March 2016

Co-Rotating Interaction Region (CIR) Hits Earth, Sparks Auroras

2016-03-15 // 0 Comments

Pi Day ended with an explosion of color. During the late hours of March 14th (3.14), a co-rotating interaction region (CIR) hit Earth's magnetic field, sparking bright auroras around the Arctic Circle. Sarah Skinner photographed the display from Abisko, Sweden: "After a rainy day, the clouds broke. Nothing could have prepared me for the colors I was then about to witness!!" says Skinner. "As the aurora developed the most intense reds I have ever seen appeared. Reds, purples, greens, so many colors; I could not believe what I was seeing." CIRs are transition zones between slow- and fast-moving solar wind streams. Solar wind plasma piles up in these regions, producing density gradients and shock waves that tend to ignite auroras when they strike Earth's magnetic field. The CIR has passed, but more lights are in the offing. Earth is moving into a stream of high-speed solar wind following behind the CIR. In response, NOAA forecasters say there is a 65% chance of polar geomagnetic storms on March 15th. Aurora alerts: http://spaceweathertext.com/ or http://spaceweatherphone.com/ [...]

VAN GOGH CLOUDS | in Mutare, Zimbabwe.

2016-03-13 // 0 Comments

Sunday, Mar. 13, 2016 Peter Lowenstein lives in Mutare, Zimbabwe. For a few minutes last Friday, he felt as if he were transported from Africa into a painting by Vincent van Gogh. "Just before sunset," says Lowenstein, "a thin band of wavy clouds developed above a cumulonimbus anvil and became iridescent." He snapped [the above picture]. These clouds, sometimes called "billow clouds," are produced by the Kelvin-Helmholtz instability when horizontal layers of air brush by one another at different velocities. It is widely believed that these waves in the sky inspired the swirls in van Gogh's masterpiece The Starry Night. The delicate pastel colors of the waves come from irridescence--the diffraction of sunlight by tiny water droplets in the clouds. As the sun set, the colors faded to gray, returning Lowenstein to his porch in Zimbabwe. [...]

AlphaGo’s ultimate challenge: a five-game match against the legendary Lee Sedol

2016-03-12 // 0 Comments

Game 3 - March 12, 2016 AlphaGo Takes 3rd Game & Match in Go tournament against Lee Sedol. "I'd like to congratulate the people who actually made this accomplishment possible, because it’s a work of art.” - Michael Redmond, 9-dan AlphaGo has just won its third straight game, claiming overall match victory against the best Go player of the last decade, Lee Sedol. Playing as white, AlphaGo won by resignation after 176 moves. Lee used up all of his time and two periods of byōyomi overtime, while AlphaGo had 8:31 left on the clock. AlphaGo created a large territory on the board but Lee Sedol used a few innovative tactics to start a huge all-or-nothing kō fight and complicate the situation. In the resulting kō fight, AlphaGo prevailed. Michael Redmond, 9-dan, American commentator said: “It’s arguable that in the first two games Lee Sedol was playing differently than his true style, trying to find a weakness in the computer. Today Lee was definitely playing his own game, from his strong opening to the complicated moves in the final kō. AlphaGo was ready for everything, including the kō fights, and was able to take the win. I’d like to congratulate the people who actually made this accomplishment possible, because it’s a work of art.” [...]

Unprecedented Things Are Happening With CO2 Readings at the Famous Mauna Loa Observatory

2016-03-09 // 0 Comments

It’s been record-setting hot lately. Just ask the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), which just released data showing that this was the warmest winter in the continental United States in 121 years of record keeping. Those of us in the know are familiar with the correlation between hotter temperatures and rising greenhouse gas emissions. This is pretty much the foundation of global warming. New data from the oldest carbon dioxide tracker on the planet—located in Mauna Loa, Hawaii—shows that carbon dioxide levels are also elevating to new, unprecedented heights. According to preliminary figures from the station, which is managed by NOAA, the average carbon dioxide level recorded during February 2016 was 404.02 parts per million—3.76 ppm higher than the average for February 2015. If this data holds, it will represent the biggest ever increase over a 12-month period since the station started taking measurements in 1958. The previous 12-month record at Mauna Loa was 3.70 ppm, from September 1997 to September 1998. [...]

Gas line explosion destroys building in Seattle, nine firefighters hurt

2016-03-09 // 0 Comments

SEATTLE, Wa. (NBC NEWS/WSPA) — A gas line explosion has destroyed at least two buildings in a Seattle neighborhood. Nine firefighters were injured after the explosion leveled several buildings early Wednesday, officials said. The Seattle Fire Department said eight firefighters and a battalion chief were transported to hospital following the “massive explosion” in the northern suburb of Greenwood. At least 17 fire vehicles were at the scene after one resident described as “an extremely loud boom.” The explosion happened just after firefighters arrived to the scene. It was not immediately clear what caused the explosion or how the firefighters were injured. NBC News was unable to immediately reach fire officials for more information. Dozens of residents said on Twitter they had been woken by the blast at around 1:40 a.m. (4:40 a.m. ET). [...]

Neuroscientists Explore How the Brain Handles Teleportation

2016-03-07 // 0 Comments

Technology may not have caught up to the teleportation devices of science fiction, but now we have some idea of how the brain handles “beaming up” from one location to another, thanks to research by neuroscientists at the University of California, Davis, involving some specially wired volunteers. The work is published online Feb. 25 in the journal Neuron. [...]