Posts Tagged ‘Astronomy

06
Jul
10

Europe’s ‘Big Bang’ probe sends back first image of cosmos

NEWS
Europe’s ‘Big Bang’ probe sends back first image of cosmos

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Science

••• A space telescope designed to peer into the enigma of the ‘Big Bang’ has served up its first overall image of the cosmos, the European Space Agency says.

The picture ‘is an extraordinary treasure chest of new data for astronomers,’ ESA declared on Monday.

The image was painstakingly built up, slice by slice, by a $875 million (700 million euros) telescope, Planck, which ESA put in orbit in May last year.

Planck is designed to look at radiation in the microwave part of the energy spectrum.

Microwave signatures point to the birth and death of stars and galaxies, as well as the embers of the ‘Big Bang’ which, according to theory, brought the Universe into existence 13.7 billion years ago.

This primeval energy, known as cosmic microwave background radiation (CMBR), washes across the sky.

But in order to spot it in Planck’s first ‘all-sky’ image, scientists will have to filter out background noise from our own galaxy, the Milky Way, ESA said.
‘We are opening the door to an Eldorado where scientists can seek the nuggets that will lead to deeper understanding of how our Universe came to be and how it works now,’ said David Southwood, ESA’s director of science and robotic exploration.

‘The image itself and its remarkable quality is a tribute to the engineers who built and have operated Planck. Now the scientific harvest must begin.’

Named after the 20th century German physicist Max Planck who founded quantum theory, the mission is equipped with a 4.8 feet telescope that focuses radiation onto two arrays of microwave detectors, each cooled to almost absolute zero.

By the end of its mission in 2012, Planck should have completed four all-sky scans, ESA said. The data release of the CMBR – in essence a map of the Big Bang – is also scheduled for 2012.
• Latest News & Headlines » Home «
• Source(s): European Space Agency (ESA)
Share

18
Jun
10

Tornadoes Rip Through Minnesota, Killing 3

NEWS
Tornadoes Rip Through Minnesota, Killing 3

Friday, June 18, 2010

Earth

••• An emergency official says a third death has been confirmed in a series of tornadoes that tore through Minnesota.

Freeborn County’s Emergency Management Director Mark Roche says one person was killed at a farm in southern Minnesota when the tornadoes struck Thursday night.

Roche estimates that up to nine tornadoes churned along a 18- to 20-miles path in rural parts of the county.

He says the tornadoes damaged 40 to 60 farms, but spared communities.

An elderly woman was killed when a twister wiped out her home near Almora in Otter Tail County, in northwestern Minnesota.

Farther north, officials say a man was killed when a tornado destroyed a gas station.
• Latest News & Headlines » Home «
• Source(s): National Weather Service
Share

07
Jun
10

Seven dead as tornadoes rip through Midwest

NEWS
Seven dead as tornadoes rip through Midwest

Monday, June 7, 2010

Earth

••• Tornados and thunderstorms swept through Ohio, Illinois and Michigan.

Dozens of homes were destroyed and a nuclear power plant had to be shut down.

The deaths happened in Ohio, where as many as seven tornadoes struck.

A five-year-old child was among those killed in the small town of Millbury, Ohio, local media reported.

Some 50 homes were also destroyed in a weekend of devastation.

The tornados and storms were not confined to Ohio, with 11 people injured in storms in Michigan and 17 hospitalised in Illinois.

Damage to a wall of a Michigan nuclear power plant prompted an automatic shutdown and the facility will remain closed until response crews assess the impact.

The high school in Lake Township was among the hardest-hit buildings.

Some buses were thrown across the school car park, Superintendent Jim Witt said.

Lake Township Police Chief Mark Hummer described the affected area as “like a war zone”.

He said a child was among the victims.

Mr. Hummer said later that the authorities had finished searching damaged buildings and he was not aware of anyone being reported missing, but fields and woods were still being searched.

In Michigan, the Fermi nuclear power plant on the shore of Lake Erie was shut down after high winds tore a side from one of the buildings.

Dan Smith, public information officer for Monroe County, said investigators were inspecting the plant and it was expected to go back into operation soon.

An eyewitness in Illinois said the city of Streator had been badly damaged.

“I saw people coming out of their homes right after the tornado hit; a second story of a house was taken off,” Eddie Lavallie told the Chicago Tribune.

Streator Mayor Jimmie Lansford told a news conference that 17 people had been taken to a local hospital for treatment – and 30 buildings had “major structural damage”.
• Latest News & Headlines » Home «
• Source(s): News Corporation
Share

05
Jun
10

British Airways cabin crew begin third walkout

NEWS
British Airways cabin crew begin third walkout

Saturday, June 5, 2010

NEWS

••• Strike pay has been increased for British Airways cabin crew as they launch their latest wave of five-day walkouts in their bitter row with the airline.

Unite said on Saturday it will pay its members $65 a day, up from $43.36 in previous strikes, and is considering offering interest-free loans of $1.445 for hardship cases.

BA said more crew than expected turned up for work on Saturday at Heathrow airport, meaning it could operate additional flights.

The cabin crew on Saturday staged their 18th day of action since March and will stay out until next Wednesday, raising the cost of the industrial action to BA to well over $216.77 million.

The union is threatening to ballot its members again if the deadlocked row is not resolved, which could disrupt flights throughout the busy summer months.

The impact of the dispute was revealed this week when the airline announced a 14.2 percent dip in passenger numbers last month.

A BA spokesman said on Saturday: ‘Our global operations went very well last week and we have got off to another good start today at the beginning of this strike period.

‘The numbers of crew reporting for work at Heathrow on Saturday has been higher than we expected and as a result we have been able to operate additional flights to Los Angeles, Washington, Mexico City and Phoenix.

‘These flights are in addition to the larger schedule previously announced at Heathrow for this period of strike action.
‘We will continue to operate 100 percent of our schedule at Gatwick and London City airports and our cabin crew at Gatwick continue to ignore Unite’s strike calls and work as normal.’

BA is aiming to operate around 80 percent of long-haul flights from Heathrow over the next five days, up from 70 percent and 60 percent in the past two strike periods, and 60 percent of short-haul flights, up from 55 percent and 50 percent.

Talks between Unite’s joint leader Tony Woodley and BA’s chief executive Willie Walsh under the auspices of the conciliation service Acas ended without agreement last week, with little sign of any progress.

An agreement in principle has been struck over cost-cutting, the original cause of the dispute, but the removal of travel concessions from strikers is now blocking a deal.

Unite has urged BA to fully restore the travel concessions, arguing it would not cost the airline any money.

The union said it believes the next series of strikes will be strongly supported by cabin crew and will have a ‘huge impact’ on flights.

Singer Billy Bragg performed an impromptu gig for the strikers at a football ground near Heathrow on Saturday.

An Acas spokesman said: ‘Acas and the TUC have continued to maintain contact with both BA and Unite since talks were adjourned.

‘It is expected that a date will be agreed shortly for talks to resume.’
» Check your flight information here: British Airways
• Latest News & Headlines » Home «
• Source(s): British Airways PLC
Share

01
Jun
10

Tornadoes hit SE Colorado; no injuries reported

NEWS
Tornadoes hit SE Colorado; no injuries reported

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Earth

••• Another round of severe thunderstorms in Southeastern Colorado spawned at least four tornadoes Monday in Baca County.

There were no reported injuries.

Emergency officials reported the tornadoes knocked down telephone poles in open country and that hail with the storms broke out windows in homes and cars.

Emergency sirens sounded in several of the county’s small communities.

The National Weather Service reported the first tornado touched down at about 01:57 p.m. near Pritchett.

At 06:32 p.m. Doppler radar was tracking another tornado about nine miles southeast of Campo.

Stan Rose, a meteorologist with the weather service, said the second storm crossed into the Oklahoma Panhandle close to 07:000 p.m.

Rose said there were reports of tennis ball-sized hail in these storms.

“The tornadoes were over fairly rural areas,” Rose said.

Baca County officials reported two other tornadoes but they were not confirmed by the weather service.

The sheriff’s office reported telephone poles being knocked down along county roads C and 33. There also were reports of power lines and antennas down in Campo.
Riley Frazee, emergency management director for Baca County, said Campo residents were lucky the tornado did not touch down there.

“The rotation (of the storm) went directly over Campo. They got a lot of hail,” Frazee said.

Frazee said an old wooden shed attached to a cement foundation was lifted, moved about 30 feet and set on its top on County Road C about 3 miles east of U.S. 287.

“Campo cut it real close. We were there watching the clouds and right above the town there was huge rotation. The funnel cloud started to come down, but moved east,” Frazee said.

“The tornadoes that we usually see are kind of the thinner rope tornadoes, but these were the big ones,” he said.

Frazee said the tornado near Pritchett was about two miles wide as it swirled on its base.

“They were huge today. It was a good day for weather spotting,” Frazee said.

The latest round of storms came less than one week since Southeastern Colorado was hit with several other severe storms.

On May 25, the weather service reported a tornado touched down in Baca County causing minor damage.

On the same day, the weather service reported 11 small tornadoes touched down over open country between Sheridan Lake and Towner in Kiowa County.

There were no injuries or major damages reported in any of those storms.

Share

28
May
10

Guatemala volcano forces airport closure, kills one

NEWS
Guatemala volcano forces airport closure, kills one

Friday, May 28, 2010

Earth••• Guatemalan President Alvaro Colom has declared a state of emergency after a powerful eruption at the southern Pacaya volcano killed one person and forced the international airport to close.

Ash blanketed the region as rocks and lava spewed from the volcano 31 miles south of the capital, as Colom late on Thursday issued the emergency decree lasting at least 15 days for the three departments nearest the eruption, which began on Wednesday night and has since built in intensity.
The La Aurora International Airport was closed to ensure planes were not flying through the volcano’s hazardous ash cloud or landing on the ash-strewn runway, said spokeswoman Monica Monge.

Incoming flights were being diverted to airports in other parts of the country, she told reporters.

About 1600 people were evacuated from the slopes of the volcano, which rises 1.59 miles above sea level in the tropical Central American nation.

The burnt body of Guatelamalan television journalist Anibal Archila was found near the volcano by a colleague, who said the reporter had been unable to escape the raining rocks and other projectiles thrown out in the eruption.

Three children aged seven, nine and 10 are also missing in the area, officials said.

There are 288 volcanoes in Guatemala, eight of which are active.
Share

27
May
10

Second Iceland volcano could erupt in near future

NEWS
Second Iceland volcano could erupt in near future
Thursday, May 27, 2010

Earth••• An Icelandic volcano neighbouring Eyjafjoell, whose eruptions paralysed Europe’s skies last month, could come to life in the near future, experts have warned.

‘An eruption in the short term is a strong possibility,’ experts said, referring to Katla, which is larger and fiercer than Eyjafjoell, in a report from the University College London (UCL) institute for risk and disaster reduction.

The researchers also cautioned that Europe’s skies were likely to be hit by further ash cloud shutdowns, following April’s widespread closures and several smaller scale shutdowns since.

The report warned that ‘future moderately to highly explosive Icelandic eruptions combined with appropriate weather conditions are highly likely to cause a repeat of the recent air transport disruption.’

The Eyjafjoell volcano began erupting on April 14, and spewed out an ash cloud that drifted over Europe and led to massive flight disruption throughout the continent for several days.

It caused the biggest airspace shutdown in Europe since World War II, affecting more than 100,000 flights and eight million passengers.
The UCL experts – encompassing scientists, engineers and statisticians also criticised the response to the eruption.

‘The severe disruption to European airspace in April from (the volcano’s) ash clouds reflect a lack of integration between the monitoring, warning and risk management systems,’ said Carina Fearnley, of UCL’s hazard research centre.

In a second report released on Thursday, a team of British researchers said they had discovered a significant electrical charge in the ash plume.

The scientists, from the Institute of Physics, said they found that ‘the ash plume which hovered over Scotland carried a significant and self-renewing electric charge.’

They warned that the charge could pose a risk to both planes and passengers.

‘Charged particles can cause aircraft radio interference and, if introduced into aircraft cabins, charged ash may present an electrostatic hazard to occupants or aircraft systems,’ said the report.

The scientists used a specialist weather balloon to conduct research on a section of the ash cloud floating over Scotland.
• Source(s): University College London

Share




Calendar

December 2019
M T W T F S S
« Aug    
 1
2345678
9101112131415
16171819202122
23242526272829
3031  

Archives

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 2 other followers

© Copyright 2010 Dominic Stoughton. All Rights reserved.

Dominic Stoughton's Blog