Using Aliens to Titillate the Public

first_imgGeologists cannot even figure out our own planet (next headline), but some of them claim to know a lot about other planets – their geological history, and even their prospects for life.  Is it fair to tease the public with the L-word life when so much remains to be understood on the ground under our feet?Mars life:  A new study reported by PhysOrg from a JPL press release claims that Mars had a nearly global wet era 4 billion years ago.  Talk about water on Mars has gone back and forth for decades; was it really necessary to evolve life there by just adding water?  “The new findings suggest that the formation of water-related minerals, and thus at least part of the wet period that may have been most favorable to life, occurred between that early giant impact and the later time when younger sediments formed an overlying mantle.”  (Nobody saw that impact, by the way.)Mars hands:  “If there’s life on Mars, it could be right-handed,” teased a headline on New Scientist.  The article was about chiral molecules, but it made Mars a lively place.  Some astrobiologists have never been able to forgive the 1976 Viking landers for not finding life.  One experiment gave ambiguous results that are the basis for ongoing hopes.  They keep trying to find other explanations for the gas that Viking measured coming out of a prepared broth when Martian soil was added.  Jeffrey Bada, astrobiologist at Scripps, still thinks non-biological explanations can explain this.  “No matter how you construct an experiment, Mars is likely to throw you a curve ball,” he said.Europa bones:  An Arizona planetologist has an easier way to look for life on Europa.  PhysOrg reported how he feels one could find evidence of it on the surface without having to drill through the ice.  It might not even be microbes, Richard Greenberg (U of Arizona) said: “there’s always the possibility that we could find structures – something analogous to skeletal remains.”Starry avatars:  A JPL press release seemed to play on the public’s fascination with the recent 3-D alien movie by starting, “Many scientists speculate that our galaxy could be full of places like Pandora from the movie ‘Avatar’ — Earth-like worlds in solar systems besides our own.”  So have they found any?  Nope; just looking.  “Once considered the stuff of science fiction, it may not be long before Earth-like planets, or, in the case of Pandora, Earth-like moons of giant planets, are found to exist other places besides the silver screen.”  That was in a paragraph captioned, “Pandora, up close and personal.”  Incidentally, the real Pandora is a small moon of Saturn.  Here it is, up close and personal from Cassini.  Not quite like the movies.For SETI fans, Space.com announced that Frank Drake is retiring as director of the SETI Institute, and is turning the job of “Chief Alien Life Hunter” to long-time astrobiologist David Morrison.  Even though NASA doesn’t do SETI work, Morrison revealed an inside secret: “The SETI Institute has partnered with scientists at NASA Ames in a teaming arrangement that has greatly benefited both organizations.  The Institute played an especially important role in the development of the new multidisciplinary field of astrobiology.”  The two fields are closely allied, if for no other reason than the fact that neither has any evidence to support its reason for being.This has all the appearance of a cult (see CMI essay).  Only in this case, we have a cult funded by taxpayer dollars and preached by the mainstream media.  It’s not science if you have no evidence.  Whatever happened to separation of search and state?(Visited 36 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

SA gets access to UN climate fund

first_imgLocated at Durban’s Botanic Gardens, it represents the type of innovative, out-of-the-box thinking that is needed to address the impacts of climate change and the need to find solutions to a low-carbon economy that can also create sustainable jobs. Also launched on Wednesday was the Living Beehive, which contains architectural techniques of the original Zulu beehive hut construction, but combines modern materials such as steel frames with natural building materials, such as indigenous plants typical of the rolling hills of the grasslands in KwaZulu-Natal. National Planning Minister Trevor Manual made the announcement in Durban on Tuesday on the sidelines of the launch of Living Beehive, a legacy project of the UN Climate Change Conference (COP 17). 2 December 2011 Manuel said the fund would finance projects that aim to improve society’s ability to cope with the risks posed by climate change. “By recognising the importance of built and ecological infrastructure, and by bringing together natural and man-made design, the Living Beehive shows us the possibilities for job creation, service delivery and economic growth in a truly green economy,” Mabudafhasi said. The project was funded by the Department of Environmental Affairs and the UN’s Industrial Development Organisation. South Africa is now the fourth country that has an accredited national implementing entity, which translates into direct access to the UNFCCC adaptation fund. “As a country that is particularly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, this appointment is significant for South Africa for securing the funds needed to plan our development trajectory in a way that is responsive to climate change.” Seventeen metres in diameter and nine metres high, the art installation has been designed to showcase South Africa’s rich blend of natural, cultural and mineral wealth at COP 17. The Beehive’s living walls represent the importance of healthy ecosystems and are populated with indigenous grasses, forbs and bulbs. The South African National Biodiversity Institute has been accredited as a national implementing entity for the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Adaptation Fund. Deputy Water and Environmental Affairs Minister Rejoice Mabudafhasi said the Living Beehive was an example of nature and people working together. Source: BuaNews Zulu beehive hut construction The fund, which became fully operational in January, has conferred US$50-million worth of grants this year alone. The South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI) works closely with national climate change policymakers, and it has led the development of South Africa’s second national communication on climate change for COP 17. “This access, combined with our rich biodiversity and extensive mineral wealth, will allow South Africa to balance investment in optimal development futures with the appropriate allocation of resources to environmental programmes,” Manuel said.last_img read more

Cape Town’s Open Streets bring the people out to play

first_imgCapetonians make the streets of Observatory their own for a day. (Image: Rory Williams) 20 February 2014Get out your car and on your bike, skateboard or feet. Cape Town’s new Open Streets movement takes an old idea from Bogotá, Colombia, and turns city thoroughfares over to residents, who use the space for breaking down social barriers – and having a lot of fun.Read more on Media Club South Africa: Cape Town’s Open Streets bring the people out to playlast_img

TSR commandant held in Tripura scribe’s murder case

first_imgPolice on Wednesday arrested commandant of the Tripura State Rifles (TSR) Tapan Debbarma, in connection with the killing of senior journalist Sudip Datta Bhowmik at the 2nd battalion headquarters near here on Tuesday. His personal bodyguard Nandalal was earlier arrested for shooting down the journalist allegedly on the instructions of the commandant.Both the accused booked under IPC Sections 302, 109 and 27 of the Arms Act were sent to police remand for a period of 10 days when they were produced before the west Tripura Chief Judicial Magistrate. They have been kept at a city police station for interrogation by the CID, which has been entrusted with the investigation.Initial interrogation of accused rifleman Nandalal revealed that the killing of Mr. Bhowmik occurred inside the office chamber of Mr. Tapan. “He told us that despite his reluctance the commandant forced him to open fire,” a police officer told The Hindu on condition of anonymity.“After firing a single shot from his AK 47 automatic weapon, Nandalal became nervous and hurriedly left the room leaving the journalist in a pool of blood. The commandant let the critically wounded journalist die without medical attention.”The senior crime reporter had written 11 articles in daily Syandan Patrika against massive financial irregularities in the 2nd battalion of TSR.last_img read more

WORLD CUP: SEHWAG RULED OUT OF INDIA-AUSTRALIA QF

first_imgOpener Virender Sehwag has been ruled out of the crucial India-Australia quarterfinal due to his injury.He was dropped in the last match against West Indies.last_img