Dragontrails ovar Florida 12/8/10
SpaceX's Dragon capsule succesfully launches, key to ISS viability - December 08, 2010
SpaceX's 'Draco the Dragon' rising to mate with it's heavenly nest
Commercial spaceflight achieved a major milestone with the launch of Space Exploration Technology Corp.'s (SpaceX) Falcon 9 rocket at 10:43 a.m. EST on 8 December. The rocket carries the company's Dragon capsule, a reusable spacecraft intended to ferry astronauts, supplies, and research materials to the International Space Station (ISS).
The capsule is the first private spacecraft to orbit Earth, a feat that required a special license from the Federation Aviation Administration (FAA). It is expected to complete two orbits before reentry and splashdown in the Pacific Ocean about 500 miles west of Mexico.
The launch is the first of three demonstration flights that will be conducted over the next year under the Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) agreement between SpaceX and NASA. By late 2011, the company hopes to achieve the first docking of a commercial spacecraft with the ISS. Eventually, the Dragon capsule may bring as many as seven astronauts or up to 6,000 kg. of payload to the station. The launch represents a crucial stepping stone for NASA at it pursues plans to service the station with private contractors once the space shuttles are retired next year.
Operation Golden Phoenix 'Dry Run' Urban Nuke Attack targets L.A.
This was no ordinary explosive. It was a 10-kiloton nuclear device packing roughly the destructive force of the Hiroshima bomb. A blast of that magnitude could engulf 50,000 to 150,000 people and reduce parts of L.A., Hollywood and Studio City — the historical heart of the movie industry — to radioactive rubble.
Al-Qaeda played no part in planning the July 28 attack. The conspirators were the leaders of a dozen state, local and federal agencies who were taking part in a simulated L.A. County security exercise code-named Operation Golden Phoenix. Their mission: to assure that if a terrorist does detonate a nuke in Los Angeles, first responders will be prepared to wade into the devastation and rescue survivors suffering from traumatic injuries, radiation sickness, shock and flash-blindness.
"This is a survivable event," says Brendan Applegate, of the Naval Postgraduate School Center for Asymmetric Warfare, who helped design and carry out the exercise. "L.A. isn't going to fall into the ocean and be gone forever. It will be a really bad day, but we need everyone to show up to work and save lives."
Operation Golden Phoenix offers a rare public glimpse of the government's behind-the-scenes effort to bolster national preparedness. Few places take the threat more seriously than Los Angeles and post-9/11 New York.
"We're working with surrounding states and counties on regional plans that address the threat of an IND (improvised nuclear device)," says Kelly McKinney, New York City's Deputy Commissioner for Planning and Preparedness from the Office of Emergency Management.
For many people, nuclear weapons conjure up Cold War bomb shelters, civil defense drills and mutually assured destruction. That threat faded in 1991 with the collapse of the Soviet Union, says Irwin Redlener, of Columbia University's National Center for Disaster Preparedness. The new nuclear threat, he says, is a terrorist blowing up an improvised bomb in a U.S. city.
National security adviser John Brennan said in April that nuclear weapons are the "ultimate and most prized goal of terrorist groups." Brennan issued his assessment at President Obama's Nuclear Summit, an effort to rally world leaders to lock down loose nukes and shrink the odds that terrorists can launch what Obama called the "single biggest threat to U.S. security."
In 2008, Congress asked the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to create accurate computer models of nuclear detonations in U.S. cities, to help the cities draw up response plans. DHS went further, creating block-by-block analyses of possible blast and fallout patterns in six "primary target" cities — L.A., New York, Washington, D.C., San Francisco, Houston and Chicago.
In November, McKinney says, DHS provided state and local emergency response agencies across the USA with another preparedness tool. The 40-page guide, Nuclear Detonation Preparedness: Communicating in the Immediate Aftermath, carries fill-in-the-blank messages authorities can use to guide a frightened populace if a blast should occur.
"Shelter in place. That's the single biggest message," says Jonathan Fielding, L.A. County health director. "That's the best way to save lives and prevent radiation-related illnesses. It runs counter to your basic instinct to get away and reunite with family members. If their kids are in school or in day care, that's where they should stay," he says.
Stay indoors. Wait for news.
The good news is that the greatest danger passes in six to 24 hours as fallout's radioactivity dwindles, says health physicist Brooke Buddemeier, of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.
Buddemeier led the study of nuclear blasts in the nation's six target cities for DHS. He drew on data from 1,000 Cold War nuclear tests and sketchy reconstructions of the impact of the A-bombs dropped Japan.
Buddemeier's mantra: Stay in, stay safe. Wait for instructions. "You can't outrun a fallout cloud," Buddemeier says, "and fatalities from fallout are 100% preventable."
Without any shelter for 24 hours, he says, 285,000 people caught in the L.A. blast would develop radiation sickness or die. Just getting into a wood-frame house could save 160,000 people. Adequate shelter in a shallow basement or a two- or three-story building could save 240,000 of the 285,000; the rest would get sick but survive. "If you can get into an underground parking garage or the core of an office building, you'd have no significant exposure at all," he says.
In the fictional Golden Phoenix scenario, intelligence agencies have reported that domestic extremists with ties to al-Qaeda have obtained weapons-grade uranium and are planning to set off a device. The possible targets include Seattle, San Francisco, L.A., Chicago, New York and Washington, D.C. In response to the threat, remote radiation sensors have been deployed throughout the USA. After the L.A. blast, detectors pick up a second nuke in Washington, D.C.; it is detonated but fails to explode.
It is hard to imagine a more potent symbol of terror than a nuclear detonation. Bystanders miles away would witness a 100-mph fireball shooting five miles into the sky. Sun-surface heat, hyperexplosive pressures and 900-mph winds would level buildings for half a mile. Between 50,000 and 100,000 people would vanish in smoke and flame. Flash-blind drivers 10 miles away would crash, blocking evacuation routes. Fallout would rain down for hundreds of miles, according to the White House's Planning Guidance for Response to a Nuclear Detonation,posted on the Internet in June.
'9/11 on steroids'
"A nuclear attack would be like 9/11 on steroids," says Anne Norwood of the University of Pittsburgh Center for Biosecurity, an expert on the mental health impact of disasters. "You're never prepared psychologically. ... It would be a challenging moment in world history."
"When we talk about resiliency, we're not talking about how to be resilient against a flood," he says. "It's a question of how do we, as a nation, preserve constitutional government if an event like this occurs."
The government would be preoccupied with so many tasks — identifying the culprit; tracking the effects of the blast; securing government buildings; ushering critical personnel to safe locations; amassing drugs and supplies — that federal help won't arrive for 24 to 72 hours, the White House guidance says.
"Don't bother to dial 911," says John Fernandes, director of L.A. County's division of emergency management. "Most likely you're not going to have 911. The cell towers are going down."
In all likelihood, with local fire departments and hospitals crippled, "the first response will be neighbors helping neighbors," FEMA's Fugate says.
In response to the L.A. blast, more than a dozen local, state and federal agencies activate emergency operations centers. An anchor for the fictional Exercise News Networkbreaks into the drive-time broadcast: "I'm Will Kohlschreiber... following up on our lead story. ... Just after 7:30 a.m. Pacific Time, a large explosion rocked the Los Angeles area. The effects of the blast (have) ... thrown Southern California into chaos."
Personal preparedness is critical, because most regions of the U.S. are unprepared for a terrorist nuclear attack, emergency response experts say. "The reality is that we're extremely vulnerable to the impact and consequences of nuclear terrorism in ways that shouldn't be the case nine years after 9/11, says Redlener, author of Americans at Risk: Why We're Not Prepared for Megadisasters and What We Can Do Now.
Redlener notes that an analysis of where New Yorkers would go in the wake of a nuclear detonation indicated that as many as 5 million or 6 million people would "scatter randomly through at least eight states, into relatively small communities that would be confronted with thousands of injured, sick, terrified people who had been evacuated in the face of great danger and anxiety."
Applegate, the Golden Phoenix planner, says the exercise confirmed what emergency response workers knew at the start: Southern California and its neighboring states need a regional plan for dealing with the emergency. Michael Cline, Virginia's emergency response coordinator, says the National Capital Region lacks a regional plan for dealing with a nuclear blast, though state and local agencies include nuclear readiness as part of an all-hazard preparedness program.
After the Golden Phoenix explosion, emergency managers in operations centers throughout Southern California track fallout billowing across video screens. In a command center called the "white cell," exercise manager Applegate and his team play overwhelmed authorities who are trying, and often failing, to help. Some callers get busy signals. Others are told that desperately needed supplies were destroyed in the blast — or that they're being held in reserve "in case another bomb goes off," Applegate says. Perhaps the most wrenching question of all: Should first responders risk excess radiation to save more lives? Or should they save themselves?
Nuclear proliferation experts are divided on terrorists' odds of success. Most classify a terrorist strike as a "low probability, high consequence" event.
"The probability in my view is so low that it's not worth spending a lot of money to deal with it," says John Mueller of Ohio State University, author of Atomic Obsession: Nuclear Alarmism from Hiroshima to Al-Qaeda. Mueller says it's highly unlikely that terrorists could get enough highly enriched uranium, build a bomb, sneak it into the USA and trigger it without getting caught.
Some evidence suggests otherwise. The 9/11 Commission reported in 2004 that al-Qaeda has been trying to "acquire or make" nuclear weapons for a decade. The International Atomic Energy Agency has logged 421 reports of lost or stolen nuclear materials from member states. The U.S. has lost at least 11 nuclear weapons, according to Harvard's Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs.
Given these reports, Rick Nelson, an intelligence expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, holds a different view. "I think in my lifetime I'll see the detonation of a nuclear device. I do," he says.
If the plotters succeed, FEMA's Fugate says, those caught in the aftermath can make a big difference. "Survivors aren't victims," he says. "They're rescuers."
Dec. 13, 2010: On August 1, 2010, an entire hemisphere of the sun erupted. Filaments of magnetism snapped and exploded, shock waves raced across the stellar surface, billion-ton clouds of hot gas billowed into space. Astronomers knew they had witnessed something big.
It was so big, it may have shattered old ideas about solar activity.
"The August 1st event really opened our eyes," says Karel Schrijver of Lockheed Martin's Solar and Astrophysics Lab in Palo Alto, CA. "We see that solar storms can be global events, playing out on scales we scarcely imagined before."
They're now claiming it's was just a Balloon.
The Israel Air Force intercepted a suspicious flying object hovering in a closed airspace above the southern Red Sea and endangering a Dimona plant. This is the IAF's second interception in the air
An Israel Air Force fighter jet shot down a suspicious object flying near the southern Red Sea on Thursday (Dec. 16), after it was determined that the object posed a threat to buildings in the area including the nearby Dimona (southern Israel) plant.
Army Radio stated in a later report that only after the IAF's southern air-control unit determined the flying object was in a closed airspace, was unmanned and had no reason to be hovering where it was the IAF shot it down.
At this time the object is being studied at the Air Force, the incident and possibility that intelligence was being gathered on the Dimona plant being investigated by the IDF. As a result of the incident, flight paths to Eilat have been restricted. It was reported that some commercial flights were held back and pilots already in the air were instructed to fly at lower altitudes than usual.
This is the first time since the Second Lebanon War in which the Air Force used air interception. In August of 2006, the Air Force intercepted a small, unmanned plane sent from Lebanon. The northern air-control unit of the Air Force identified the aircraft before it was able to cross the border and planes were sent to intercept it. The aircraft was intercepted at a low altitude above the water. Navy vessels collected its broken parts.
A year ago in another incident, a civilian Ultralight (made for one or two people) plane was blown in the direction of the Dimona plant as a result of strong wind. After the Air Force determined that the aircraft was getting closer to the restricted area, two fighter jets were sent to where it flew and made contact with the pilot. Ultimately, the plane landed in a landing strip in Arad (southern Israel).
If you listen to the Air Force tell it, there are simply no such things as UFOs. A two-decade investigation called Project Blue Book determined in 1969 that no extraterrestial life has made contact with Earth. And no unexplained aerial phenomena have exceeded humanity's scientific grasp, let alone threatened national security.
That has not been enough for dedicated UFOlogists. In September, a group of Air Force missile officers contended that aliens had temporarily taken control of their nukes.
The "do they or don't they exist" debate won't be settled until someone from far away asks to be taken to our leaders. And the controversy makes it easy to forget that a UFO isn't actually a ship full of little green men. It's a placeholder for a puzzle the mind can't solve. So, it's also easy to forget that, much like the Insane Clown Posse observed about miracles, UFOs are all around us.
From weird drones to cheeky satellites to things that manifest themselves to the naked eye as little more than plumes of smoke, the skies can be a mysterious, congested place. Here, we take a look at the most striking curiosities of aviation, both foreign and domestic, including actual flying saucers.
That's the trouble with aliens: the misdirection. You spend too much time tracking down intergalactic visitors and you'll miss the oddities that humans invented for getting around our home planet.
The real-life Da Vinci Code: Historians discover tiny numbers and letters in the eyes of the Mona Lisa
Intrigue is usually focused on her enigmatic smile.
But the Mona Lisa was at the centre of a new mystery yesterday after art detectives took a fresh look at the masterpiece -- and noticed something in her eyes.
Hidden in the dark paint of her pupils are tiny letters and numbers, placed there by the artist Leonardo da Vinci and revealed only now thanks to high-magnification techniques.
The revelation could have come straight from the pages of Dan Brown's best-seller The Da Vinci Code, in which the Mona Lisa is said to contain hidden clues about the Holy Grail.
Silvano Vinceti, president of Italy's National Committee for Cultural Heritage, which spotted the symbols, said: 'To the naked eye the symbols are not visible but with a magnifying glass they can clearly be seen.
New World Order Eco-city 2020 is a proposal just like from Pandora and the Tree People for the rehabilitation of the Mirniy industrial zone in Eastern Siberia, Russia designed by the innovative architectural studio AB Elis Ltd.
The project would be located inside a giant man-made crater of more than one kilometer in diameter and 550 meters deep that used to be one of the world's largest quarries. The idea is to create a new garden city that will be shielded from the harsh Siberian environmental conditions characterized by long and severe winters and short hot summers. The new city would attract tourists and residents to Eastern Siberia and would be able to accommodate more than 100,000 people. The new city is planned to be divided in 3 main levels with a vertical farm, forests, residences, and recreational areas. On of the most interesting aspects of the proposal is the glass dome that will protect the city and would be covered by photovoltaic cells that will harvest enough solar energy for the new development. A central core houses the majority of the vertical circulations and infrastructure along with a multi-level research center. The housing area is located in the first level with outdoor terraces overlooking a forest in the center of the city. The idea is to create a new type of highly dense urbanism in harmony with nature.
It’s one of those grandiose ideas that gets bandied about by Pentagon scientists and pops up in the press every few years. The “Face of Allah” weapon would beam a massive, lifelike hologram over a battlefield, projecting the image of some deity “to incite fear in soldiers on a battlefield,” according to one researcher.
We last checked in on holographic weapons research two years ago, when the University of New Hampshire was working on some Pentagon-funded projects. Since then, another university team has turned holograms into a reality — but not as tools of war. Not yet, at least.
Optical scientist Nasser Peyghambarian and his teammates at the University of Arizona have demonstrated what The New York Times calls “actual moving holograms that are filmed in one spot and then projected and viewed in another spot.” The Times likens the holograms to the tiny image of Princess Leia that R2D2 showed Luke Skywalker in the beginning of Star Wars, only “a lot more haltingly, as the display changes only every two seconds.”
Peyghambarian’s hologram is created by a suite of 16 cameras that use lasers to record data on “smart” plastic some distance away that, when hit by a special light, project the image in solid-looking 3D. A partner team at Columbia University is studying ways to beam the holo-data via the Internet, to allow 3D video chats or instantaneous transmission of holographic maps, blueprints or medical scans. Peyghambarian said it might take a decade for the technology to become affordable and widespread. Weaponization would be much further behind (though we wouldn’t bet on today’s cash-strapped military to invest in a Face-of-Allah gun). Cost aside, it’s just not very PC.
Early holograms are already a fixture in military headquarters, according to the Times article. A company called Zebra Imaging in Texas has been selling 2-by-3-foot plastic holographic maps to the Pentagon — its “main customer” — for $1,000 to $3,000 a pop. The military “sends data in computer files to the company. Zebra then renders holographic displays of, for example, battlefields in Iraq and Afghanistan.” No goofy 3D glasses required, just a custom-made LED flashlight that “activates” the image encoded in the plastic.
Zebra’s technology has other military applications, such as post-blast IED forensics, according to the company’s Website. “Analysts trying to understand the nature and construction of an explosive device … are able to understand the scene in 3D far better than the classic 2D ‘bird’s-eye view.’”