Earth is bracing for a cosmic tsunami Tuesday night as tons of plasma from a massive solar flare head directly toward the planet.
The Sun's surface erupted early Sunday morning, shooting a wall of ionized atoms directly at Earth, scientists say. It is expected to create a geomagnetic storm and a spectacular light show -- and it could pose a threat to satellites in orbit, as well.
"This eruption is directed right at us and is expected to get here early in the day on Aug. 4," said Leon Golub of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. "It's the first major Earth-directed eruption in quite some time."
The solar eruption, called a coronal mass ejection, was spotted by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory, which captures high-definition views of the sun at a variety of wavelengths. SDO was launched in February and peers deep into the layers of the sun, investigating the mysteries of its inner workings.
"We got a beautiful view of this eruption," Golub said. "And there might be more beautiful views to come if it triggers aurorae."
Tuesday, August 3, 2010
I think I just had a coronal mass ejection in my pants. From NY Post:
Finally - we have discovered a new way to enrage monkeys! Thanks, scientists! From Christian Science Monitor:
Japanese macaques will completely flip out when presented with flying squirrels, a new study in monkey-antagonism has found. The research could pave the way for advanced methods of enraging monkeys.
Researchers have observed small monkeys called Japanese macaques going bananas at the sight of a flying squirrel.
This riled-up response is probably just a false alarm, with the monkeys mistaking the squirrel for a predatory bird.
[...] When Japanese giant flying squirrels glided over to a tree in the monkeys' vicinity, adults and adolescent macaques started hollering at it threateningly, the researchers report. Young macaques screamed and mothers scooped up their infants, while adults and high-ranking males in particular went and physically harassed the offending squirrel.
From CBS News:
A former Los Angeles mortuary employee has been convicted of defrauding insurers by staging a fake funeral and attempting to cover it up by cremating a mannequin and cow parts she placed in the casket.
The U.S. attorney's office said Monday that 67-year-old Jean Crump was found guilty of two counts of wire fraud and one count of mail fraud.
Prosecutors say she and three accomplices took out bogus death certificates, purchased a burial plot, buried an empty casket and staged a funeral, then billed $1.2 million to insurance companies.
They say that when insurers investigated, Crump and her cohorts exhumed the coffin, filled it with a mannequin and cow parts and cremated it.
Her accomplices have pleaded guilty in the scam. Crump is to be sentenced Nov. 29.
From CBS News:
Peru's health minister says an outbreak of plague has killed a 14-year-old boy and infected at least 31 people in a northern coastal province.
Health Minister Oscar Ugarte says authorities are screening sugar and fish meal exports from Ascope province, located about 325 miles northwest of Lima. Popular Chicama beach isn't far away.
Ugarte says the boy, who had Down syndrome, died of bubonic plague July 26.
He said Monday that most of the infections are bubonic plague, with four cases of pneumonic plague. The former is transmitted by flea bites, the latter by airborne contagion. The disease is curable if treated early with antibiotics.
The first recorded plague outbreak in Peru was in 1903. The last, in 1994, killed 35 people.
From the NY Post:
Maybe she should have just called in sick.
An untenured Brooklyn high-school teacher catapulted herself down a school stairwell in a wacky attempt to avoid a classroom observation by her supervisor, a probe obtained by The Post shows.
Staffers at the HS for Innovation in Advertising and Media told investigators that first-year teacher Ilene Feldman was so petrified about a scheduled classroom observation -- coming in the wake of a poor performance review -- that she staged a clumsy pratfall in a stairwell rather than risk getting a second negative rating.
Untenured teachers can be canned out of hand if they are rated unsatisfactory after any of their first three years on the job.
Monday, August 2, 2010
Brit rocker Richard Ashcroft stormed off stage during his set at the Splendour in the Grass festival last night.
The former Verve frontman was reportedly unhappy with the small crowd that had come to watch him and lashed out at Splendour organisers for putting him on at the same time as two of the festival's major draws, Empire of the Sun and the Pixies.
He stopped mid-song and told startled fans he may as well go and watch the Pixies instead of continuing with his set.
He then reportedly threw down his tambourine and stormed off to a waiting car.
Festival-goers left the venue complaining about his unprofessionalism.
From ABC News:
A Wisconsin woman who thought she had landed a job shipping clothing to Russian orphans inadvertently found herself at the center of an international weapons smuggling ring, unwittingly sending stolen sniper scopes, night-vision goggles and military gear to Russia, according to police.
Police say the woman, who received the work-from-home job offer through a Website, was likely a patsy in a scheme to ship sensitive equipment purchased with stolen credit cards.
Police, now working with the FBI, would not identify the 44-year-old woman from Ripon, Wisc., and said they had not yet determined who was behind the smuggling ring or fraudulent job offer. A phone number associated with the woman's addressed listed in the search warrant was disconnected.
"If 'ABC Arms Dealer' in California sends a package with a rifle scope directly to Russia that is going to raise a red flag and likely get stopped and searched," Capt. Bill Wallner of the Ripon Police Department told ABC News.com. "But a package being sent from a private citizen in Wisconsin might not get searched. That's why they were using her. They were paying her to change the packaging and address labels."