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Watching the world evolve and transform
Updated: 1 hour 7 min ago

High-tech materials purify water with sunlight

Mon, 03/17/2014 - 20:17
Sunlight plus a common titanium pigment might be the secret recipe for ridding pharmaceuticals, pesticides and other potentially harmful pollutants from drinking water. Scientists combined several high-tech components to make an easy-to-use water purifier that could work with the world's most basic form of energy, sunlight, in a boon for water purification in rural areas or developing countries. Anne Morrissey, Ph.D., explained that the new technology could someday be incorporated into an easy-to-use consumer product that would remove these stubborn pollutants from drinking water as a final step after it has already been treated with conventional methods. Her group at Dublin City University in Ireland started with a compound called titanium dioxide (TiO2), a powder used to... Read more »

Magma chamber under Hekla volcano almost full, could erupt with very short notice - Iceland

Mon, 03/17/2014 - 14:00
According to Páll Einarsson, professor in geophysics at University of Iceland, the magma chamber under Hekla volcano is now almost full. Professor Einarsson said the volcano could erupt with very short notice and warned people not to climb the mountain. "During the last eruption, in 2000, it took just 79 minutes from the first quake until eruption, and Páll says that is longer than in previous eruptions." (Source) On March 3, 2014 Jón Frímann Jónsson reported three earthquakes in Hekla volcano system. All three earthquakes where small with none having magnitude above 1.0. The last time this volcano appeared in GVP's weekly volcanic report was in March 2013: On March 29 the Icelandic Meteorological... Read more »

Wi-Fi-allergic Americans flock to West Virginia town where Wi-Fi is banned

Mon, 03/17/2014 - 09:54
Scores of people who believe that continual exposure to wireless signals have made them ill have begun streaming to a small town in West Virginia where Wi-Fi has been banned. According to Britain's Daily Mail, these "Wi-Fi refugees" are making the move to Green Bank, a tiny place located inside the U.S. National Radio Quiet Zone, established by the FCC in November 1958 to "minimize possible harmful interference to the National Radio Astronomy Observatory" located there, according to the observatory's website. Many of those trekking to Green Bank complain of painful symptoms when they are near cell phones or any device with Wi-Fi, two creations that define modern technology. Burning skin, chest pains and acute headaches are among the most... Read more »

Very strong earthquake M 6.7 struck off shore Tarapaca, Chile

Sun, 03/16/2014 - 21:56
A very strong earthquake with recorded magnitude of 7.0 (revised to M 6.7) struck off the coast of Tarapaca, Chile on March 16, 2014 at 21:16 UTC. USGS is reporting depth of 20 km (12.4 miles). EMSC is reporting Mw 7.0 at depth of only 10 km (still preliminary). Epicenter was located 61 km (38 miles) NW of Iquique and 153 km (95 miles) S of Arica, Chile. GDACS estimated there are 233 613 people living within 100 km radius. SHOA Chile reported there is no tsunami risk, but a small tsunami watch is in place. ONEMI Chile has ordered the preventive evacuation of the city of Tocopilla.  Landslides are reported in Tarapaca. In general people are afraid and are standing in the middle of the road. (ER) Overall,... Read more »

Close encounter with erupting Mount Yasur, Tanna Island, Vanuatu

Sun, 03/16/2014 - 13:56
GoPro extreme sports camera attached on the back of Phantom 2 quadcopter has been flown over the Yasur volcano, Tanna Island in Vanuatu. Both the camera and the quadcopter survived extreme conditions in close encounter with lava spewing volcano. The result is the following impressive video: Video courtesy of Shaun O'Callaghan "Yasur, the best-known and most frequently visited of the Vanuatu volcanoes, has been in more-or-less continuous strombolian and vulcanian activity since Captain Cook observed ash eruptions in 1774. This style of activity may have continued for the past 800 years. Yasur, located at the SE tip of Tanna Island, is a mostly unvegetated 361-m-high pyroclastic cone with a nearly circular, 400-m-wide summit crater. Yasur is largely contained... Read more »

The Edge of Reason: Beyond the limits of rationality

Sun, 03/16/2014 - 11:10
Can reason lead us to the truth? Spinoza, Hegel and Russell thought so. But might it be a fundamental mistake to imagine that reason is a neutral tool to arrive at incontrovertible conclusions? Should we be sceptical of the claims of logic, or would this allow blind prejudice to rule? IAI panel tries to explain:   The Panel Outspoken philosopher of science Steve Fuller and neurobiologist Steven Rose navigate the limits of rationality with Oxford philosopher Peter Hacker By "The Institute of Art and Ideas" - IAI.tv Featured image:... Read more »

Dangerous M 6.3 earthquake struck near the coast of northern Peru

Sun, 03/16/2014 - 08:02
After M 6.1 that struck near the coast of central Peru at 08:51 UTC on March 15, a second strong and shallow earthquake struck Peru at 23:51 UTC.  USGS measured it as magnitude 6.3 earthquake located near the coast of northern Peru at depth of 9.8 km (6.1 miles).  Epicenter was 6 km (4 miles) W of Sechura, 19 km (12 miles) SSW of Vice and 23 km (14 miles) SW of La Union, Peru. GDACS estimated there are 1 159 850 people living within 100 km radius. The government of Peru has declared an “orange” alert which means that they expect damage and injuries. Part of a tower in the church of San Martín de Tours in Piura collapsed. A local News Network reports a lot of damage in Piura and even more in Sechura.... Read more »

There may be a second massive ocean deep beneath the surface

Sat, 03/15/2014 - 19:53
Chemically bonded to minerals in the transition zone, Earth's mantle may be rather wet...  Deep within the Earth, staggering pressures mix with high temperatures to compact regular materials into exotic minerals. Under these extreme conditions, one familiar mineral—a blend of magnesium, iron and sand that geologists call olivine (and most people would know by its gemstone form, peridot)—is transformed into a material called ringwoodite. This material is produced in Earth's so-called “transition zone,” from around 255 to 416 miles depth, where the outer mantle turns to the inner mantle. While ringwoodite has been found before, in meteorites crashed to Earth, ringwoodite of terrestrial origin is a... Read more »

New swarm of earthquakes started at El Hierro, Canary Islands

Sat, 03/15/2014 - 16:16
A new swarm of earthquakes started yesterday at El Hierro, Canary Islands. So far, almost 200 tiny quakes (none above magnitude 3 so far) have occurred in a broad N-S oriented area beneath the NE part of the island at around 18 km depth.  A possible explanation includes a new magmatic intrusion at depth (magma accumulating at the lower crust-mantle boundary), Volcano Discovery reports. Earthquakes at El Hierro recorded in last 3 days. Image credit: IGN Shaking, cracks and dangerous rockfalls from strong M 5.4 quake near El Hierro, Canary Islands (December 28, 2013) "The triangular island of Hierro is the SW-most and least studied of the Canary Islands. The massive Hierro shield volcano is truncated by a large NW-facing escarpment formed as a... Read more »

Strong and shallow earthquake M 6.2 struck near the coast of central Peru

Sat, 03/15/2014 - 09:19
Strong and shallow earthquake measuring M 6.2 (USGS) struck near the coast of central Peru on March 15, 2014 at 08:59 UTC. USGS measured depth of 9.8 km (6.1 miles), EMSC is also reporting M 6.2 but at depth of 20 km. Epicenter was located 21 km (13 miles) SSE of Paracas and 39 km (24 miles) S of Pisco, Peru. GDACS estimated there are 646 269 living within 100 km radius. Overall, the population in this region resides in structures that are vulnerable to earthquake shaking, though some resistant structures exist. Recent earthquakes in this area have caused secondary hazards such as landslides that might have contributed to losses. At 06:05 UTC today, USGS recorded M 4.8 earthquake at depth 41.8 km in the same... Read more »

Duke engineers build world’s first 3D acoustic cloaking device

Fri, 03/14/2014 - 10:45
Using little more than a few perforated sheets of plastic and a staggering amount of number crunching, Duke engineers have demonstrated the world’s first three-dimensional acoustic cloak. The new device reroutes sound waves to create the impression that both the cloak and anything beneath it are not there. The acoustic cloaking device works in all three dimensions, no matter which direction the sound is coming from or where the observer is located, and holds potential for future applications such as sonar avoidance and architectural acoustics. “The particular trick we’re performing is hiding an object from sound waves,” said Steven Cummer, professor of electrical and computer engineering at Duke University. “By placing this cloak around an object,... Read more »

Newly detected ozone depleting substances in the atmosphere

Fri, 03/14/2014 - 08:52
Four gases contributing to the destruction of the ozone layer were identified in the atmosphere. All four of them have been released into the atmosphere recently. Scientists at the University of East Anglia made the discovery by comparing today's air samples with air trapped in polar firn snow in Greenland sampled in 2008, and also looking at air collected between 1978 and 2012 in unpolluted Tasmania. Research has shown four gases that were not around in the atmosphere at all until the 1960s which suggests they are man-made. So far, seven types of CFC and six types of HCFC have been shown to contribute to stratospheric ozone destruction. More than 74,000 tonnes of three new chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and one new... Read more »

Magnitude 6.1 earthquake struck Kyushu, Japan

Thu, 03/13/2014 - 17:28
Earthquake registered as M 6.1 (JMA) struck Kyushu, Japan on March 13, 2014 at 17:07 UTC (02:07 JST on March 14). JMA is reporting depth of 80 km. USGS is reporting M 6.3 at depth of 82.9 km (51.5 miles). Epicenter was located 13 km (8 miles) N of Kunisaki-shi and 30 km (19 miles) ENE of Bungo-Takada-shi, Japan. This earthquake poses no tsunami risk. GDACS estimated there are 5 813 056 people living within 100 km radius. Overall, the population in this region resides in structures that are resistant to earthquake shaking, though some vulnerable structures exist. Recent earthquakes in this area have caused secondary hazards such as landslides, fires, and liquefaction that might have contributed to losses. Population map close up.... Read more »

Attention coders: $35,000 contest to develop improved algorithms for detection of asteroids

Thu, 03/13/2014 - 13:09
NASA's Asteroid Data Hunter contest series will offer $35,000 in awards over the next six months to citizen scientists who develop improved algorithms that can be used to identify asteroids. The first contest in the series will kick off on March 17. Prior to the kick off, competitors can create an account on the contest series website and learn more about the rules and different phases of the contest series by going to: http://bit.ly/AsteroidHunters Managed by the NASA Tournament Lab, the entire contest series runs through August and is the first contest series contributing to the agency's Asteroid Grand Challenge. "For the past three years, NASA has been learning and advancing the ability to leverage distributed algorithm and coding skills... Read more »

2011 Oklahoma human induced earthquake may have triggered larger quake - study

Thu, 03/13/2014 - 10:16
In a new study involving researchers at the U.S. Geological Survey, scientists observed that a human-induced magnitude 5.0 earthquake near Prague, Oklahoma in November 2011 may have triggered the larger M 5.7 earthquake less than a day later.  This research suggests that the M 5.7 quake was the largest human-caused earthquake associated with wastewater injection. "The observation that a human-induced earthquake can trigger a cascade of earthquakes, including a larger one, has important implications for reducing the seismic risk from wastewater injection," said USGS seismologist and coauthor of the study Elizabeth Cochran. Historically, earthquakes in the central United States have been uncommon. Yet in the year 2011 alone, numerous moderate-size earthquakes... Read more »

Active volcanoes in the world: March 5 - March 11, 2014

Thu, 03/13/2014 - 07:13
In last 7 days new activity was observed at 4 volcanoes, ongoing activity was reported for 11 volcanoes. This report covers active volcanoes in the world from March 5 - March 11, 2014 based on Smithsonian/USGS criteria. New activity/unrest: | Pacaya, Guatemala | Popocatépetl, México | Slamet, Central Java (Indonesia) | Ubinas, Perú Ongoing activity: | Aira, Kyushu | Chirinkotan, Kuril Islands | Chirpoi, Kuril Islands (Russia) | Colima, México border | Dukono, Halmahera | Etna, Sicily (Italy) | Karymsky, Eastern Kamchatka (Russia) | Kilauea, Hawaii (USA) | Shiveluch, Central Kamchatka (Russia) | Sinabung, Sumatra (Indonesia) | Tungurahua, Ecuador The Weekly Volcanic Activity Report is a cooperative project between the... Read more »

Near X-class solar flare and geomagnetic storm - M9.2

Thu, 03/13/2014 - 01:50
Near X-class solar flare reaching M9.3 erupted from departing Sunspot 1996 on March 12, 2013 at 22:34 UTC. This decaying sunspot is located near eastern limb and generated CME was not geoeffective, however, it produced a R2 (Moderate) Solar Flare Radio Blackout which can cause limited blackout of HF radio communication on sunlit side, loss of radio contact for tens of minutes and degradation of low-frequency navigation signals for tens of minutes. SDO's AIA 194 and EVE captured powerful M9.3 solar flare at 22:43 UTC on March 12, 2014. (Courtesy of NASA/SDO and the AIA, EVE, and HMI science teams) The minor geomagnetic storm at high latitude was caused by a fluctuation in the interplanetary magnetic field when Bz component of the interplanetary... Read more »

Solar activity back to moderate levels, M2.5 from Region 1996

Wed, 03/12/2014 - 14:24
After major X4.9 solar flare that erupted on February 25 from Region 1990 [during its 3 rotation on the Earth side of the Sun] we almost had no day without a moderate eruption. Since then, solar observatories recorded 16 M-class solar flares ranging from M1.0 to M3.5.  Since the beginning of the year we had 2 X-class solar flares (aforementioned X4.9 on February 25, and X1.2 on January 7) and 70 M-class solar flares. And though most of those flares are considered moderate, the situation is becoming increasingly interesting because solar activity should already be decreasing and making its way toward solar minimum, a period with very few solar flares and low numberof sunspots. The solar cycle takes an average of about 11 years to go from one... Read more »

Volcanoes helped species survive ice ages

Tue, 03/11/2014 - 09:53
An international team of researchers has found evidence that the steam and heat from volcanoes and heated rocks allowed many species of plants and animals to survive past ice ages, helping scientists understand how species respond to climate change. The research could solve a long-running mystery about how some species survived and continued to evolve through past ice ages in parts of the planet covered by glaciers. The team, led by Dr Ceridwen Fraser from the Australian National University and Dr Aleks Terauds from the Australian Antarctic Division, studied tens of thousands of records of Antarctic species, collected over decades by hundreds of researchers, and found there are more species close to volcanoes, and fewer further away. "Volcanic steam can melt large ice caves... Read more »

Sunspot 1996 produced M3.5 solar flare

Tue, 03/11/2014 - 06:18
Active Region 1996, located in the northern hemisphere, produced moderate  M3.5 solar flare at 03:50 UTC on March 11, 2014. This active region continues to rotate closer towards the northwestwern limb.   SDO's AIA 304 and EVE with GOES X-ray flux plot (Credit: SDO/NOAA/SWPC) There are currently 6 visible sunspots facing Earth. Active Region 2002 located in the southeast quadrant produced three M1 flares and few C-Class solar flares. Growing Sunspot 2002 has developed a 'beta-gamma-delta' magnetic field that harbors energy for X-class solar flares. New sunspots 2003 and 2004 were numbered overnight. All other visible regions remain stable or in a state of decay.   No Earth-directed coronal... Read more »

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