Monday, October 31, 2016

Canadians Channel Their Mean into Their Geese, but what if...

The Prime Minister was sweating. Profusely. He was on the phone. An ancient and impossible to crack phone. It had one use. It had one user. It was linked only to the Canadian Prime Minister's office and to Buckingham Palace.

"Yes, your Majesty. We have been getting the reports, too. It is deeply concerning. We are monitoring the situation as best we can and we are seeking to find out what is causing the aberration. I know that is a vast understatement, Your Majesty.

"Yes, I have seen the report a goose even went up and nuzzled an American after saving his life from a moose. There seems to be little effect on the populous other than the confirmed effects in Alberta: they have started saying "Y'all." They are still nice though. There are reports of something happening in British Columbia, but that may be merely some new strain of marijuana and not the Protocol breach.

"We are sure Wildrose is NOT behind this. They are as dismayed as the rest of us. When a Canadian goose cleaned up the mess it may on Danielle Smith's lawn and seemingly apologized, she immediately contacted me. She was aghast.

"Yes, Your Majesty. I am aware it is one of the signs of the apocalypse if Canada democratically decides to become American. I know the Crown cannot afford to have Hell freeze over: Victoria's Great Engine would seize and you would pass away leaving your Crown to Charles rather than William. I am aware of what your actions will be if the Protocol outright fails.

"We are doing everything we can to find the root cause. We will stop the Protocol Breach. We have our best agents searching: I promise. I will keep you aprized. Thank you, Your Majesty."

Trudeau's hands shook as he put down the phone. He reached for a cloth on his desk. A lesser man, a less in shape man, would have died of a heart attack half way through the call. Unfailingly polite she may be, but that Woman could be terrifying when her furnace was fully stoked.

He took a breath. He held it for a moment and then exhaled. He was risking much by not fully informing the Crown, but he knew he had to: if she suspected the chaos in the American election was tied to the Protocol breach...he shuddered.

For a moment, before he called in his Cabinet, he sat and muttered, "I know you are behind this. I just have to find you. No one has seen you in a week, not since just before the breach...I will find you. I will stop you. Whatever it is you are plotting."


Far, far to into the Canadian Arctic, kilometers away from any human settlement and in a place too horrific even for the polar bears, a brown coated animals howled in pain and anguish as its body metamorphosed. A cloaked figure watched with glee.

"Yes! Yes! Yes! Absorb their hate! Absorb their anger! Revel in their fear! Channel it! Use it! It is mighty! It is powerful!"

The furred creature shifted, screamed and contorted. It's paws changed, becoming unholy. It shifted and warped and lost its fur over most of its body. It became an unhealthy color, too long and far from the Sun. It howled and beat at the ground as the hate coursed through it. As the bigotry and ignorance racked its body, soul, heart and mind, it arched backwards into the air as bones cracked, shifted and reformed in its new and corrupt state.

The amulet around its neck glowed bright with a terrible darkness as the changes warped and remolded the creature until the power faded. Until the transformation was complete.

Then the Canadian Penny set within reverted to normal. A bauble on a necklace.

And the creature stood erect.

The cloaked figure cackled his mad laugh and smiled his sickly smile.

Doug Ford looked upon his creation and was pleased.

"Good. Good. Good. Arise, my creature. You are ready.

"Now. You need an appropriate moniker. I name you....Logan."

Friday, October 28, 2016

The Strontium Cycle of the NeoProterozoic was Driven by Seemingly Unique Paleogeography


Goddéris et al


The period spanning from 825 to 540 Ma is characterized by major changes in the surficial Earth system. This extraordinary interval starts with the breakup of the Rodinia supercontinent and eruption of a series of large igneous provinces and ends with the assembly of Gondwana, giving rise to the Pan-African orogenies. This paleogeographic reorganization is accompanied by a global climatic cooling, including the paroxysmal Cryogenian “snowball” glacial events. The 87Sr/86Sr of seawater displays a major long-term rise over this interval that is punctuated by episodic, smaller declines and inflections. We use a coupled deep time climate-carbon numerical model to explore the complex role of tectonics and climate on this distinct evolution in seawater 87Sr/86Sr. We show that the modulation of the weathering of the erupted large igneous provinces by continental drift explains the changes in seawater 87Sr/86Sr from 800 to 635 Ma. The subsequent sharp rise in seawater 87Sr/86Sr from 635 to 580 Ma is the result of erosion of radiogenic crust exposed in the Pan-African orogens. Coeval evolution of atmospheric CO2 displays a decrease from about 80 times the pre-industrial level around 800 Ma to 5 times just before the beginning of the Phanerozoic.

There was Significantly Less Sediment Laid Down During the Cryogenian NeoProterozoic (Snowball Earth) Glaciations


Partin et al


During the Sturtian and Marinoan "snowball Earth" episodes, ice cover is thought to have extended from polar to tropical latitudes. We test the supposition that such an extreme glacial climate, not repeated in the subsequent ∼635 m.y. of Earth history, would have reduced the vigor of the hydrologic cycle and thus diminished sediment flux to the oceans. With >500 sediment accumulation rates to characterize Sturtian and Marinoan deposits, we find median accumulation rates at least four to 15 times slower than expected for Phanerozoic glaciomarine deposits as characterized by >10,000 rates. Our comparison is conservative with respect to time span, latitude, and distance from the ice margin. Phanerozoic accumulation rates decrease systematically when averaged over longer time spans. Comparisons were drawn, therefore, at 5 and 57 m.y. time spans to match minimum Marinoan and Sturtian durations, respectively. Cenozoic glaciomarine accumulation also slows with increasing latitude from temperate to polar climates and with increasing distance from the ice margin. After accounting for time span, snowball Earth deposits at low latitude are found to be thinner than would be expected either for high-latitude Cenozoic glacial deposits or for very distal glaciomarine abyssal muds with ice-rafted debris. The rate discrepancy is not readily attributed to overestimates of the total Marinoan or Sturtian durations. If sediment fluxes during warm melt intervals did approach Phanerozoic rates, these intervals must have occupied a much smaller proportion of snowball Earth episodes than in younger glacial climates.

The Mawson Continent Formed During the Nuna/Columbia to Rodinia Transition


Goodge et al


High-grade metamorphic and igneous rocks originally mapped as the Nimrod Group represent the only known crystalline basement of the East Antarctic shield exposed in the Transantarctic Mountains. SHRIMP U–Pb age data from zircon show that this assemblage preserves multiple geologic events spanning 2.5 b.y. of Archean to early Paleozoic history, culminating in thermomechanical reworking and active-margin magmatism during the Ross Orogeny. New age data from igneous and metamorphic rocks, as well as from detrital zircons in metasedimentary quartzites, refine the Mesoarchean to Paleoproterozoic history and indicate the need to abandon the stratigraphic term Nimrod Group and its five formations. In its place, we redefine only the igneous and high-grade gneissic parts of the assemblage as the Nimrod Complex, and all other metasedimentary rocks exposed in the Miller and Geologists ranges are included in a newly defined Argosy Schist. Within the Nimrod Complex, the oldest layered gneisses represent magmatic Mesoarchean crust formed between about 3150 and 3050 Ma. Correspondence of U–Pb zircon crystallization ages with whole-rock Sm–Nd model ages indicates formation from juvenile mantle melts. Magmatism at ca. 3100 Ma was followed closely by high-temperature metamorphism, recorded by zircon crystallization at 2955–2900 Ma, likely due to high advective heat transfer and/or thermal insulation of newly stabilized crust. Metaigneous units with ages of ca. 2500 Ma indicate a late Neoarchean period of anatexis and/or magmatism, although the geologic context for these events is uncertain. Gneissic, eclogitic and metaigneous rocks record an important period of deep-crustal metamorphism, thickening and magmatism between 1730 and 1700 Ma, referred to as the Nimrod Orogeny, that may have played an early role in assembly of East Gondwana cratons. A new lithodemic unit, Argosy Schist, consists of interlayered mica schist, quartzite, amphibolite, and calc-silicate schist. Quartzites from the schist unit have two distinctive detrital-zircon provenance characteristics; one type has populations that correlate with dated gneissic and metaigneous units of the Nimrod Complex, indicating a proximal provenance, whereas a second type has detrital zircon ages resembling those from Neoproterozoic Beardmore Group sandstones, indicating a common broader East Antarctic shield provenance. Their maximum depositional ages range widely from about 2000 to 900 Ma, leaving unresolved their age and geologic relationship to either the Nimrod Complex or Beardmore Group, yet they comprise a metasedimentary assemblage that is distinctive from the Nimrod Complex. Recent findings of Mesoarchean gneisses in the Gawler Craton, geochronology from Terre Adélie, and our new age data from the Nimrod Complex thus highlight the importance of ca. 3.1, 2.5 and 1.7 Ga events in formation of the composite East Antarctic shield adjacent to the modern Transantarctic Mountains. Correlative crustal units may extend to the southern Prince Charles Mountains and Shackleton Range. Collectively, this extensive crustal province, referred to as the Mawson Continent, represents an elongate belt of primary Mesoarchean crust that experienced major reworking at ca. 2.5 and 1.7 Ga. The latter period includes both high- and low-P/T petrologic signatures, providing evidence of crustal thickening and magmatism that may signify collisional processes related to Paleoproterozoic cratonal amalgamation during formation of the Nuna supercontinent.

Calymmian MesoProterozoic Nuna/Columbia Supercontinent Reconstructed


Salminen et al


The Congo/São Francisco (C/SF) craton, one of the largest cratons in Proterozoic paleogeography, has been lacking reliable paleomagnetic data for the supercontinent Nuna interval (ca. 1600-1300 Ma). Here we provide a new paleomagnetic key pole for this craton from recently dated mafic dykes in the Curaçá (1506.7±6.9 Ma) region of Brazil. The characteristic remanent magnetization (ChRM) direction D=070.6°, I=54.0° (k=22.1 and a95=13.1°) corresponds with a paleomagnetic pole at 10.1°N, 009.6°E (K=15.6, A95=15.8°), which places C/SF craton in moderate paleolatitudes at the time of remanence acquisition. Primary nature of the paleomagnetic remanence is supported by a baked-contact test. A similar ChRM direction was obtained for four Mesoproterozoic mafic intrusions in Chapada Diamantina region. The new pole, only from Curaçá, for C/SF allows us to reconstruct the extended core of the supercontinent Nuna at 1.5 Ga. Based on coeval 1.5 Ga and 1.38 Ga magmatism in Baltica, Siberia and C/SF, we favor the position where Southwest Congo is reconstructed against present South-Southeast (S-SE) Baltica. We explore two alternative 1.5 Ga reconstructions of Nuna’s core. In both of them Baltica and Laurentia are shown in the well-defined NENA (Northern Europe North America) fit, together with Siberia in a tight fit to northern Laurentia. In reconstruction option A, more traditional fit of Amazonia with Baltica is shown, modified from the geologically based SAMBA (South AMerica BAltica) model to accommodate paleomagnetic data. In this option, however, West Africa must be extricated from SAMBA because C/SF has taken its place. For reconstruction option B, Amazonia is shifted to lie adjacent to NE Laurentia and West Baltica. In both options SW Congo is reconstructed against S-SE Baltica, but in option B there is a tighter fit between them, and there is a better match with our new paleomagnetic data for C/SF. In either option, separation of C/SF from Baltica and Siberia probably occurred at 1.38 Ga, the age of pronounced mafic magmatism throughout this sector of Nuna.

How Salty Were the Seas of the Rhyacian PaleoProterozoic?

PIXE and microthermometric analyses of fluid inclusions in hydrothermal quartz from the 2.2 Ga Ongeluk Formation, South Africa: implications for ancient seawater salinity


Saito et al


The Ongeluk Formation mainly consists of submarine volcanics (pillow lavas and sheet flows) composed of basaltic andesites that is between underlying and overlying glaciogenic deposits (i.e., the Makganyene diamictite and a dropstone layer at the base of the Hotazel Formation, respectively). The stratigraphic position of the Ongeluk Formation indicates that the Ongeluk volcanism occurred during a period of global glaciation. The Ongeluk volcanic rocks are host to subseafloor hydrothermal quartz deposits as drainage cavities and interpillow voids. The hydrothermal quartz contains many primary (Type 1) and secondary (Type 2) liquid-vapor fluid inclusions, as well as inclusions that are randomly distributed without a trace of secondary healed cracks (Type 3). All these fluid inclusions types were individually analyzed with microthermometry and particle-induced X-ray emission (PIXE) methods. The results show that Type 1 fluid inclusions are highly saline, whereas Type 2 fluid inclusions are relatively less saline. Type 3 fluid inclusions have bimodal peaks of salinity corresponding to those of Type 1 and Type 2 fluid inclusions and thus appear to represent mixtures between latter two inclusion types. Among the various fluid inclusion salinities of fluid inclusions, a wide range in Na/Ca values was identified in the high-salinity fluid inclusions (i.e., Type 1 and a subset of Type 3) which are thought to represent subseafloor fluids circulated by the Ongeluk submarine volcanism. The wide range in Na/Ca values can be explained by a mixing process between Na-rich and Ca-rich fluids associated with albitization of the host basaltic andesites. In the albitization process, Na is removed from the fluids and fixed by the host rocks; by contrast Ca is released from the host rocks into the fluids. PIXE analysis also showed two distinct trends (i.e., vertical and horizontal) on variation diagram of Ca/Cl versus Cu/Cl and positive correlations between Mn/Cl, Cu/Cl, Zn/Cl and Pb/Cl. These data are best explained by the presence of other mixing processes between; 1) a Na-rich, Ca- and Cu-poor fluid, 2) a Ca-rich, Na- and Cu-poor fluid, and 3) a Na- and Cu-rich, Ca-poor fluid. The Cu-, Mn-, Zn- and Pb-rich fluid likely represents a high-temperature hydrothermal fluid from a deep reaction zone in the Ongeluk subseafloor hydrothermal system. By contrast, the (1) Na- (and K-) rich, Ca- and Cu-poor endmember for the high-salinity primary inclusions is considered to represent the composition of 2.2 Ga Ongeluk seawater. We propose the estimation of 2.2 Ga Ongeluk seawater composition is > ∼2,237 mmol/kg of Na, 200–1,000 mmol/kg of K, < 135 mmol/kg of Ca, ∼3,230 mmol/kg of Cl (average values), and ∼400–500 of Cl/Br.

Evidence of "El Nino" Like Cycles From the Siderian PaleoProterozoic Huronian Glaciations


Howe et al


The Gowganda Formation of the 2.45-2.2 Ga Huronian Supergroup contains glacially-induced, varve-like rhythmites that potentially preserve a detailed record of climatic conditions during the Paleoproterozoic Era. Four rhythmic couplet thickness records were measured at two outcrops near Wharncliffe, Ontario for the purpose of time-series analysis. The couplets, which range from 1 – 32 mm thick, are composed of alternating layers of siltstone and claystone. Time-series analysis of the couplet thickness records using the MTM Toolkit of Mann and Lees (1996) consistently revealed periodicities in the range of 2.2-2.9 couplets per cycle, which is consistent with climatic cycles such as the quasi-biennial oscillation (QBO) and the El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) observed in modern times. This periodicity suggests that the rhythmic couplets represent annual deposits (i.e. varves). Evidence for the presence of cycles at 3.0-4.9 couplets, 6.6-6.9 couplets, 8.8-9.2 couplets, 22.8 couplets, and 30.1-31.0 couplets were also observed in some couplet thickness records; however, the presence of these longer term cycles was inconsistent from site to site.

A carbonate-based proxy for sulfate-driven anaerobic oxidation of methane


Feng et al


Sulfate-driven anaerobic oxidation of methane (SD-AOM) supports chemosynthesis-based communities and limits the release of methane from marine sediments. Formation of authigenic carbonates at active methane seeps is promoted by SD-AOM stoichiometry. While distinctively small δ18O/δ34S slopes of pore fluid sulfate have been shown to typify modern methane-rich environments, identification of such environments has been difficult for the geological past due to the lack of sedimentary pore fluids. However, if the isotopic composition of sulfate were archived in authigenic carbonate during early diagenesis, carbonate-associated sulfate (CAS) should display the characteristic δ18O-δ34S pattern. To test this hypothesis, we investigated the δ18OCAS, δ34SCAS, and 87Sr/86Sr signatures of authigenic carbonate minerals from three modern and two ancient methane-seep provinces. The data obtained demonstrate that all deposits regardless of age or location display consistently small δ18OCAS/δ34SCAS slopes (∼0.3) and CAS does not represent ambient seawater but pore-water sulfate. This finding confirms the utility of CAS as a recorder of SD-AOM in methane-rich environments. In addition, we report that aragonites bear higher CAS contents, 87Sr/86Sr ratios closer to that of contemporary seawater, and a larger δ18OCAS/δ34SCAS slope than calcites, reflecting the shallower formation depth of aragonite where pore-water has a composition close to that of seawater with high concentrations of sulfate. The new proxy can be used to constrain the record of SD-AOM through most of Earth history by measuring the δ18O and δ34S values of CAS of methane-derived diagenetic carbonates including but not limited to seep carbonates.

Evidence of Sulfur Oxidizing Bacteria Prior to the Great Oxidation Event


Czaja et al


The first 2 b.y. of Earth's history was an important time for life when microbes evolved and diversified into essentially all of the metabolic forms that now exist. Because of feedbacks between biology and the surface environment, understanding Earth's biological history can help us understand the evolution of Earth itself. The morphological and geochemical evidence for this ancient biological history is sparse but is increasing. Here we report evidence for 2.52 Ga exceptionally large, organic, smooth-walled, coccoidal microfossils preserved in a deep-water black chert in the Gamohaan Formation of the Kaapvaal craton of South Africa. These fossils occur mainly as compressed solitary coccoids that range in size from 20 to 265 μm but occasionally occur in short chains of cells. Morphologically these fossils are similar to Proterozoic and Phanerozoic acritarchs and to certain Archean fossils interpreted as possible cyanobacteria. However, their exceptionally large size, simple cell wall microstructure, and paleoecological setting, as well as multiple sulfur isotope systematics of pyrite within the unit, suggest that the Gamohaan Formation fossils were sulfur-oxidizing bacteria similar to those of the modern genus Thiomargarita, organisms that live in anoxic and sulfidic deepwater settings. These are the oldest reported fossil sulfur bacteria and reveal a diversity of life and ecosystems, previously only interpreted from geochemical proxies, just prior to the Great Oxidation Event, a time of major atmospheric evolution.

Methanotrophic Microbes in the Archean Oceans


Flannery et al


Highly 13C-depleted organic matter reported from Neoarchean formations worldwide has led to the concept of a “Global Age of Methanotrophy” (GAM) in the Neoarchean. A temporal peak in the GAM is suggested by values as low as −61‰ that are reported from rocks deposited at ∼2.7 Ga. Here we analyse previously reported values, report new field observations and isotope data, and re-evaluate the depositional settings of several units of this age. We find a statistically significant lowering of δ13Corg values in units of Neoarchean age compared to values reported from other Precambrian intervals, both older and younger, confirming the existence of the GAM. However, we also report a correlation between very low δ13Corg values and lacustrine units deposited during the Neoarchean. We hypothesize methanogenesis may have been promoted in some Neoarchean lakes due to local deficiencies of oxidants, specifically Fe3+ and SO4, relative to the Archean oceans. Lower availability of these oxidants could have limited higher energy yield metabolisms such as sulfate and iron reduction and provided an ecological niche for methanogens, ultimately resulting in the local burial of biomass highly depleted in 13C. We conclude that the exceptionally low δ13Corg values reported from formations deposited at ∼2.7 Ga could represent the prevalence of closed basin depositional environments preserved in the limited outcrop available, rather than a peak in the global age of methanotrophy at this time.

Evidence of Atmospheric Sulfur During the MesoArchean


Agangi et al


The Barberton Greenstone Belt of southern Africa hosts several Mesoarchaean gold deposits. The ores were mostly formed in greenschist facies conditions, and occur as hydrothermal alteration zones around extensional faults that truncate and post-date the main compressional structures of the greenstone belt. Ore deposition was accompanied by the intrusion of porphyries, which has led to the hypothesis that gold may have been sourced from magmas. Because the transport of Au in the hydrothermal fluids is widely believed to have involved S complexes, tracing the origin of S may place strong constraints on the origin of Au. We measured multiple S isotopes in sulfide ore from Sheba and Fairview mines of the Barberton Greenstone Belt to distinguish “deep” S sources (e.g. magmas) from “surface” S sources (i.e. rocks of the volcano-sedimentary succession that contain S processed in the atmosphere preserved as sulfide and sulfate minerals). Ion probe (SIMS) analyses of pyrite from ore zones indicate mass-independent fractionation of S isotopes (Δ33S = −0.6‰ to +1.0‰) and the distribution of the analyses in the Δ33S–δ34S space matches the distribution peak of previously published analyses of pyrite from the entire volcano-sedimentary succession. Notwithstanding that the H2O–CO2 components of the fluids may have been introduced from a deep source external to the greenstone belt rocks, the fact that S bears an atmospheric signature suggests the hypothesis that the source of Au should also be identified in the supracrustal succession of the greenstone belt. Our findings differ from conclusions of previous studies of other Archaean shear-hosted Au deposits based on mineralogical and isotopic evidence, which suggested a magmatic or mantle source for Au, and imply that there is no single model that can be applied to this type of mineralisation in the Archaean.

Methane Did NOT Warm the Early Earth

For at least a billion years of the distant past, planet Earth should have been frozen over but wasn't. Scientists thought they knew why, but a new modeling study from the Alternative Earths team of the NASA Astrobiology Institute has fired the lead actor in that long-accepted scenario.

Humans worry about greenhouse gases, but between 1.8 billion and 800 million years ago, microscopic ocean dwellers really needed them. The sun was 10 to 15 percent dimmer than it is today--too weak to warm the planet on its own. Earth required a potent mix of heat-trapping gases to keep the oceans liquid and livable.

For decades, atmospheric scientists cast methane in the leading role. The thinking was that methane, with 34 times the heat-trapping capacity of carbon dioxide, could have reigned supreme for most of the first 3.5 billion years of Earth history, when oxygen was absent initially and little more than a whiff later on. (Nowadays oxygen is one-fifth of the air we breathe, and it destroys methane in a matter of years.)

"A proper accounting of biogeochemical cycles in the oceans reveals that methane has a much more powerful foe than oxygen," said Stephanie Olson, a graduate student at the University of California, Riverside, a member of the Alternative Earths team and lead author of the new study published September 26 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. "You can't get significant methane out of the ocean once there is sulfate."

Sulfate wasn't a factor until oxygen appeared in the atmosphere and triggered oxidative weathering of rocks on land. The breakdown of minerals such as pyrite produces sulfate, which then flows down rivers to the oceans. Less oxygen means less sulfate, but even 1 percent of the modern abundance is sufficient to kill methane, Olson said.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Scuffle in the South China Sea #69

China has urged Australia to be cautious with the South China Sea dispute.

There have been hints China might give Philippines access to the Scarborough Shoal again, one of the disputed isles.  this may be a carrot to pull Duterte into China's orbit. 

China mocked the US' interventions in Asia.

The US Navy conducted a freedom of navigation operation near one of the disputed Paracel Islands in the South China Sea.  This sail-by was also a test of the ability of the US Navy to conduct a two front war in Asia.  China, of course, condemned the operation.

The US & Vietnam have agreed the rule of law is a must for the South China Sea.

Duterte is making everyone frustrated and nervous.  The Philippines President seems to be doing his best Donald Trump impression.  Duterte went to China in a diplomatic visit (and then Japan).  China praised the visit and Duterte was praised by China prior to the visit.  Prior to the visit, he stated the South China Sea dispute would take a backseat to other concerns there.   He announced he would be interested in war games with China and Russia.  

Duterte also stated Philippines would be ending its ties with the US, then walked it back to just to just military ties and then stated cooperation would not end.  The Filippino govies spun it as 'he really didn't mean that exactly.'  The US was puzzled by the affair since no request to change cooperation has been submitted.  The announcement has made things even more uncertainty but the US will be maintaining its commitments to the Philippines. Kerry has stated he can still work with Duterte. (good luck, dude)  If Duterte kicks out the US, there will be consequences.

The Americans in the Philippines are rather jittery given his propensity for killing

China and Philippines have restored ties and have restarted discussions on the South China Sea: this is seen as a victory for China since Philippines is not pressing its win in the International Tribunal.

Filippinos trust the US more than China it seems.

The court ruling has not made the situation clearer in the South China Sea at least on the operational side.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Humanity Lectures


We curse them. We worship them. We are in of them. We despise them. They have shaped the Galaxy and the know Universe like no other species before or since.

Humanity. The Children of Man. The Children of Earth. The Spawn of Gaia. Those Who Shall Not Be Named.

They were once not what we know of or think we do, but we'll get to that later. They were once one hybridized, single-system confined species. They were once something simple.

Merely biped, they were mildly sexually dimorphic and slightly varied pheotypically. They bore live young. They were the sole species of sophont life on their world at the time of discovery and when they initially exploded into the galaxy.

They were a species of contradictions. Brave and craven, brilliant and stupid. Purely sophomoric. Even their origin was ironic: they seemed to have originated in a tropical environment...but during global glaciations.

They were not the strongest, smartest, best at anything, but yet were able and willing to endure more, try over and over and practice and gain wisdom through their errors: they learned by doing.

They had tamed their world. Nothing dared hunt Humanity. All of Humanity's competitors were wiped out. The ecosystem had been reorganized to support their population, then made more efficient and the footprint for their population purposefully shrunk so as to return parts of their world to the Wild once more.

At the time of the Attack, just after their discovery, they had 10 billion individuals living upon their world. With the majority living within great cities, their population had stabilized. There was little want for the minimum of necessities. Or so sayeth the oldest of the evidence we have.

They had, to be sure, spread within their stellar system: they had colonized the so called Red Planet and a few thousand lived there. They was even an odd claim they had balloon cities floating in the clouds of the second world.

No evidence of this has been found. In times after, when colonizing a gas giant or another world, they would often adapt their phenotype to their new environment. At first they made pains to allow the new traits to be passed on to the general population of Humanity. The creation of the Children of Humanity Movement would end the antispeciation bias. However, that was to be in the future.

Humanity, was still restricted to their stellar system and had shown no great hope, desire or drive to leave.

We do not know the exact date. We do not know the exact locale. We do know that the Gr#!z attacked what has been described as the Capital.

This city was described as the center of their 'world.' It was supposed to exist on the edge of a great sea derived from a continental rift in the supercontinent of their world.

It was utterly destroyed. A smoking crater existed where once a metropolis of 30 million used to exist. There was 100% death. No human survived.

And this was merely the opening shot of the Gr#!z's invasion of Earth.

The Gr#!z had assumed the Humans were like them and were very centralized. Take out the leaders. Take out the brain. The rest would die. Proverbially at least.

The Gr#!z completely underestimated Humanity. As so many would do so afterwards. You would think sentients would learn, but, no, they did not. Not until it was too late.

Humanity, with individual initiative, with individual courage, with individual sacrifice that added up to so much more, stomped the Gr#!z forces into the ground, burned them from the sky and chased them from their stellar system.

And, yet, did not pursue the Gr#!z. The Gr#!z prepared for the onslaught they was to come. Yet, it did not. No great fleets appeared above their worlds. No insurgent bombs. No relativistic projectiles to be thwarted. Nothing.

The Gr#!z were perplexed and built a fleet once more. Defense turned to offense, but they went back stealthily, at least as much as physics allows, to recon the system.

Humanity had prevailed. They had been rebuilding their worlds. Their lives. Their ways of life. They had seen enough of war. The Gr#!z were gone. Why do more? They were obviously not ready for the rest of the galaxy just yet. So, stay home, tend the garden, and not let that happen again.

The Gr#!z met this memetic mess with derision and attacked. They did not get past the Death World of the Five Moons. Their fleet was utterly destroyed.

With this, the Humans boiled out into the Galaxy. For two decades, the Humans fought their way through the Gr#!z Fleet. They conquered world after world. Taking place after place from the Gr#!z until only the Gr#!z homeworld was left.

The might of Humanity then massed against the Gr#!z. They rained fire upon the Gr#!z. They smashed the world. They tore apart and shredded the surface of the Gr#!z homeworld.

Then they landed. Then they fought from hut and hive to burrow and barrow. Humans fought and killed and destroyed any Gr#!z that resisted. Even in the slightest.

And, then, in the aftermath, with the Gr#!z defeated and expecting genocide, with the Galaxy shocked and looking on, with the might of Humanity poised to wipe the memory of the Gr#!z from existence, Humanity reached out its collective hand and grabbed the proverbial tentacle of the Gr#!z.

And lifted them up.

And rebuilt their worlds.

And saved the Gr#!z from extinction.

And returned home.

Despite having the righteous wrath of hundreds of millions dead, despite the split blood and ocher of billions, despite having the complete power to utterly end the Gr#!z as a warning to the Galaxy, Humanity did not leave behind a single garrison, a single trooper, a single bot.

Humanity only left a warning: do not do that again.

That was so Human of them. Burn worlds to ash, rebuild those worlds, and leave them in peace. That amazing contradiction. That amazing heavenly peace and hell fire in one.

Absorb it, taste it, know it and perceive it. This was what won them the galaxy.

That wondrous contradiction: that utterly merciful brutal humanity in Humanity.

Russia Conducted a Hypersonic Weapons Test

On October 25 2016 the Strategic Rocket Forces carried out a successful test launch of an UR-100NUTTH/SS-19 missile from the Dombarovskiy basing area. The missile was launched at 11:58 MSK (08:58 UTC). According to a ministry of defense representative, the payload was "successfully delivered" to the Kura test site in Kamchatka.

This is probably another test of the Project 4202 hypersonic vehicle, similar to that conducted in April 2016.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Generation of Highly Inclined Trans-Neptunian Objects by Planet Nine


Batygin et al


The trans-Neptunian region of the solar system exhibits an intricate dynamical structure, much of which can be explained by an instability-driven orbital history of the giant planets. However, the origins of a highly inclined, and in certain cases retrograde, population of trans-Neptunian objects remain elusive within the framework of this evolutionary picture. In this work, we show that the existence of a distant, Neptune-like planet that resides on an eccentric and mildly inclined orbit fully accounts for the anomalous component the trans-Neptunian orbital distribution. Adopting the same parameters for Planet Nine as those previously invoked to explain the clustering of distant Kuiper belt orbits in physical space, we carry out a series of numerical experiments which elucidate the physical process though which highly inclined Kuiper belt objects with semi-major axes smaller than 100 AU are generated. The identified dynamical pathway demonstrates that enigmatic members of the Kuiper belt such as Drac and Niku are derived from the extended scattered disk of the solar system.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Doubts About Planet Nine?

Consequences of a Distant Massive Planet on the Large Semi-major Axis Trans-Neptunian Objects


Shankman et al


We explore the distant giant planet hypothesis by integrating the large semi-major axis, large pericenter Trans-Neptunian Objects (TNOs) in the presence of the giant planets and an external perturber whose orbit is consistent with the proposed distant, eccentric, and inclined giant planet, so called planet 9. We find that TNOs with semi-major axes greater than 250 au experience some longitude of perihelion shepherding, but that a generic outcome of such evolutions is that the TNOs evolve to larger pericenter orbits, and commonly get raised to retrograde inclinations. This pericenter and inclination evolution requires a massive disk of TNOs (tens of M$_\Earth$) in order to explain the detection of the known sample today. Some of the highly inclined orbits produced by the examined perturbers will be inside of the orbital parameter space probed by prior surveys, implying a missing signature of the 9th planet scenario. The distant giant planet scenarios explored in this work do not reproduce the observed signal of simultaneous clustering in argument of pericenter, longitude of the ascending node, and longitude of perihelion in the region of the known TNOs.

Shaping of the inner Oort cloud by Planet Nine


Michaely et al


We present a numerical calculation of the dynamical interaction between the proposed Planet Nine and an initially thin circular debris disk around the Sun for 4Gyr, accounting the secular perturbation of the four giant planets. We show that Planet Nine governs the dynamics in between 1000-5000AU and forms spherical structure in the inner part (~1000AU) surrounded by an inclined disk aligned to its orbital plane. This structure is the outcome of mean motion resonances and secular interaction with Planet Nine. We compare the morphology of this structure with the outcome from a fly-by encounter of a star with the debris disk and show distinct differences between the two scenarios. We predict that this structure serves as a source of comets and calculate the resulting comet production rate to be detectable.

Explaining the Short Rotation Period of Hi'iaka, Haumea's Largest Satellite


Hastings et al


Hi'iaka is the larger outer satellite of the dwarf planet Haumea. Using relative photometry from the Hubble Space Telescope and Magellan and a phase dispersion minimization analysis, we have identified the rotation period of Hi'iaka to be ~9.8 hrs (double-peaked). This is ~120 times faster than its orbital period, creating new questions about the formation of this system and possible tidal evolution. The rapid rotation suggests that Hi'iaka could have a significant obliquity and spin precession that could be visible in light curves within a few years. We then turn to an investigation of what we learn about the (presently unclear) formation of the Haumea system and family based on this unexpectedly rapid rotation rate. We explore the importance of the initial semi-major axis and rotation period in tidal evolution theory and find they strongly influence the time required to despin to synchronous rotation, relevant to understanding a wide variety of satellite and binary systems. We find that despinning tides do not necessarily lead to synchronous spin periods for Hi'iaka, even if it formed near the Roche limit. Therefore the short rotation period of Hi'iaka does not rule out significant tidal evolution. Hi'iaka's spin period is also consistent with formation near its current location and spin up due to Haumea-centric impactors.

News From Pluto: Clouds on Pluto, Landslides on Charon

By the end of this week, all the data gathered by the New Horizons spacecraft during its July 2015 flyby of the Pluto system will have finished downloading to Earth and be in the hands of the science team. Bonnie Buratti, a science team co-investigator said they have gone from being able to look at the pretty pictures to doing the hard work required to study the data. During today’s press briefing from the Division of Planetary Sciences conference, the New Horizons team shared a few interesting and curious findings they’ve found in the data so far.

While the famous global view of Pluto appears to show a cloud-free dwarf planet, Principal investigator Alan Stern said the team has now take a closer look and found handful of potential clouds in images taken with New Horizons’ cameras.

“Clouds are common in the atmospheres of the solar system,” Stern said during the briefing, “ and a natural question was whether Pluto, with a nitrogen atmosphere, has any clouds.”

ESA's Exomars Schiaparelli Lander Lost

Essential data from the ExoMars Schiaparelli lander sent to its mothership Trace Gas Orbiter during the module’s descent to the Red Planet’s surface yesterday has been downlinked to Earth and is currently being analysed by experts.

Early indications from both the radio signals captured by the Giant Metrewave Radio Telescope (GMRT), an experimental telescope array located near Pune, India, and from orbit by ESA’s Mars Express, suggested the module had successfully completed most steps of its 6-minute descent through the martian atmosphere. This included the deceleration through the atmosphere, and the parachute and heat shield deployment, for example.

But the signals recorded by both Pune and Mars Express stopped shortly before the module was expected to touchdown on the surface. Discrepancies between the two data sets are being analysed by experts at ESA’s space operations centre in Darmstadt, Germany.

The detailed telemetry recorded by the Trace Gas Orbiter was needed to better understand the situation. At the same time as Schiaparelli’s descent, the orbiter was performing a crucial ‘Mars Orbit Insertion’ manoeuvre – which it completed successfully. These important data were recorded from Schiaparelli and beamed back to Earth in the early hours of Thursday morning.


In fact, ESA stated the lander may have exploded.

NASA appears to have found what may be the wreckage.

Boeing CST-100/Starliner First Flight Delayed 6 Months

Boeing is delaying a series of test flights of its CST-100 Starliner commercial crew vehicle by up to six months, pushing back the first operational mission of the capsule until the end of 2018.

Boeing spokesman William Barksdale said Oct. 11 that a number of development and production issues with the spacecraft led the company to reschedule the test flights that are part of its Commercial Crew Transportation Capability (CCtCap) contract with NASA. News of the delay was first reported by Aviation Week.

Under the revised schedule, a pad abort test of the CST-100, previously scheduled for October 2017, is now planned for January 2018. An uncrewed CST-100 flight, called the Orbital Flight Test, has shifted from December 2017 to June 2018.

A crewed flight test of the CST-100 to the International Space Station, carrying a NASA astronaut and Boeing test pilot, has been delayed from February to August 2018. If that schedule holds, Being anticipates flying its first operational, or “post-certification,” CST-100 mission to the ISS in December 2018.

China Launched Shenzhou-11 Carrying two Taikonauts, Docks With Chinese Space Station Tiangong-2

The Chinese spacecraft Shenzhou-11 – and its crew of two taikonauts – has successfully docked with the Tiangong-2 space module at 19:24 UTC. The docking begins a month long mission in which the crew will conduct a series of experiments aimed at progressing China’s ambitions in space.

Orbital ATK's Antares Rocket Returns to Flight With ISS Cyrngus Resupply Mission

In its first flight in nearly two years, an Orbital ATK Antares successfully launched a Cygnus cargo spacecraft to the International Space Station Oct. 17.

The Antares lifted off from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport at Wallops Island, Virginia, at 7:45 p.m. Eastern, at the end of a five-minute launch window. The launch shifted from the beginning to the end of the window because of an unspecified but minor engine issue.

The launch itself went as planned, as the RD-181 engines in the first stage and the Castor 30XL motor in the second stage accelerated the Cygnus spacecraft, on a mission designated OA-5, into orbit. The Cygnus separated from the Antares’ upper stage nine minutes after liftoff.

The launch was the first for the Antares since an October 2014 mission that suffered an engine failure seconds after liftoff, causing the vehicle to fall back to the ground and explode. That explosion caused $15 million in damage to the launch site. Orbital ATK decided shortly after that accident to replace the AJ26 engines previously used on the Antares with new RD-181 engines from NPO Energomash.

UN Using a Sierra Nevada DreamChaser for First UN Space Mission?

The United Nations plans to purchase a dedicated mission on a Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) Dream Chaser spacecraft in 2021 to give developing nations an opportunity to fly experiments in space.

At a press conference during the International Astronautical Congress here Sept. 27, the United Nations Office of Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) said the agreement to fly the dedicated Dream Chaser mission is part of a broader effort by the office to increase access to space to emerging nations.

“Our project is the first-ever United Nations space mission,” said Simonetta Di Pippo, director of UNOOSA. “The mission has one very important goal: to allow United Nations member states to conduct research that cannot be done on Earth.”

The mission, she said, will be open to all nations, but with a particular emphasis on those nations that don’t have the capabilities to fly their own experiments in space. UNOOSA will soon start the process of soliciting payload proposals, with a goal of selecting payloads by early 2018 so that the winning countries have time to build them for a 2021 launch.

Neither SNC nor UNOOSA disclosed the cost of the mission. Mark Sirangelo, corporate vice president of SNC’s Space Systems division, said that the mission will be financed by several ways, with the countries selected to fly experiments paying at least some of the cost of the flight.

Robopocalypse Report #92


Amazon just patented mini personal drones.

Attachments are made to transform drones into search and rescue tools.

Barbers are safe from a drone led robopocalypse.

Drones are starting to deliver blood in Rwanda.

Drones and VR were used to understand the Plain of Jars.

A drone was wirelessly powered.

FAA is being sued over the drone registry.

Intel now has its own commercial drone, the Falcon 8+.

Medical drones in Africa face challenges.

Mini folding drones!

Modular drones for kids!

The Passport selfie taking drone is ready.

Pegasus is the uber of delivery by drone.

Satellites may not be needed for next generation nav systems.

SenseFly has upgraded its agri drone.

Uber has drones harassing drivers in Mexico.

Verizon is testing drones for use as flying cell towers.

Yamaha's unmanned helicopters can now be used for agricultural purposes.

Self Driving Cars:

Will kids need to actually learn to drive in the future?  Or will it go the way of horseback riding?

Drivers who are aggressive are looking forward to self driving cars hitting the road because they think they will be easier to bully.

The Apple Car, Project Titan, appears to be dead.  However, will other companies want Apple's tech?

BMW is edging closer to self driving cars in its new 5 series.

Britain has its first self driving vehicles acting as taxis in London in a very limited fashion.

The Brits have also demoed self driving connected cars.

Easymile is getting legal permission to driverless buses in San Ramon, California and California is pushing forward with self driving cars in general.

Faraday Future's Formula E racer is interesting.

Google's self driving cars have logged over two million miles.

Iveco put forward their vision for trucking, especially self driving.

Mercedes has stated its self driving cars will save its drivers rather than pedestrians.

Renault-Nissan has started a self driving car division.

Rinspeed's Oasis self driving vehicle is being prepped for CES 2017.

Tesla has been asked to rename the Autopilot software in Germany. 

Germany has also stated Tesla drivers must pay attention.

Tesla will be shipping the self driving tech on all its cars, whether or not they are self driving.

Tesla's Musk is saying negative coverage of self driving vehicles is killing millions.

Tesla has also stated it is against the Ts & Cs of owning a Tesla to send it out to autonomously pick up people for money (aka uber).

A Tesla S just rear-ended a motorcycle while in Autopilot mode.

Toyota is very unhappy with the regulations for self driving cars in California.  In fact, all car makers and Google are stating these regs are nonsense.

Transport Systems Catapult has placed the first self driving cars in London as a trial carrying passengers.

Self driving tricycles?

A self driving uber went the wrong way on a one way street.

Uber is getting big on its autonomous plans.

3d Printing:

Australian architect Gardiner is looking to start a revolution by combining CNC, 3d printing and wax moldings.

Electric 4ekolka is the latest entrant into the 3d printed car race.

3d printed bone is coming!

And 3d printed liver!

Blue Body Labs is offering customized clothing...

Dubai announced plans for 3d printed housing.


The first British robot has been restored.

Chanel's fashion ... robots?

Disney researchers have created a one legged bot.

Say hello to the Ghost Minotaur bot. 

Google dumped a robotic arm project. 

Japanese bots!

Kobi is a new bot for garden work.

Micro bots directed by light?

Nilfisk teamed with CMU to produce a floor scrubbing bot.

A robo sub is being sent to investigate sonar contacts near where MH370 is suspected to have gone down.

A robot put a Cessna through basic maneuvers.

Robotics + CT scanners may be an improvement.

Soft bot tech mimics human muscles.

This surgery robot has haptic feedback.

Sweating robots?

Meet the Thorvald agricultural bot, a British agro bot.

Toyota is selling the Kirobo robot.

Zume pizza has bots to make the pizzas.


A paralyzed individual participated in the cybathalon.

The cybathalon gets profiled.

A 3d printed prosthetic was made for a violin player lacking an arm.

A robotic arm made for a paraplegic man gives him a sense of touch.

A young girl has been testing prosthetic arms.

Software Bots:

60 Minutes 'interviewed' a robot.

Can AI help farmers?

AI is now able to defeat people at Doom completely.

Amazon is hiring a number of people for its Alexa. Alexia is being integrated into Ford Focuses and to make coffee.

Apple has hired its first director of AI research.

Baidu has a voice recognition software that is supposedly more accurate than a QWERTY keyboard.

Has China eclipsed the US in AI research?

The CIA has software bots, it's so-called Syren Servers, to predict uprisings days in advance.

Google is trying to catch up to Amazon's software assistant/home automation.  What will it work with?

Google's assistant uses jokes from Pixar and Onion writers.

Google's neural network AI can now learn from its own memories and can be used to navigate the London Tubes.

IBM Watson is being used to help at hospitals.

Insilico Medicine is using a bot to ID genes associated with longevity.

Machine learning coupled with big data are increasingly impacting our lives.  Potentially in understanding bad drug interactions.

Machine learning is also being used to ID cancer cells.

Microsoft claims its voice recognition software is better than human professionals now.

Saya has crossed the uncanny valley.

Tech giants are in an AI race.

The White House is open sourcing its chat bot.

Your next nurse might be a bot.

Yahoo is open sourcing its machine learning system to classify porn!

Computer Advances:

Can neural network based chips compute more efficiently?


How to build human-robot trust?

Robopocalypse has been mocked by SNL.

The Robopocalypse will make work obsolete and we will need a guaranteed minimum income.

Woz is no longer worried about the Singularity.

Dr Sebastian Thrun loves the robopocalypse.

Dr Stephan Hawking has stated AI will be the best or worst thing to happen to Humanity.

South Korea is investing $450 million in its robotics industry.

The White House has stated the robopocalypse has the potential to greatly increase American wealth, but warns not to let the robopocalypse impoverish the average person. 

The Coming Cyber War #19

Cyber Warfare:

The United States had a cyber attack today with a massive DDOS attack on a key company on the internet causing outages mainly on the East Coast.

Is cyber defense the great space race of our generation?

Destructive cyber attacks are coming.

The IoT Botnet Mirai's software has been released to the public.  DHS is warning about this malware specifically.

Hackers are attacking the US voting systems.

NATO states cyberattacks complicate defense.

Nyotron is bringing a cloud based cyber defense to militaries. 

The US has officially stated Russia is responsible for the hacks on the election system Stateside.  The Russians have responded that's part of the 'anti-Russian hysteria.' sweeping the US.  The hacks, some think, are meant to shake trust in American democracy.  The rhetoric against Russia has been stepped up.  The US government has stated it will doing a proportionate response against Russia.  But how?  Supposedly the CIA (really?  CIA?) is preparing to conduct a cyber attack against Russia.

A warning has been sent out Russian hackers might be attempting to attack the US Presidential election.

The US military needs to get cool to attract cyber experts?  Use a cyber ROTC?  Perhaps.  Or perhaps it needs to pay industry rates...

The British have stated they are actively conducting cyberwarfare operations against Daesh.

Russia, cyber coercion and the classic whodunit.

Cyber Security:

3d printing systems have cyber security issues.

Buzzfeed hacked and had false stories released.

Is cyber security best incentivized by a carrot or a stick?

One election system vendor uses developers in Serbia. 

IAEA has stated at least one nuclear power plant was successfully hacked and had its operations disrupted.

IoT might be really, really bad for the internet.

Johnson & Johnson's insulin pumps are hackable.

MITRE is offering a bounty on rogue IOT devices.

Most businesses do not inspect their cloud services for malware.  And the clouds have lots of it.

Sixgill is moving from defense to detection in software.

Spotify users were hacked through malware carrying ads.

Cyber Espionage: 

Apple watches have been banned from British Cabinet meetings due to hacking fears.

Assange promises more secrets to be revealed about Clinton and Google.  Some more were revealed for the Clinton campaign.  Supposedly, a nation state cut off Assange's internet access.  That nation?  Ecuador!  The host embassy he has asylum with.  Ecuador has stated they did so because Assange was interfering with the US election and not because they were being pressured. 

Gufficer dumped Clinton Foundation data again.

An NSA officer was caught stealing secrets.  He stole apparently tens of terabytes of data.

Trump's email servers are hopelessly hackable.

Yahoo had a regular program of scans of user emails for the NSA and denied it.  (Apple, Google, and Microsoft denied they have a similar programs.)  Yahoo's scans were under a surveillance law that is expiring.  Calls are being made to declassify the program the Yahoo email scans were being done under.  The tool being used apparently was a hacking tool, rather than an email filter.  Verizon wants a $1 billion reduction in the price for purchasing Yahoo due to the lack of disclosure on the email scans.  In fact, Verizon is now saying this is a material breach.  In an odd twist, Yahoo is demanding to know who in the government ordered the monitoring.

A Russian spy ship might have tapped internet cables coming out of Syria.

Cyber Crime:

4Chan hackers are claiming to have wiped a Clinton aide's phone remotely.

A new android malware tries to trick users into taking a picture of themselves holding an ID card.

The Clinton Foundation is warning their donors against phishing.

Apparently, darknet users are strongly against animal trafficking.  

DDOS attacks actually have a changing effect.

Hackers who attacked French TV have still not been found.

Hackers have also hit 6,000 online stores looking for credit card #s over an 18 month period.

Another group of hackers is attacking the SWIFT network.

A huge debit car system breach has affected millions in India and over ten banks.

How hackers got into Podesta and Powell's email accounts.

Malware is not a problem on the Wikileaks site according to Julian Assange.

A Republican Senate Committee website has been hacked.

A Russian hacker has been detained in the Czech Republic for possible extradition to the US.  Russia has strongly criticized the US over the arrest and has named the individual.

The StrongPity malware is infecting users via legitimate software installers.