedented image from the top of the tower. They created special equipment that would stabilize a camera that could clear photos despite 25 mph winds, the building's vibrations and numerous other challenges.
Woods called the process "insanely difficult."

"It's not like we can just climb up there and go take a look at it and try something on. This was a one-and-done deal," he said. 

On Sept. 28, 2013, the camera snapped more than 500 photos over a five-hour span. Photographers then spent weeks stitching together the photos into one massive — and zoomable — panoramic image.


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The Concert was Great, But You'll Like the Audience Even Better!

Tags: cute
These are good men Charlie Brown! Watch as the Piano Guys bring a surprise concert to an audience you will fall in love with.

Kittens On Decks

You spin me right ’round baby right ’round, like a record baby right, right, ’round, ’round!

These curious little kittens are scratching out some tunes and, by the look of things, having a pretty good time too! “Like” and Share if you’d go to a club where these little guys were DJing.


Putin & Sarah Palin Phone Call on "Tonight Show"

You There, Meowve Over!

How many Bengal cats can stay on an exercise wheel at the same time? Guess these guys don’t use Facebook..because they don’t know how to share. Share this video and show everyone that YOU know better than these kitties!

Cat & Dolphins Playing

Is this cat thinking food or friend? We think that this is really some-fin special! Pause at 1:04 and enjoy adorable squishy kisses. Share this with your friends and spread a message of love for all animals!

WATCH: Not Just “For The Birds!”

Как котенок смотрит мультик :)

EVERYONE likes the Pixar films and, apparently, that includes little ginger kittens! Watch as this little guy is completely captivated by Pixar’s short “For the Birds.” One word of advice though, scoot back, sitting that close is bad for your eyes! ;)

How the kitten watches a cartoon:) Wie das Kätzchen den Trickfilm sieht:) Ressemble à un chaton de bande dessinée:) Parece um desenho animado gatinho:) Como un gatito buscando película de dibujos animados:)

WATCH: Kitty And Hairdryer

Oskar the cat was born without eyeballs, quite a birth defect for a kitten. Luckily he was adopted by a very loving mama! Watch here as Oskar and the hairdryer go mano a manoerdryero a cato!

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