Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The Lake That Burned Down a Forest part 4

NeoArchean Canadian Deposits are Similar to Those on Mars

Iron-rich alkaline magmatism in the Archean Wawa greenstone belts (Ontario, Canada)


Kitayama et al


The finding of Fe-rich picritic basalts on Mars has stimulated interest in Fe-rich magmatism on the early Earth. Rare vestiges of Fe-rich magmatism have been identified in remnants of old crust, but many other lithologies reported as ‘enriched’ or ‘Al-depleted’ komatiites in Archean terranes may also be derived from Fe-rich primitive magmas. Although absent today and rare in the Phanerozoic, Fe-rich magmatism may thus have been widespread on the early Earth. Knowledge of the mineralogy and geological setting of Archean Fe-rich igneous rocks may reveal the nature of volcanic activity on the early Earth and possibly Mars.

We conducted a detailed petrological study of some of the best exposed of these terrestrial Fe-rich igneous rocks, which occur in the Pulpwood-Playter Harbours Sequence of the Heron Bay volcanics (∼2.6-2.7 Ga) in the Wawa oceanic plateau association of the Superior Province (Canada). Rocks from these Fe-rich igneous bodies range from serpentinized dunite and clinopyroxenite to differentiated gabbro. They followed the crystallization sequence: olivine ± chromite, clinopyroxene, Fe-Ti oxide and plagioclase. Whole-rock major and trace element analyses show that these Fe-rich bodies are mildly alkaline, and are enriched in incompatible trace elements. The parental magma that we calculated for the Fe-rich bodies is a strongly Fe-rich (∼19 wt.% FeOtot) alkaline magma, with at least ∼9 wt.% MgO. It represents the most Fe- and trace element-enriched end-member of the Wawa greenstone belts and may be the Archean equivalent of modern alkaline basalt.

Magmatic clinopyroxene compositions indicate that crystal fractionation occurred in a small closed-system under low-pressure conditions without significant recharge of magma. Our crystal accumulation models confirm that a closed body of this ferropicritic alkaline magma can undergo progressive crystal accumulation and differentiate to produce the Fe-rich rocks of Pulpwood-Playter Harbours. The observed range of trace elements is mainly controled by increasing proportions of inter-cumulus liquid retained in the rocks during their crystallization and the gabbros represent residual liquid portions of thick lava flows or sub-volcanic sills undergoing extensive closed-system differentiation (∼80% crystal fractionation).

Detailed mapping of the Fe-rich bodies revealed that they are underlain by tholeiitic lava and overlain by some volumetrically minor Fe-rich lava. These upper Fe-rich lavas are more enriched in Fe and incompatible trace elements compared to the lower tholeiites and correspond to mixtures between a tholeiitic magma and the Fe-rich alkaline magma parent to the cumulate rocks. The close spatial association between the tholeiites and alkaline ferropicritic bodies at Pulpwood-Playter Harbours suggests a mantle source in which local regions enriched in Fe- and trace elements melted to produce volumetrically minor, mildly alkaline ferropicritic magmas.

More Mysterious Giant Holes Have Appeared in Siberian Russia

Two more craters of unknown origin have been spotted in Russia's Siberia region, weeks after a similar-looking hole was found in the isolated northernmost area, a local paper reported.

The Siberian Times, an English-language newspaper, published pictures of two new giant holes discovered by reindeer herders, one located in the Yamal and the other in the Taymyr peninsula, both above the Arctic circle.

Chinese Police Shoot Dozens in Clashes in Xinjiang

Chinese police shot dead dozens of knife-wielding attackers on Monday morning after they staged assaults on two towns in the western region of Xinjiang, the official Xinhua news agency said on Tuesday.

A gang armed with knives had first attacked a police station and government offices in the town of Elixku, in Shache county, it said, quoting local police. Some moved on to the nearby town of Huangdi, attacking civilians and smashing and setting fire to six vehicles.

"Police officers at the scene shot dead dozens of members of the mob," the brief report said.

An initial investigation showed that it was an "organised and premeditated terrorist attack", Xinhua added.

The dead and injured include not just Uighurs but members of China's majority Han Chinese population, the report said.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Ukraine: Patterns of Advancement and Anxiety

Today was both frustrating and hopeful.

17 hostages in Gorlovka were freed.  OTOH, the huge chemical factory in Gorlovka was set on fire.  

The Ukrainians took the town of Stepanivka.

The Russians captured a Ukrainian border patrol which was on the Ukrainian side of the line.  The Russians continue to fire heavy artillery barrages on the Ukrainian army and border patrol.  

The Russians violated Ukrainian airspace today as well.

The Russians have massed very large amounts of equipment and soldiers on their side of the border.   Whether this is for their own use or for the rebels is not known.

The rebel attempts at counter offensives have as far I can tell fallen flat.

The rebels have started opening fire, small arms and some artillery, at the Russians.  This is looking increasingly like a planned justification for intervention since the rebels are being crushed.

The US and EU imposed more sanctions.  These are still targeted rather than sectoral.

Forces Which Effect Very Flexible Solar Sails

Dynamics of highly-flexible solar sail subjected to various forces


Liu et al


Solar sail is a novel spacecraft and has the potential applications in the near future. The large amplitude vibration should be considered because it is characterized by its huge and lightweight structure. In this paper, the supporting beam of solar sail is regarded as the most important structure and used to model the sailcraft as it accounts for most of the mechanical energies when it is in deformed configuration, also as the Euler beam can model the bending motion dominant sailcraft when it experiences attitude motions. The structural dynamics of solar sail supporting beam with geometric nonlinearity undergoing the forces generated by solar radiation pressure, sliding masses and control vanes are presented. The axial and transverse vibration equations with the properties of strong coupling, nonlinearity and time-varying coefficient matrices are obtained by using Lagrange equation method after calculating the related energies and works. The vibration equations are transformed into nonlinear algebraic equations utilizing implicit unconditionally stable Newmark-β algorithm for each time step. The nonlinear algebraic equations are solved by Newton-iterative algorithm. We compute and analyze the linear and nonlinear vibration responses affected by the mass and velocity of the sliding mass, the angular velocity of the force generated by control vane in detail. The computational results indicate that the mass and velocity of sliding mass affect the vibration responses (including the vibration frequency), but the angular velocity of the force generated by control vane hardly affects the vibration responses. Moreover, the linear and nonlinear vibrations are distinct obviously by comparing the linear and nonlinear responses. It is demonstrated that the geometric nonlinearity of the highly-flexible structure should be considered for performing vibration analysis exactly, and the vibration responses excited by the prescribed motion of the attitude control actuators should be analyzed carefully.

Proposed NY State Regulations for Bitcoin Have Caused a Bitcoin Community Rift

A new front has opened in the battle over Bitcoin.

Since New York became the first state to propose virtual currency regulations two weeks ago, Bitcoin enthusiasts have had a mixed reaction on whether the new rules will help legitimize the virtual currency or whether they will thwart innovation and threaten the very freedom that Bitcoin was meant to promote. The draft legislation has also exposed a division among virtual currency companies with enough resources to comply with the regulations and those without.

On Tuesday, some Bitcoin supporters are planning to send an open letter to Benjamin M. Lawsky, New York State’s top financial regulator, requesting more time to comment on his proposed legislation.

“Many of us are individuals or small start-ups operating on limited budgets without access to extensive legal resources,” the letter states. “This imposes a substantial burden as we seek to understand the proposed rules and their current and future impacts on our businesses, open-source projects and educational research.” The letter also refers to “inconsistent statements” and opaque language in the draft regulations.

Return of the Slime Mold Network

Whither the KMAX Unmanned Helicopter?

A robot helicopter that can carry three tons of cargo, the Marine Corps K-MAX certainly has the cool factor. But does it have a future?

After a six-month pilot project in Afghanistan got extended into a 33-month deployment that made 2,250 tons of deliveries, the two experimental aircraft have come home. Prime contractor Lockheed Martin is looking to the energy industry and — if export authorities approve — foreign military sales. Members of Congress have campaigned for K-MAX to become an official program of record for the US military, and Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) is now working with the Marine Corps on formal requirements and new concepts of operations, with demonstration flights likely next year. Lockheed is even planning a demonstration later this year in which the unmanned helicopter will work with unmanned trucks. For now, though, the two robocopters will sit in storage while humans study the deployment.

The crucial question for K-MAX is the same one as for so many other innovative items of equipment rushed into service in the last 13 grueling years: Is it just a useful niche capability for a war that’s almost over or something relevant to a range of future missions?

Fourth J-20 Chinese Stealth Fighter Prototype Flew on July 26th

The fourth known prototype of the Chengdu Aircraft Corporation (CAC) J-20 fifth-generation fighter made its first flight on the morning of 26 July, according to Chinese aviation websites.

According to online postings by local spotters, the prototype flew for nearly two hours after having undertaken taxi tests since early July. The first hints on military web forums of a fourth J-20 prototype with the tail number '2012' emerged in late June, with clear photos emerging by mid-July.

Images show that '2012' features the refinements first seen in the third prototype, '2011'. These include an undernose faceted shape to hold a future electro-optical targeting system, adjusted air intakes to aid engine air flow and clipped tips on the vertical stabilizers.

The new J-20 prototype does not give any outward indication that CAC has installed an indigenous turbofan engine, despite much online speculation. The status of the J-20's intended WS-15 turbofan is not clear, and it is possible that initially deployed J-20s may use a Russian-made turbofan, perhaps an upgraded version of the Saturn AL-31 or the newer AL-117S.

The Arctic Formed Black Shale During Cenomanian-Turonian Cretaceous Oceanic Anoxic Event (OAE 2)

Arctic black shale formation during Cretaceous Oceanic Anoxic Event 2


Lenninger et al


The Late Cretaceous Oceanic Anoxic Event 2 (OAE2) represents a major perturbation of the global carbon cycle caused by the widespread deposition of organic-rich black shales. Although the paleoceanographic response and the spatial extent of bottom-water anoxia in low and mid-paleolatitudes are reasonably well constrained for OAE2, similar data from high paleolatitudes are lacking. Here, we present palynostratigraphy and organic-carbon isotope stratigraphy from the Sverdrup Basin, Axel Heiberg Island (Canada). It is shown that episodes of high marine organic-carbon burial at paleolatitudes of ∼70°N is contemporaneous with the widely observed occurrence of black shale deposition during OAE2. Paleontological, lithological, and geochemical data indicate normal marine conditions with persistent anoxic bottom waters during OAE2. The results imply that the high marine primary productivity pulse during OAE2 may have caused massive organic-carbon burial on the Arctic shelf in general, with important implications for hydrocarbon source-rock distribution in the Arctic region.

Evidence of Subsurface Hydrothermal Activity From a Martian Meteorite?

A Conspicuous Clay Ovoid in Nakhla: Evidence for Subsurface Hydrothermal Alteration on Mars with Implications for Astrobiology


Chatzitheodoridis et al


A conspicuous biomorphic ovoid structure has been discovered in the Nakhla martian meteorite, made of nanocrystalline iron-rich saponitic clay and amorphous material. The ovoid is indigenous to Nakhla and occurs within a late-formed amorphous mesostasis region of rhyolitic composition that is interstitial to two clinopyroxene grains with Al-rich rims, and contains acicular apatite crystals, olivine, sulfides, Ti-rich magnetite, and a new mineral of the rhoenite group. To infer the origin of the ovoid, a large set of analytical tools was employed, including scanning electron microscopy and backscattered electron imaging, wavelength-dispersive X-ray analysis, X-ray mapping, Raman spectroscopy, time-of-flight secondary ion mass spectrometry analysis, high-resolution transmission electron microscope imaging, and atomic force microscope topographic mapping. The concentric wall of the ovoid surrounds an originally hollow volume and exhibits internal layering of contrasting nanotextures but uniform chemical composition, and likely inherited its overall shape from a preexisting vesicle in the mesostasis glass. A final fibrous layer of Fe-rich phases blankets the interior surfaces of the ovoid wall structure. There is evidence that the parent rock of Nakhla has undergone a shock event from a nearby bolide impact that melted the rims of pyroxene and the interstitial matter and initiated an igneous hydrothermal system of rapidly cooling fluids, which were progressively mixed with fluids from the melted permafrost. Sharp temperature gradients were responsible for the crystallization of Al-rich clinopyroxene rims, rhoenite, acicular apatites, and the quenching of the mesostasis glass and the vesicle. During the formation of the ovoid structure, episodic fluid infiltration events resulted in the precipitation of saponite rinds around the vesicle walls, altered pyrrhotite to marcasite, and then isolated the ovoid wall structure from the rest of the system by depositing a layer of iron oxides/hydroxides. Carbonates, halite, and sulfates were deposited last within interstitial spaces and along fractures. Among three plausible competing hypotheses here, this particular abiotic scenario is considered to be the most reasonable explanation for the formation of the ovoid structure in Nakhla, and although compelling evidence for a biotic origin is lacking, it is evident that the martian subsurface contains niche environments where life could develop

Stone Tools From Ionian Pleistocene Quaternary South Africa Found

Excavations at an archaeological site at Kathu in the Northern Cape province of South Africa have produced tens of thousands of Earlier Stone Age artifacts, including hand axes and other tools. These discoveries were made by archaeologists from the University of Cape Town (UCT), South Africa and the University of Toronto (U of T), in collaboration with the McGregor Museum in Kimberley, South Africa.

The archaeologists' research on the Kathu Townlands site, one of the richest early prehistoric archaeological sites in South Africa, was published in the journal, PLOS ONE, on 24 July 2014.

It is estimated that the site is between 700,000 and one million years old.

Steven James Walker from the Department of Archaeology at UCT, lead author of the journal paper, says: "The site is amazing and it is threatened. We've been working well with developers as well as the South African Heritage Resources Agency to preserve it, but the town of Kathu is rapidly expanding around the site. It might get cut off on all sides by development and this would be regrettable."

A Very Large Carcharodontosaur Found in Barremian Cretaceous Spain

A large-bodied theropod (Tetanurae: Carcharodontosauria) from the Mirambel Formation (Barremian) of Spain


Gasca et al


We describe an isolated distal femur of a large-sized theropod dinosaur from the Mirambel Formation, Teruel province, Spain. It comes from the Ladruñán-3 fossil locality, which represents a sandstone channel deposit that is early Barremian (Early Cretaceous) in age. This femur can be identified as belonging to an undetermined stem carcharodontosaurid allosauroid. The distal outline is similar to that of the basal carcharodontosaurid Acrocanthosaurus, which bears a ridge for the cruciate ligaments in the flexor groove and a deep but narrow extensor groove. This new carcharodontosaurid remnant extends the presence of this large-bodied theropod lineage in the Iberian Peninsula back to the early Barremian. The coexistence of carcharodontosaurids, ceratosaurians and spinosaurids in the Barremian of the Iberian Peninsula echoes the clade composition of large-bodied predator dinosaurs characteristic of other Early Cretaceous faunas in Gondwana. This suggests that Early Cretaceous Iberian ecosystems were as diverse as other Barremian European assemblages, with carcharodontosaurids being exclusive to Iberia.

Rhynchosaurs Grew Like Archosaurs

Osteohistology of hyperodapedontine rhynchosaurs from the Upper Triassic of Southern Brazil


Veiga et al


The first osteohistological study focused exclusively on rhynchosaurs (non-archosauriform archosauromorphs), based on the hyperodapedontines Teyumbaita sulcognathus and Hyperodapedon sp., from the Upper Triassic of Southern Brazil, indicates a relatively rapid growth rate in early ontogeny shown by the fibrolamellar complex, with a change to slow intermittent growth during late ontogeny represented by parallel-fibred bone with several growth marks. Contrary to previous studies, which described a typical non-archosaur reptilian bone tissue pattern for rhynchosaurs, with growth marks extending across the entire cortex, we demonstrate that, in both studied taxa, the initial growth rate was faster in comparison to the later. This suggests that the ability rapid growth at high rates was already present in basal non-archosauriform archosauromorphs.

Swedish Knaften-Barsele arc Formed, Accreted onto Karelian Continent During Orosirian PaleoProterozoic

Hafnium isotope evidence for early-Proterozoic volcanic arc reworking in the Skellefte district (northern Sweden) and implications for the Svecofennian orogen


Guitreau et al


The Skellefte district is a seemingly juvenile and heavily mineralized crustal domain in northern Sweden that formed between 1.90 and 1.87 Ga. It is commonly interpreted as a volcanic arc deposited on a basement (known variously as the Bothnian or the Knaften-Barsele group) that could be represented by older rocks (1.96-1.94 Ga) found in the vicinity. In order to understand the potential genetic relationship between the arc and the basement, Hf and Pb isotopes in magmatic zircons from key lithologies were measured by solution multi-collector inductively-coupled plasma mass spectrometry. It is shown that both geological groups display similar Hf isotope compositions, which translate into decreasing ɛHf with time. Overall, the data are compatible with reworking of the Knaften-Barsele arc to produce the Skellefte rocks over a short time interval from 1.90 to 1.87 Ga in a context of crustal extension with ongoing subduction. When the data presented here are integrated with general models of tectonic evolution of the Svecofennian orogen, they fit a scenario in which the juvenile Knaften-Barsele arc formed between 1.96 and 1.94 Ga and became accreted onto the Karelian continent located further north at about 1.92-1.91 Ga. Systematic north to south variations in Pb, Nd, and Hf isotope compositions throughout the Svecofennides, interpreted as resulting from an increase in Archean crust involvement towards the south, indicate a genetic link between the Proterozoic crustal domains of Sweden and Finland.

The Lake That Burned Down a Forest Part 3

Indian Dhruv Helicopter Crashed

An Indian Air Force (IAF) Dhruv utility-light attack helicopter crashed in the northern region of Uttar Pradesh on 25 July, killing all seven onboard, national media reported.

Video footage of the immediate aftermath of the crash taken by Zee News showed that the helicopter had come down in a village. Although no buildings appear to have been hit, the main body of the helicopter had been completely consumed by fire.

The cause of the accident is now being investigated by the IAF.

Russia has Violated the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty

he United States has concluded that Russia violated a landmark arms control treaty by testing a prohibited ground-launched cruise missile, according to senior American officials, a finding that was conveyed by President Obama to President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia in a letter on Monday.

It is the most serious allegation of an arms control treaty violation that the Obama administration has leveled against Russia and adds another dispute to a relationship already burdened by tensions over the Kremlin’s support for separatists in Ukraine and its decision to grant asylum to Edward J. Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor.

At the heart of the issue is the 1987 treaty that bans American and Russian ground-launched ballistic or cruise missiles capable of flying 300 to 3,400 miles. That accord, which was signed by President Ronald Reagan and Mikhail S. Gorbachev, the Soviet leader, helped seal the end of the Cold War and has been regarded as a cornerstone of American-Russian arms control efforts.

Russia first began testing the cruise missiles as early as 2008, according to American officials, and the Obama administration concluded by the end of 2011 that they were a compliance concern. In May 2013, Rose Gottemoeller, the State Department’s senior arms control official, first raised the possibility of a violation with Russian officials.

The New York Times reported in January that American officials had informed the NATO allies that Russia had tested a ground-launched cruise missile, raising serious concerns about Russia’s compliance with the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty, or I.N.F. Treaty as it is commonly called. The State Department said at the time that the issue was under review and that the Obama administration was not yet ready to formally declare it to be a treaty violation.

In recent months, however, the issue has been taken up by top-level officials, including a meeting early this month of the Principals’ Committee, a cabinet-level body that includes Mr. Obama’s national security adviser, the defense secretary, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the secretary of state and the director of the Central Intelligence Agency. Senior officials said the president’s most senior advisers unanimously agreed that the test was a serious violation, and the allegation will be made public soon in the State Department’s annual report on international compliance with arms control agreements.

“The United States has determined that the Russian Federation is in violation of its obligations under the I.N.F. treaty not to possess, produce or flight test a ground-launched cruise missile (GLCM) with a range capability of 500 kilometers to 5,500 kilometers or to possess or produce launchers of such missiles,” that report will say.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Ukraine: Hopeful, but Bloody Patterns

There have been a lot of developments since my last post.  The Ukrainians have been making sold progress in recapturing the Donbass.  It is not without its cost. There are differing maps as to who controls what. The one most common shows the Ukrainians have splitt he rebel territory into two:

Pervomaysk, Torez, the "mountain" of Savur-Mogyla, Snizhne, Shakhtarsk and Lutuhine have been reportedly taken.

The battle for Donetsk, Novosvetlovka, Lugansk and Gorlovka is on.

There are claims in Gorlovka, the rebels are threatening to kill hostages and blow up the chemical factory there if they are not given a 24 hour head start on retreating. The head of the Gorlovka rebels has also reportedly disappeared.

One side or another keeps shelling the residential areas. The Ukrainians claim they are only fighting house by house and using artilery away from the residential areas. The rebels are claiming they are not doing it and the Ukrainians are. The rebels have less credibility, of course, at this point by a long shot.

The Russians sent the largest convoy of equipment yet into Ukraine.  The Pentagon noted it was over 100 vehicles. The russians have likewise continued to bombard the Ukrainian army. There are reports a full Russian army unit (perhaps the convoy above) with Russian soldiers entered the Donetsk Oblast.

The Russians have supplanted almost all the Ukrainians in the rebel upper echelon.  It looks like they have decided to stop pretending this is really Ukrainian run and instigated. 

Worrisome is the fact the Kremenchuk mayor was murdered and someone attempted the same attack on the mayor of Lvov.

China's PandaX Facility is Looking for Dark Matter

The new PandaX facility, located deep underground in the southwestern Chinese province of Sichuan, hosts a large liquid-xenon detector designed to search for direct evidence of dark matter interactions with the nuclei of xenon and to observe 136Xe double-beta decay.

The detector's central vessel was designed to accommodate a staged target volume increase from an initial 120 kg (stage I) to 0.5 t (stage II) and ultimately to a multi-ton scale.

The technical design of the PandaX facility and detector is outlined in a new paper co-authored by Ji Xiangdong, of the Institute of Nuclear and Particle Physics, Astronomy and Cosmology at Shanghai Jiao Tong University, and published in the Beijing-based journal SCIENCE CHINA Physics, Mechanics & Astronomy.

While noting that cosmologists generally agree that 80 percent of the matter in the universe is made up of some form of "dark matter," these researchers also acknowledge that so far, no physicist has ever produced experimental data that provides convincing evidence for the existence and structure of dark matter.

"The standard model of particle physics, which has been very successful in explaining the properties of ordinary matter, can neither explain dark matter's existence nor its properties," Professor Ji and co-authors across China and the United States write in the new study. "Yet the discovery and identification of dark matter would have a profound impact on cosmology, astronomy, and particle physics."

"A leading dark matter candidate consistent with all astrophysical data is a weakly interacting massive particle (WIMP)," they add. "WIMPs could be studied in standard particle physics through either observations of ordinary matter particles produced through DM [dark matter] annihilations in the halo of the Milky Way, production of DM particles through high-energy collisions in accelerators such as the Large Hadron Collider, or WIMPs could be detected through their interactions with atomic nuclei in specially designed detectors."

Direct detection experiments are deployed in underground laboratories around the world. When WIMPs interact with nucleons in a detection medium, it is predicted they will recoil and generate kinetic motion of atoms (heat), ionization (free electrons) and scintillation (de-excitation of excited electrons).


States Besides New York Deciding on how to Regulate Bitcoin, Other Cryptocurrencies

Now that consumers can use digital currencies like bitcoin to buy rugs from, pay for Peruvian pork sandwiches from a food truck in Washington, D.C. and even make donations to political action committees, states are beginning to explore how to regulate the emerging industry.

Digital currencies — also known as virtual currencies or cash for the Internet —allow people to transfer value over the Internet, but are not legal tender. Because they don’t require third-party intermediaries such as credit card companies or PayPal, merchants and consumers can avoid the fees typically associated with traditional payment systems.

Advocates of virtual currencies also say that because personal information is not tied to transactions, digital currencies are less prone to identity theft.

With about $7.8 billion in circulation, bitcoin is the most widely used digital currency; others include Litecoin and Peercoin. All are examples of cryptocurrencies, a subset of digital currencies that rely on cryptography to function.

Many of the headlines generated by bitcoin and other digital currencies to date have focused on problems with the system. In January, for example, federal prosecutors charged the chief executive officer of BitInstant, a major bitcoin exchange company, with laundering digital currency through Silk Road, an online drug marketplace. Mt. Gox, based in Tokyo and once the largest bitcoin exchange in the world, stopped trading in February and filed for bankruptcy protection, saying it had lost half a billion dollars in virtual money.

Although digital currencies are far from widespread in their acceptance, their growing popularity — and potential for misuse — has prompted states to weigh in on what was previously uncharted territory.

“As far as we know, most state laws are completely silent on this topic,” said David J. Cotney, chairman of the Conference of State Bank Supervisors’ Emerging Payments Task Force, which in March began exploring virtual currency.

Among the questions the task force will consider, Cotney said, is whether bitcoins should be classified as currencies, investment securities or commodities, which could determine which regulators should apply.

Are You Human?

Update on the Cruiser Mock up Being Built at Wuhan & its Extrapolated Warship


US Army Developing 3d Printed Warheads, Artillery Shells

Every technology casts a shadow. In the case of 3D printing, for every potentially benign use —like bioprinting organs—there is an unsettling opposite like printing guns at home. Now, the army is looking to use 3D printing to make the world a more dangerous place in at least one more way: building deadlier warheads.

The army has been developing its 3D printing capabilities for some time now, and has technology already nearly advanced enough to bioprint replacement skin on the battlefield. But the military isn’t just interested in saving lives—more often than not, it takes them. In its latest bid to kill more people, more efficiently, and at less cost, the army is planning to print warhead components, according to the latest issue of Army Technology.

“3D printing of warheads will allow us to have better design control and utilize geometries and patterns that previously could not be produced or manufactured,” James Zunino, a researcher at the Armament Research, Engineering and Design Center (ARDEC) in Picatinny, New Jersey, told Motherboard in an email.

The ability to print parts previously unimaginable using traditional manufacturing methods could radically open up the possibilities when it comes to what a warhead can do. For example, warheads using 3D-printed components could be designed to be more compact in order to pack in additional payloads, sensors, and safety mechanisms. Planning for printed parts in the design process will also allow the army to precisely engineer the blast radiuses of warheads for maximum effect.

Tropical Sea Surface Temperatures may Have Exceeded 40 C During Paleocene–Eocene Thermal Maximum

Extreme warming of tropical waters during the Paleocene–Eocene Thermal Maximum


Aze et al


The Paleocene–Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM), ca. 56 Ma, was a major global environmental perturbation attributed to a rapid rise in the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Geochemical records of tropical sea-surface temperatures (SSTs) from the PETM are rare and are typically affected by post-depositional diagenesis. To circumvent this issue, we have analyzed oxygen isotope ratios (δ18O) of single specimens of exceptionally well-preserved planktonic foraminifera from the PETM in Tanzania (∼19°S paleolatitude), which yield extremely low δ18O, down to less than –5‰. After accounting for changes in seawater chemistry and pH, we estimate from the foraminifer δ18O that tropical SSTs rose by greater than 3 °C during the PETM and may have exceeded 40 °C. Calcareous plankton are absent from a large part of the Tanzania PETM record; extreme environmental change may have temporarily caused foraminiferal exclusion.

Do Desiccation Cracks Explain Polygonal Terrain on Mars?

Potential Desiccation Cracks on Mars: A Synthesis from Modeling, Analogue-Field Studies, and Global Observations


El-Maary et al


Potential desiccation polygons (PDPs) are polygonal surface patterns that are a common feature in Noachian-to-Hesperian-aged phyllosilicate- and chloride-bearing terrains and have been observed with size scales that range from cm-wide (by current rovers) to 10s of meters-wide. The global distribution of PDPs shows that they share certain traits in terms of morphology and geologic setting that can aid identification and distinction from fracturing patterns caused by other processes. They are mostly associated with sedimentary deposits that display spectral evidence for the presence of Fe/Mg smectites, Al-rich smectites or less commonly kaolinites, carbonates, and sulfates. In addition, PDPs may indicate paleolacustrine environments, which are of high interest for planetary exploration, and their presence implies that the fractured units are rich in smectite minerals that may have been deposited in a standing body of water. A collective synthesis with new data, particularly from the HiRISE camera suggests that desiccation cracks may be more common on the surface of Mars than previously thought. A review of terrestrial research on desiccation processes with emphasis on the theoretical background, field studies, and modeling constraints is presented here as well and shown to be consistent with and relevant to certain polygonal patterns on Mars.

Human Bone and Tooth Enamel Isotopic Ratios are VERY Different

Investigating inherent differences in isotopic composition between human bone and enamel bioapatite: implications for reconstructing residential histories


Webb et al


In archaeological research, human bone and enamel bioapatite isotopic compositions are commonly used to reconstruct residential and dietary histories. In doing so, enamel and bone bioapatite are implicitly treated as isotopically equivalent, but recent research has determined that carbonate–carbon and –oxygen isotopic compositions of these two tissues may be offset by several per mil. Here, we compare the isotopic compositions of co-forming bone and enamel from juvenile humans. We also assess the impact of a standard pre-treatment procedure for the removal of organic matter and exogenous carbonates on carbon- and oxygen-isotope compositions and on bioapatite crystallinity and carbonate content. Pre-treatment procedures had minimal effect on both enamel and bone carbon and oxygen isotopic compositions (±0.4–±0.9‰) and bioapatite crystallinity, and effectively removed exogenous carbonates. The offset between enamel and bone phosphate–oxygen isotopic compositions is relatively small (±0.7 ± 0.5‰). The offsets for carbonate–oxygen (+1.4 ± 1.0‰) and –carbon (+4.3 ± 1.2‰) are larger, and enamel is consistently 18O- and 13C-enriched relative to bone. Interpreted conservatively, phosphate–oxygen isotopic data from paired enamel and bone remain suitable for determining residential history, whereas the isotopic compositions of carbonate–oxygen and –carbon from enamel and bone bioapatite are inherently different and cannot be compared uncritically.

Itemirus: a Dromaeosaur From Turonian Cretaceous Uzbekistan


Sues et al


Skeletal remains of dromaeosaurid theropods are uncommon in the richly fossiliferous continental strata of the Upper Cretaceous (Turonian) Bissekty Formation of the Kyzylkum Desert in Uzbekistan. The phylogenetic position of the first published specimen, a partial braincase designated as the holotype of Itemirus medullaris Kurzanov, 1976, has long been contentious. Our examination of the specimen supports its attribution to Dromaeosauridae. Additional, mostly well-preserved dromaeosaurid skeletal remains from the Bissekty Formation include cranial bones, teeth, vertebrae, and some podial elements. They are tentatively referred to the same taxon, Itemirus medullaris, and establish the presence of dromaeosaurid paravians in present-day Central Asia during the Turonian.

Leaf Mining Insects Went Extinct at the KT/K-Pg Extinction in Montana

After the asteroid impact at the end of the Cretaceous period that triggered the dinosaurs' extinction and ushered in the Paleocene, leaf-mining insects in the western United States completely disappeared. Only a million years later, at Mexican Hat, in southeastern Montana, fossil leaves show diverse leaf-mining traces from new insects that were not present during the Cretaceous, according to paleontologists.

"Our results indicate both that leaf-mining diversity at Mexican Hat is even higher than previously recognized, and equally importantly, that none of the Mexican Hat mines can be linked back to the local Cretaceous mining fauna," said Michael Donovan, graduate student in geosciences, Penn State.

Insects that eat leaves produce very specific types of damage. One type is from leaf miners -- insect larvae that live in the leaves and tunnel for food, leaving distinctive feeding paths and patterns of droppings.

Donovan, Peter Wilf, professor of geosciences, Penn State, and colleagues looked at 1,073 leaf fossils from Mexican Hat for mines. They compared these with more than 9,000 leaves from the end of the Cretaceous, 65 million years ago, from the Hell Creek Formation in southwestern North Dakota, and with more than 9,000 Paleocene leaves from the Fort Union Formation in North Dakota, Montana and Wyoming. The researchers present their results in today's (July 24) issue of PLOS ONE.

"We decided to focus on leaf miners because they are typically host specific, feeding on only a few plant species each," said Donovan. "Each miner also leaves an identifiable mining pattern."

The researchers found nine different mine-damage types at Mexican Hat attributable to the larvae of moths, wasps and flies, and six of these damage types were unique to the site.

Evidence of a Very Slow Motion Continental Collision Between the Rhycian to Orosirian PaleoProterozoic

Geochronology and geochemistry of the Paleoproterozoic meta-basalts from the Jiao-Liao-Ji Belt, North China Craton: Implications for petrogenesis and tectonic setting


Li et al


Geochronology, geochemical and isotopic studies were carried out on the Paleoproterozoic meta-basalts and related rocks from the Jiao-Liao-Ji Belt, North China Craton, to understand the mantle source characteristics and the geodynamic setting. U-Pb isotopic dating using the LA-ICPMS method on zircons from the metamorphosed volcanic rocks reveals that they formed at ca. 2204 - 2158 Ma and were metamorphosed at ca. 1895 - 1919 Ma, respectively. The meta-basalts are of calc-alkali affinity and have arc-like geochemical compositions. They are enriched in LREEs ((La/Yb)N = 3.5 - 5.1) and LILEs (Sr, Ba, Rb), depleted in HFSEs (Nb, Ta, Zr, Hf, Ti), and show variable high ɛNd(t) values (+2.4 to +4.5). The basaltic rocks experienced significant fractional crystallization and minor crustal contamination during magma evolution. Modeling suggests that the parent magma of the meta-basalts was derived from 20% partial melting of spinel-garnet lherzolites that were previously metasomatized by subduction zone fluids/melts in the Late Archean. Petrological, geochronological and geochemical data suggest that the Paleoproterozoic volcanic rocks formed in an active continental margin setting and were subsequently deformed and metamorphosed to amphibolite facies due to the arc-continental collision at ca. 1.9 Ga, rather than in a continental rifting setting as previously thought by most workers.

The Lake That Burned Down A Forest (Part 2)

Germany Must be the America for Europe

Reluctantly, Germany in Europe has become a bit like America in the world, the indispensable power. It is too big, too successful, to be left on the sidelines. The danger of Russia must be confronted. The euro zone must not be left to fester, and the EU must be reformed so it does not break up. The relationship with America must be prevented from fraying over allegations of spying, and rekindled with a big trade deal.

Having acknowledged its guilt for past aggression, Germany is in danger of committing the opposite sin, inaction. Peace is not just the absence of war, but the defence of hard-won freedom. Many of those who call for “normalisation” argue that Germany must assert its interests. Actually, the burden is even greater: it now has to pursue the interests of all of Europe.

The International Effects of China's Internal Economic Rebalancing

NEAR the centre of Sumatra, an Indonesian island once blanketed by forest, a gash in the ground reveals the wealth that lies just beneath its surface. Large yellow diggers prise out coal and tip it into 60-tonne lorries that huff their way to the top of the open-cast mine in Pauh subdistrict. Five years of constant traffic, propelled by China’s hunger for fuel, has formed deep ruts in the dirt road. Recently, however, the lorries have stopped moving at midday. China’s appetite for coal has plateaued, the coal price has sagged and Minemex, the firm that operates the mine, has given workers longer lunch breaks, without pay. “We have no choice. We must endure,” sighs Demak, a sun-weathered 38-year-old.

Enduring might seem an apt word for Asian economies that had come to rely on ever-stronger exports to China. After averaging 10% annual growth for 30 years, the Chinese economy has managed only 7.5% over the past two years—enviable for most countries but a clear downshift for China. The lull has rippled through the region. Taiwanese machine-tool makers have seen exports to China fall by more than 20% since 2012. Australian iron ore for delivery to China recently hit its lowest price in 21 months. Jewellery sales in Hong Kong have fallen by 40% this year, in part due to China’s crackdown on corruption.

But enduring is not the right word for all those doing business with China. Analysts refer to milk as New Zealand’s “white gold”, such is China’s thirst for it. The number of Chinese visitors to Sri Lanka more than doubled in the first half of the year. Chinese women in their 30s are now the biggest group of foreign buyers on the website of Lotte, a big South Korean retailer, snapping up cosmetics.

These contrasting fortunes stem from profound, if gradual, changes to Chinese growth. Consumption is at last edging out investment as the economy’s main engine. Household consumption has been inching up of late as a proportion of GDP, rising from 34.9% in 2010 to 36.2% last year, according to official data. Some economists think the true share could be ten percentage points higher. This year even with the government’s “mini-stimulus”—a burst of spending on railways and public housing unveiled in April—consumption has still accounted for over half of Chinese growth.

Limited though it has been, this rebalancing is beginning to make itself felt beyond China’s borders.


Saturday, July 26, 2014

2092 3rd Street Design


346 Potrero Rendering


1500 Mission Rendering


New Lumina Rendering


50 First Street Rendering


The Evolution of the Orosirian Paleoproterozoic Arctic Canada

Sedimentological and geochemical basin analysis of the Paleoproterozoic Penrhyn and Piling groups of Arctic Canada

Partin et al


Paleoproterozoic metasedimentary successions on the western Churchill Province record a history of regional tectonic events spanning the breakup and amalgamation of supercontinents. Metasedimentary successions in the northeastern part of the Trans-Hudson orogeny, including the Penrhyn and Piling groups of Melville Peninsula and Baffin Island, respectively, have been understudied with respect to their basin evolution records. We present new sedimentological, geochemical, and geochronological data for the Penrhyn and Piling groups that record deposition on the Rae craton. New detrital zircon U-Pb age data indicates that deposition of the Penrhyn Group started after ∼1897 Ma and post-dates deposition of most of the Piling Group. The new maximum age constraints and stratigraphy of the Penrhyn Group do not support previous lithostratigraphic correlation with the Piling Group. Deposition of the lower Piling Group occurred in an epicontinental basin setting. The occurrence of detritus from the Meta Incognita microcontinent in the upper Piling Group (Bravo Lake and Longstaff Bluff formations) is interpreted to signal the onset of foreland basin deposition. The details of sedimentation in the Piling foreland basin provide an additional constraint to discerning the polarity of subduction between the Rae craton and Meta Incognita microcontinent that closed the Piling basin. We conclude that the Piling foreland system shows characteristics of a pro-foreland basin, implying that the Rae craton was the lower plate in the collision with the Meta Incognita microcontinent. Finally, with new stratigraphic and detrital zircon geochronological data for the Penrhyn and Piling groups, we provide a comparison with other sedimentary successions on the Rae craton whose histories were influenced by similar regional tectonic events.

What Were the Effects of China's 8.5% GDP Expediture on Infrastructure From 1992 to 2011?

SHANGHAI, which already boasts 14 subway lines, a high-speed maglev service, two huge modern airports, some 20 expressways and a bullet-train departure every three minutes, is about to add one more piece of infrastructure—the headquarters of the new BRICS development bank. China is setting up the bank together with the four other members of the BRICS club of big emerging markets: Brazil, Russia, India and South Africa.

Fittingly, the bank will focus on infrastructure lending to poorer countries. China is also pushing to establish another multilateral lender, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, which, as its name suggests, will concentrate on the same thing. With these two new banks, China is exporting a central feature of its development model to the rest of the world. It spent 8.5% of its GDP investing in infrastructure from 1992 to 2011, according to the McKinsey Global Institute. That was more than any other country, and well above the developing-country norm of 2-4% of GDP.

Given China’s growth—its economy expanded seven-fold during that time—the wisdom of investing in infrastructure seems self-evident. Research generally turns up a positive relationship between infrastructure investment and growth, especially in poorer countries. According to one broad survey of the literature by the World Bank, making Latin America’s infrastructure as good as East Asia’s would increase annual growth rates by as much as five percentage points in the countries with the worst roads and phones.

Yet it is difficult to isolate the precise effect on growth of any given project. Investment normally gives an immediate lift to GDP, whether it involves a bridge to nowhere or one to a crowded island. What matters is the long-run impact. Over time, infrastructure can gin up growth in two main ways. It can generate a rise in incomes if reduced transaction costs promote trade. And it can raise growth rates if it leads to greater information sharing and thus improved productivity. But these effects are hard to measure because infrastructure investment often coincides with economic growth, casting doubt on causality. Did the new roads boost growth or did faster growth increase demand for them?

Eurozone Still has Headaches, Weakness

AS IN a complex film script, at least two storylines have been in play for the euro zone this year. One is brightly lit, featuring the revival of both consumer and business confidence, the return of investors to the troubled economies in peripheral Europe and the continuing recovery from the double-dip recession. The other is sombre, focusing on the weakness of that upturn, the onset of disturbingly low inflation and the continuing fragility of over-indebted economies and their banks. The past few days have brought a reminder that this second story is not yet fully told.

A crisis at Banco Espírito Santo (BES), one of Portugal’s biggest banks, prompted a plunge in Portugal’s stockmarket and lesser tumbles elsewhere. Angela Merkel, Germany’s chancellor, said that the episode illustrated how swiftly market nerves could return and how fragile the construction of the euro remained.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Ukraine: Patterns of Pause?

Clashes continue but for the most part they are small scale and without a clear victor.  No towns seemed to have traded hands.

The Russians have continued to bombard Ukraine.  They are also preparing to transfer equipment across the border.  Some of this is much larger and heavier bombardment rockets than just the GRADs.  

In Gorlovka, the rebels are digging in.  They have brought in a fair amount of AA and tanks.

The Russians have been claiming the Ukrainians are routinely shelling the Russian side of the border and they are getting threatening over it.  The Ukrainians have been stating its army is NOT shooting at the Russians, even to return fire, and the attackers are really the rebels trying to act as a provocation for invading.

Along those lines, there have been some ominous movements (as if the shellings have not been) on the border with Russian army units coming right up to the border before turning and some claim the Russians are drilling to invade.  It remains to be seen.  The cost may be too high for that.  OTOH, if the fighting continues as is, the rebels are going to lose.  The Ukrainians are not going to accept a frozen conflict.

Japan is now threatening sanctions against Russia, fwiw.

There is a new video on youtube which is claimed to be the rebels as flight mh17 which states the rebels knew it was a large, single plane and not a fighter.  The question is whether or not the tape is from June or July.

The political situation seems to be chaotic in Kiev.  The intent apparently was not to have Yatsenyuk resign when the government collapsed.  That was his own decision.  Apparently, the Rada will vote on whether or not accept his resignation on Thursday as part of a no confidence vote.  I am guessing he was mad because he views the election as not being appropriately timed for the war.  Then again, I could be wrong.

Memristers Finally Here? HP to Ship in 2016?

A replacement for the ordinary transistor may make it to market by the end of this decade, an event that will herald a radical redesign of traditional computer architectures. The memristor, the subject of much study over the last six years, could become the basic building block for an array of new devices—from the sensors and memory chips being built into the "Internet of Things" (connected, sensor-embedded devices) to the giant computers used for big data applications by scientists, engineers and Wall Street.


The industry has several goals in making the shift. Memristors can vastly improve energy efficiency of electronic components, and are better able to cope with the floods of data expected from the Internet of Things, which monitor or control equipment or systems in factories, office buildings or homes. Essential to their development is a continuation of the exponential growth in computing power and storage density that has seen prices plunge over the past 40 years. For similar reasons, IBM has just announced it will spend $3 billion to pursue experimental "post-silicon" architectures and chips, predicting a fundamental revamping of existing systems in 10 years.

These changes will produce a fundamental overhaul of computer operating systems to accommodate hardware that no longer differentiates between dynamic memory and long-term storage. Bresniker sees the change as an opportunity to jettison layers of cumbersome operating system code that was previously adopted to accommodate the limitations of older hardware.

HP's current development timetable has memristors going into the earliest stage of production in 2015 and launching as DIMMs (dual in-line memory modules) for computer memory in 2016. The operating system for “The Machine” will go into wider public beta testing in 2017, and the new architecture is intended to be integrated into actual products in 2019. Even if none of this pans out, Bresniker believes the attempt is worth it: "Each of the elements is interesting…[on its own]. Pulling out that copper and dropping in that piece of fiber will be more efficient, even with a traditional computing and memory regime all around it…. We need a replacement memory technology. If it does nothing else than drop in where my DIMMs drop in today, that will be a useful thing."

WSJ: 10 THings Bitcoin Won't Tell you


The Robopocalypse has Arrived for Parking Attendants

Travelers at Dusseldorf Airport in Germany don’t even have to park their cars anymore. Last week the airport begin a using self-driving robot that resembles a forklift to deliver some cars to and from an appropriate parking space.

The idea is to get business travelers in and out of an airport as quickly and easily as possible. A driver can pull into a transfer station at the parking lot entrance and leave their car after checking in on a digital touchscreen. Sensors in the station measure the dimensions of the vehicle, and send that information to one of the robots. The robot, called Ray, adjusts its arms to fit the new vehicle, then drives to the transfer station and slides its arms around the tires to lift the vehicle off the ground.

US Army is Testing Black Hornet Pocket-sized Micro Drone

U.S. Army researchers are developing a pocket-sized aerial surveillance drone for soldiers and small units operating on unfamiliar ground.

“The Cargo Pocket Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance program, or CP-ISR, seeks to develop a mobile soldier sensor to increase the situational awareness of dismounted soldiers by providing real-time video surveillance of threat areas within their immediate operational environment,” officials at the U.S. Army Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center maintain.

Larger systems have been used to provide over-the-hill ISR capabilities on the battlefield for almost a decade, but none of those have delivered it directly to the squad level, where soldiers need the ability to see around the corner or into the next room during combat missions.

“The Cargo Pocket ISR is a true example of an applied systems approach for developing new soldier capabilities,” said Dr. Laurel Allender, acting NSRDEC technical director. “It provides an integrated capability for the soldier and small unit for increased situational awareness and understanding with negligible impact on Soldier load and agility.”

NSRDEC engineers investigated existing commercial off-the-shelf technologies to identify a surrogate CP-ISR system.

Prox Dynamics’ PD-100 Black Hornet, a palm-sized miniature helicopter weighing only 16 grams, has the ability to fly up to 20 minutes while providing real-time video via a digital data link from one of the three embedded cameras and operates remotely with GPS navigation. Tiny, electric propellers and motors make the device virtually undetectable to subjects under surveillance.

The size, weight and image-gathering capabilities of the system are promising advancements that fulfill the burgeoning requirement for an organic, squad-level ISR capability, but more work still needs to be done, Army officials maintain.

Several efforts are underway to develop three different aspects of the technology to ensure it is ready for the soldier and small unit.


China Tests Anti Satellite Missile on 7/23/2014

The U.S. says China has tested a missile designed to destroy satellites and is urging Beijing to refrain from destabilizing actions.

State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said the "non-destructive" test occurred Wednesday. She said a previous destructive test of the system in 2007 created thousands of pieces of dangerous debris in space.

Harf said Friday that the continued development and testing of destructive anti-satellite systems threaten the long-term security and sustainability of the outer-space environment that all nations depend upon.

China's state-run Xinhua (shihn-wah) news agency, citing a Defense Ministry statement, reported a successful missile interception test conducted from land within Chinese territory late Wednesday.

Understanding Supervolcanoes Like Yellowstone

Linking rapid magma reservoir assembly and eruption trigger mechanisms at evolved Yellowstone-type supervolcanoes


Wotzlaw et al


The geological record contains evidence of volcanic eruptions that were as much as two orders of magnitude larger than the most voluminous eruption experienced by modern civilizations, the A.D. 1815 Tambora (Indonesia) eruption. Perhaps nowhere on Earth are deposits of such supereruptions more prominent than in the Snake River Plain–Yellowstone Plateau (SRP-YP) volcanic province (northwest United States). While magmatic activity at Yellowstone is still ongoing, the Heise volcanic field in eastern Idaho represents the youngest complete caldera cycle in the SRP-YP, and thus is particularly instructive for current and future volcanic activity at Yellowstone. The Heise caldera cycle culminated 4.5 Ma ago in the eruption of the ∼1800 km3 Kilgore Tuff. Accessory zircons in the Kilgore Tuff display significant intercrystalline and intracrystalline oxygen isotopic heterogeneity, and the vast majority are 18O depleted. This suggests that zircons crystallized from isotopically distinct magma batches that were generated by remelting of subcaldera silicic rocks previously altered by low-δ18O meteoric-hydrothermal fluids. Prior to eruption these magma batches were assembled and homogenized into a single voluminous reservoir. U-Pb geochronology of isotopically diverse zircons using chemical abrasion–isotope dilution–thermal ionization mass spectrometry yielded indistinguishable crystallization ages with a weighted mean 206Pb/238U date of 4.4876 ± 0.0023 Ma (MSWD = 1.5; n = 24). These zircon crystallization ages are also indistinguishable from the sanidine 40Ar/39Ar dates, and thus zircons crystallized close to eruption. This requires that shallow crustal melting, assembly of isolated batches into a supervolcanic magma reservoir, homogenization, and eruption occurred extremely rapidly, within the resolution of our geochronology (103–104 yr). The crystal-scale image of the reservoir configuration, with several isolated magma batches, is very similar to the reservoir configurations inferred from seismic data at active supervolcanoes. The connection of magma batches vertically distributed over several kilometers in the upper crust would cause a substantial increase of buoyancy overpressure, providing an eruption trigger mechanism that is the direct consequence of the reservoir assembly process.

Exolance Mission to Look for Life on Mars

To find life on Mars, some scientists believe you might want to look underground for microbes that may be hiding from the harsh radiation that bathes the red planet’s surface. Various NASA rovers have scraped away a few inches at a time, but the real paydirt may lie a meter or two below the surface.

New concepts for Mars-probing rovers would use Martian wind to move around the planet. James Williams gets a look at two of the designs.
NASA, ESA, the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA), J. Bell (Cornell University), and M. Wolff (Space Science Institute, Boulder)

That’s too deep for existing instruments, so a team of space enthusiasts has launched a more ambitious idea: dropping arrow-like probes from the Martian atmosphere to pierce the soil like bunker-busting bug catchers.

The “ExoLance” project aims to drop ground-penetrating devices, each of which would carry a small chemical sampling test to find signs of life.

Understanding Prismatic Blades and Bladelets From Pinson Mounds

Functional analysis of prismatic blades and bladelets from Pinson Mounds, Tennessee


Kay et al


Hopewell prismatic blade industries are a standardized technology but not a specialized one. Exactly why they are ubiquitous and synonymous with Hopewell is a puzzle. That Hopewell prismatic blade technology satisfied basic tool needs concurrent with efficient usage of toolstone are beyond dispute. Prismatic blades from Pinson Mounds and other Hopewell sites in the Midwest and Southeast United States were simple, easily repaired, modular tool forms of variable usage. This functional evaluation of 125 artifacts documents far distant preferential exploitation of prismatic blade toolstone sources within the Ohio River valley and its tributaries, reveals statistically significant differences among seven technological types, explicates a production chain model for burins, and argues that prismatic blade technology had an equal or greater social meaning and identity as a quintessential symbol of the Hopewell Interaction Sphere.

Kulindadromeus zabaikalicus: a Feathered & Scaled Ornithischian Dinosaur From Jurassic Siberia

A Jurassic ornithischian dinosaur from Siberia with both feathers and scales


Godefriot et al


Middle Jurassic to Early Cretaceous deposits from northeastern China have yielded varied theropod dinosaurs bearing feathers. Filamentous integumentary structures have also been described in ornithischian dinosaurs, but whether these filaments can be regarded as part of the evolutionary lineage toward feathers remains controversial. Here we describe a new basal neornithischian dinosaur from the Jurassic of Siberia with small scales around the distal hindlimb, larger imbricated scales around the tail, monofilaments around the head and the thorax, and more complex featherlike structures around the humerus, the femur, and the tibia. The discovery of these branched integumentary structures outside theropods suggests that featherlike structures coexisted with scales and were potentially widespread among the entire dinosaur clade; feathers may thus have been present in the earliest dinosaurs.

some great pictures @ Archosaur Musings. Also at Lost Worlds.

Evidence of Paleoclimate Change in Early Triassic Iran

87Sr/86Sr stratigraphy from the Early Triassic of Zal, Iran: Linking temperature to weathering rates and the tempo of ecosystem recovery


Sedlack et al


Recovery from the Late Permian mass extinction was slowed by continued environmental perturbations during the Early Triassic. Rapid fluctuations of the Early Triassic marine carbonate carbon isotope record indicate instability in the global carbon cycle, and recent δ18Oapatite studies link elevated temperatures to the prolonged biotic recovery. High temperatures potentially caused enhanced continental weathering that was detrimental to marine ecosystems, but linking weathering rates to temperature has proven difficult. One proxy for weathering is the 87Sr/86Sr of marine carbonate; we present here an 87Sr/86Sr record from an upper Permian–lower Triassic succession near Zal, Iran, that is coupled to a δ13Ccarbonate record. An increase in the rate of 87Sr/86Sr rise from the Dienerian to the Smithian may be linked to elevated continental weathering rates caused by warming during the Smithian.

Geochronology of Meso/NeoProterozoic Carbonate Platforms in Brazil

Meso-Neoproterozoic isotope stratigraphy on carbonates platforms in the Brasilia Belt of Brazil


Alvarenga et al


Carbonate platforms were present worldwide during the Proterozoic Eon, and variations in their C and Sr isotope ratios are commonly used as a correlation tool particularly through the Neoproterozoic, when rapid secular change in marine C and Sr isotope values permit distinction between Cryogenian glacial events. In central Brazil, the late Mesoproterozoic and Neoproterozoic eras are represented by a thick succession of sedimentary rocks that were deposited, and later deformed, along the eastern margin of the São Francisco Craton. These strata are divided into the three major groups: (1) the Paranoá Group, which consists of a succession of sandstone, siltstone, rhythmite, and selected intervals of carbonate, (2) the Macaúbas Group, which consists of a glacial diamictite (Jequitaí Formation), and (3) the Bambuí Group with an important carbonate-bearing succession that includes characteristic “cap carbonate” facies in its lower strata. Carbonate facies of Paranoá and Bambuí Groups typically occur in unconformable contact, and when the diamictite of Jequitaí Formation is absent, it can be difficult to determine the stratigraphic position of these lithological similar groups. Furthermore, uncertainties in the age of the Bambuí Group has lead to several distinct interpretations regarding the age of the Jequitaí glacial diamictites.

We investigated the C, O, and Sr isotopes and chemical composition of carbonate rocks in five measured sections, including both pre- and post-glaciation carbonate successions. The δ13C (‰ pdb) values in the upper Paranoá Group occur in a narrow interval between +0.6 and +3.6, whereas the post-glacial Bambuí Group begins with substantially negative values (as low as −5.7‰) in cap dolomite facies and rises to values up to +11 permil in limestone of the upper Sete Lagoas Formation. Similarly, carbonate rocks of the Paranoá and Bambuí groups are distinct in terms of their 87Sr/86Sr ratio. Generally non-radiogenic ratios between 0.7056 and 0.7068 are recorded in the upper Paranoá Group, and ratios between 0.7074 and 0.7080, occurring within the Bambuí Group.

The stratigraphic pattern of the C and Sr ratios indicates distinctive isotopic characteristics for these two carbonate successions. The isotopic data for the cabonates in the Paranoá Group are consistent with a sedimentation age in upper Mesoproterozoic or lowermost Neoproterozoic, preceding the first Cryogenian glaciation. Carbonate facies and the isotopic data for the lower Bambuí Group suggest a relationship with the second Cryogenian glaciation.

The Lake That Burned Down A Forest (Part 1)

China Builds Unmanned Ground Vehicle Facility

The China North Industries Group Corporation (NORINCO Group) has set up in Beijing a facility to develop unmanned ground vehicles (UGVs) for the People's Liberation Army (PLA).

The facility, formally established in late June, is the country's first dedicated UGV research and development centre, according to a report by state-run newspaper China Daily on 23 July.

The UGV development centre was established as part of the NORINCO Group's subsidiary, the China North Vehicle Research Institute. This subsidiary has close links with the NORINCO Group's primary military land-systems production company, the similarly-named China North Industries Corporation (NORINCO).

The NORINCO Group has stated that the new UGV facility will serve the PLA, paramilitary, and civilian customers, as well as explore opportunities for exports.

California Arrest Warrant Issued for Eduardo Rosas Cruz: Carrier of Highly Infectious, Drug-Resistant Tuberculosis

Prosecutors in California have obtained an arrest warrant for a tuberculosis patient who they say is contagious and has refused treatment.

Deputy District Attorney Stephen Taylor said Thursday that police are looking for 25-year-old Eduardo Rosas Cruz, a transient who comes from a part of Mexico known for a drug-resistant strain of tuberculosis.

Tuberculosis spreads through the air when infected people cough, sneeze, or otherwise expel air from their lungs. The disease can be deadly.

Prosecutors say Rosas Cruz was diagnosed in March when he went to the hospital for treatment of a severe cough. He was supposed to stay in a motel room, where a health worker would deliver his medication and watch him take it. But prosecutors say he took off.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Ukraine: Grinding Patterns

Today was a strange one for Ukraine.

First off, the ruling coalition for Ukraine collapsed when the Udar and Svobada parties withdrew from the government. Yatsenyuk has resigned. The reason for this was to force new elections and to get try to force out the members of the Rada seen as obstructionist and 'traitors.' I sincerely hope Yatsenyuk regains his position after the election. Volodymyr Groysman was appointed as PM in his place.

Secondly, the Rada is has a bill before it to renew its nuclear status: 4351a.

The Ukrainians have taken Lysychansk.This is just across the river from Severodonetsk which the Ukrainians had just taken in the past few days in Lugansk Oblast.  The Ukrainians also took Verkhniokamenskiy in the Donetsk Oblast.

The rebels keep blowing up bridges. More in Donetsk Oblast especially. One in Gorlovka again and another with a train. Multiple sites have been blown for the railroad tracks.

The Russians have been increasing the # of shellings from their territory. One Ukrainian brigade (79th) got hit hard. This reminds me of the fights between the separatists and Georgians. I think the Ukrainians are aware of the danger and are trying to avoid the same outcome.  The US government has acknowledged this...finally.

There is an interesting video this morning (yesterday if you are a Ukrainian reading this) from a car-camera driving through Lugansk at 9:30 am.  There is not a soul in sight.

Both Canada and Europe added more sanctions.

China to Build Colossal Particle Collider to Dwarf Large Hadron Collider

For decades, Europe and the United States have led the way when it comes to high-energy particle colliders. But a proposal by China that is quietly gathering momentum has raised the possibility that the country could soon position itself at the forefront of particle physics.

Scientists at the Institute of High Energy Physics (IHEP) in Beijing, working with international collaborators, are planning to build a ‘Higgs factory’ by 2028 — a 52-kilometre underground ring that would smash together electrons and positrons. Collisions of these fundamental particles would allow the Higgs boson to be studied with greater precision than at the much smaller Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN, Europe’s particle-physics laboratory near Geneva, Switzerland.

Physicists say that the proposed US$3-billion machine is within technological grasp and is considered conservative in scope and cost. But China hopes that it would also be a stepping stone to a next-generation collider — a super proton–proton collider — in the same tunnel.

European and US teams have both shown interest in building their own super collider (see Nature 503, 177; 2013), but the huge amount of research needed before such a machine could be built means that the earliest date either can aim for is 2035. China would like to build its electron–positron collider in the meantime, unaided by international funding if needs be, and follow it up as fast as technologically possible with the super proton collider. Because only one super collider is likely to be built, China’s momentum puts it firmly in the driving seat.



The Backlash Against the New York Bitcoin Regulations

As New York takes its first stab at regulating the shady online currency Bitcoin, Massachusetts innovators say that such regulations could permanently stifle innovation and even push it overseas.

Bitcoin purchases are currently anonymous. Proponents say that fosters innovation and speedy transactions. Others say it harbors drug deals and even hitmen for hire.

The New York Department of Financial Services last week proposed a plan aimed at raising the curtain that now shrouds bitcoin sales, thereby making online currency trading far more transparent and accountable.

If accepted, the regulations would make New York the first state to have virtual currency legislation on the books, according to TIME.

The proposed regulations would require any company that wants to peddle bitcoin to obtain a licence to do so. They would also force the company to keep detailed books and adhere to rules intended to prevent fraud and money laundering.

“We have sought to strike an appropriate balance that helps protect consumers and root out illegal activity—without stifling beneficial innovation,” wrote Benjamin Lawsky, the superintendent of the New York State Department of Financial Services, on Reddit last week.

Boston entrepreneurs disagree, saying that such regulations if adopted elsewhere, such as in Massachusetts, would reverse the strides the state has taken to encourage innovation.

“The proposed NYDFS regulations would absolutely stifle innovation with this emerging technology, or at the very least, ensure that the innovation takes place overseas,” says Dan Elitzer, founder and president of the MIT Bitcoin Club. “Students and entrepreneurs would be prevented from even tinkering with basic applications and services that touch Bitcoin in any way.”

Robopocalypse of the Sea! Wave Glider Easily Weathers Typhoon Rammasun

It was a storm that would terrify the bravest of mariners, but a California robot swam through it without blinking.

The Wave Glider robot has weathered a direct onslaught by Typhoon Rammasun, battling 9-meter waves and gusts up to 216 kilometers per hour while gathering data on sea surface conditions, maker Liquid Robotics said Tuesday.

The surface robot, which slowly bobs through ocean waves at about walking speed, was remotely piloted through the storm on the South China Sea. The robot has a propulsion system that uses the motion of waves to move it forward.

Rammasun, the strongest typhoon to batter the region in decades, has left over 150 people dead in the Philippines, Vietnam and China, as well as hundreds of millions of U.S. dollars in damage. Typhoons, hurricanes and cyclones refer to the same kind of ocean storm depending on its location in the Pacific, Atlantic or Indian oceans.

"To our knowledge, this is the most powerful storm that a Wave Glider or any other sea robotic system has weathered successfully at the sea surface," Graham Hine, senior vice president at Sunnyvale-based Liquid Robotics, said in an interview.

"Interestingly, the telemetry shows no degradation of the system, so all of the sensing systems and vehicle performance seem to be nominal."

The robot in question will be recovered in about a week and was deployed for a corporate customer of Liquid Robotics, which has over 250 Wave Gliders deployed around the world.