|Terraform Mars? |
Missing Baryons, Deep Life!
Space War Games! Race Fear!
Hubble, Virtual TV & More!
American Geophysical Union News Release
In fact, a team of researchers suggests that introducing global warming on the Red Planet may be the best approach for warming the planet's frozen landscape and turning it into a habitable world in the future.
In the February issue of Journal of Geophysical Research-Planets, published by the American Geophysical Union, the researchers report on the thermal energy absorption and the potential surface temperature effects from introducing man-made greenhouse gases strong enough to melt the carbon dioxide and ice on Mars.
"Since warming Mars effectively reverts it to its past, more habitable state, this would give any possibly dormant life on Mars the chance to be revived and develop further."
They then created a computer model of the Martian atmosphere and analyzed four such gases, individually and in combination, that are considered the best candidates for the job.
They found that a compound known as octafluoropropane, whose chemical formula is C3F8, produced the greatest warming, while its combination with several similar gases enhanced the warming even further.
They add that the release of increasing amounts of carbon dioxide would lead to further melting and global temperature increases that could then enhance atmospheric pressure and eventually restore a thicker atmosphere to the planet.
The authors conclude that introducing powerful greenhouse gases is the most feasible technique for raising the temperature and increasing the atmospheric pressure on Mars, particularly when compared to other alternatives like sprinkling sunlight-absorbing dust on the poles or placing large mirrors in the planet's orbit.
|eXoNews Pix of the Week Dept.|
|Bush Wants $867 Million for Forest Thinning|
|WASHINGTON February 4, 2005 (Reuters) — The Bush administration will ask Congress to increase funding to $867 million in fiscal year 2006 for a plan to help reduce the risk of wildfires in federal forests, a senior administration official said Thursday. |
The U.S. Agriculture Department's Forest Service division and the Interior Department, which work together to fight forest fires, received $811 million in the current budget year for the forest management plan.
Environmentalists have criticized the program as a way to give logging companies more access to timber under the guise of forest protection.
The proposed increase will be part of the federal budget request that the White House will submit on Monday to Congress, which will spend months debating and modifying the budget. The 2006 fiscal year begins on Oct. 1.
The forest management program, approved by Congress in 2003, aims to cut procedural delays at federal agencies and develop new ways to reduce the threat of wildfires on 10 million acres of fire-prone forest over several years.
Mark Rey, the U.S. Agriculture Department's undersecretary of natural resources, told reporters about $492 million of the requested $867 million in 2006 would be used to remove hazardous underbrush from more than 4 million acres of land. The rest would be spent to improve landscapes and wildlife habitats.
Rey said the program would focus on thinning forests near houses. By the end of fiscal year 2006, more than half of areas treated will be where people live.
This will result in the removal of more wood products -- ranging from biomass to commercial grade lumber -- because prescribed burning programs would be used less often, he said. In 2004, 277,000 acres, or about 5 percent of the 4 million acres treated, had lumber or wood products removed.
Rey and Lynn Scarlett, assistant secretary of the interior, declined to comment on other details of the 2006 budget for their agencies.
|Missing Baryons Discovered!|
Ohio State University News Release
It’s floating in super-hot rivers of gas, invisible to the naked eye, surrounding galaxies like our own.
She and doctoral student Rik Williams did this work with astronomers at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA), the University of California, Berkeley, the Instituto de Astronomia in Mexico, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The lead author on the paper is Fabrizio Nicastro of CfA.
That spectrum isn’t what most people would consider a pretty picture -- it’s really just a graph of energy levels of light that penetrated the gas -- but to Mathur it’s absolutely beautiful, because it proved definitively that there are enough baryons -- “normal” atoms -- out there to account for the missing mass.
Astronomers know that some unseen material provides most of the gravity of the universe, though they disagree on what dark matter is actually made of.
|Cops Find 3.6 Million Stolen Nickels|
|MIAMI February 4, 2005 (AFP) - Miami police found a stash of 3.6 million stolen nickels, buried at a farm south of the city, as they looked for marijuana plants in the area. The coins were stolen from the US Federal Reserve in December. |
Authorities said they had clues about a possible marijuana plantation property south of Miami, and that during their search they found a portable icebox full of five-cent coins. Agents, recalling the robbery late last year, when the coins went missing en route from the Federal Reserve Bank in New Jersey to New Orleans, got out metal detectors.
The hoard of coins was buried, still inside the Federal Reserve sacks they were originally transported in. Agents arrested a man on the property, and also found some marijuana being cultivated. The driver of the truck carrying the coins, Angel Mendoza, a resident of Hialeah near Miami, is the main suspect in the robbery, having gone missing, his whereabouts unknown.
"We are concerned because he's missing ... he became a suspect," Miami-Dade County police officer Randy Grossman told Channel 7 television.
The truck was found abandoned at Fort Pierce, in eastern Florida, five days after going missing after leaving New Jersey.
|Deep Life Found in Deepest Ocean|
By Randolph E. Schmid
These distinct creatures probably represent the remnants of a deep-dwelling group that was able to adapt to the high pressures, the researchers suggest in reporting the find. Their discovery is reported in this week's issue of the journal Science.
|AOL Employee Steals 92 Million Email Addresses|
|By LARRY NEUMEISTER |
Associated Press Writer
NEW YORK February 4, 2005 (AP) - A 24-year-old former American Online software engineer pleaded guilty Friday to stealing 92 million screen names and e-mail addresses and selling them to spammers, setting off an avalanche of up to seven billion unsolicited e-mails.
The soft-spoken Jason Smathers of Harpers Ferry, W. Va., entered the plea to conspiracy charges in U.S. District Court in Manhattan, where he was likely to face from 18 months to two years in prison at a May 20 sentencing.
Smathers also faces mandatory restitution of between $200,000 and $400,000, the amount the government estimates AOL spent as a result of the e-mails.
In December, Judge Alvin Hellerstein had rejected a similar plea by Smathers, saying he was not convinced he had actually committed a crime. But the judge said prosecutors now had sufficiently explained why he had.
Smathers told the judge that he accepted $28,000 from someone who wanted to pitch an offshore gambling site to AOL customers, knowing that the list of screen names might make its way to others who would send e-mail solicitations.
"Do you wish to accept responsibility for what you did?" the judge asked Smathers.
"Yes sir, I do," he answered.
Federal prosecutor David Siegal said Smathers had engaged in the interstate transportation of stolen property and had violated a new federal "can-spam" law meant to diminish unsolicited e-mail messages about everything from Viagra to mortgages.
In December, the judge said he had dropped his own AOL membership because he received too much spam.
The company has since launched a major assault on spam, significantly reducing unsolicited e-mails. America Online Inc. is a wholly owned subsidiary of Time Warner Inc.
Smathers was fired by AOL last June. Authorities said he used another employee's access code to steal the list of AOL customers in 2003 from its headquarters in Dulles, Va.
Smathers allegedly sold the list to Sean Dunaway, of Las Vegas, who used it to send unwanted gambling advertisements to subscribers of AOL, the world's largest Internet provider. Charges are pending against Dunaway.
The stolen list of 92 million AOL addresses included multiple addresses used by each of AOL's estimated 30 million customers. It is believed to be still circulating among spammers.
|Space War Games|
By Andrea Shalal-Esa
He conceded the game assumed completion of several Air Force space systems still under development, including Space-Based Radar and Transformational Satellite Communications System. Congress cut the budgets of both last year.
"There is somewhat of a leap of faith," he said.
For the first time, the game will also include "near space" aircraft operating above 65,000 feet but below an outer space orbit, which the Air Force sees as a promising new area for intelligence gathering and surveillance.
|Love Cookies Bad|
|DURANGO CO February 4, 2005 (Reuters) - A Colorado judge ordered two teen-age girls to pay about $900 for the distress a neighbor said they caused by giving her home-made cookies adorned with paper hearts. |
The pair were ordered to pay $871.70 plus $39 in court costs after neighbor Wanita Renea Young, 49, filed a lawsuit complaining that the unsolicited cookies, left at her house after the girls knocked on her door, had triggered an anxiety attack that sent her to the hospital the next day.
Taylor Ostergaard, then 17, and Lindsey Jo Zellitte, 18, paid the judgment on Thursday after a small claims court ruling by La Plata County Court Judge Doug Walker, a court clerk said on Friday.
The girls baked cookies as a surprise for several of their rural Colorado neighbors on July 31 and dropped off small batches on their porches, accompanied by red or pink paper hearts and the message: "Have a great night."
The Denver Post newspaper reported on Friday that the girls had decided to stay home and bake the cookies rather than go to a dance where there might be cursing and drinking. It reported that six neighbors wrote letters entered as evidence in the case thanking the girls for the cookies.
But Young said she was frightened because the two had knocked on her door at about 10:30 p.m. and run off after leaving the cookies. She went to a hospital emergency room the next day, fearing that she had suffered a heart attack, court records said.
The judge awarded Young her medical costs, but did not award punitive damages. He said he did not think the girls had acted maliciously but that 10:30 was fairly late at night for them to be out.
American Psychological Society News Release
|EPA Favored Electric Industry|
|By John Heilprin |
WASHINGTON February 4, 2005 (AP) — The Bush administration overlooked health effects and sided with the electric industry in developing rules for cutting toxic mercury pollution, the Environmental Protection Agency's inspector general said Thursday.
The agency fell short of its own requirements and presidential orders by "not fully analyzing the cost-benefit of regulatory alternatives and not fully assessing the rule's impact on children's health," the agency's internal watchdog said in a 54-page report.
Nikki L. Tinsley's report said the EPA based its mercury pollution limits on an analysis submitted by Western Energy Supply and Transmission Associates, a research and advocacy group representing 17 coal-fired utilities in eight Western states.
The Clean Air Act requires the EPA to set the limits based on the most advanced pollution controls used by industry. Tinsley said agency workers were instructed by "EPA senior management" to develop a standard compared with other regulations and a White House legislative plan, "instead of basing the standard on an unbiased determination" of the limits.
In response to the report, EPA officials said it was "not true" that the administration proposed mercury pollution standards without following requirements of the law.
Mercury from power plants settles in waterways and accumulates in fish. The toxic metal can cause neurological and developmental problems, particularly in fetuses and young children. It also is being studied for risks associated with cardiovascular diseases.
Sen. Jim Jeffords and six Democratic senators asked Tinsley in April to investigate how the EPA put together the mercury rule it proposed in December 2003.
"Unfortunately, this report confirms that the administration's proposal to regulate mercury compromises children's health for the benefit of corporate profits," said Jeffords, an independent from Vermont.
The Food and Drug Administration has warned that high levels of mercury in some fish, including albacore tuna, can pose a hazard for children and for women pregnant or nursing.
The EPA estimates that about 8 percent of American women of childbearing age have enough mercury in their blood to put a fetus at risk.
EPA spokeswoman Cynthia Bergman said the rule's purpose is to protect children and women of child-bearing ages, adding that a final decision on it hasn't been made and that more analyses are being done.
She said EPA does not want its regulation to encourage utilities to switch from coal to natural gas, and pointed out that Tinsley's report noted the "wide latitude" the agency has in deciding which pollution to use.
"The proposed rule would take us from no regulation to a mandatory 70 percent cut," Bergman said. "The report improperly characterizes the process, which has been inclusive."
The pending regulation envisions a 70 percent cut in mercury emissions from coal-burning power plants by 2018, from the current 48 tons a year to 15 tons.
The EPA is expected to issue the rule by March 15 to comply with a court-approved agreement with the Natural Resources Defense Council, an environmental group. The council agreed to that date to give the agency more time to do analysis and collect more public comments; so far, more than 500,000 have been submitted, mostly form letters.
Bergman and other EPA officials said Tinsley's report fails to consider that mercury pollution is a global problem and that most Americans are exposed to it by eating fish imported from abroad.
The environmental group sued EPA in 1992 to force the agency to regulate hazardous air pollutants from power plants. The Clinton administration in late 2000 directed EPA to regulate mercury as a toxic, hazardous substance and require "maximum achievable control technology" at hundreds of coal-fired power plants.
Since the late 1990s, the EPA had regulated mercury dumped in water and air from municipal waste and medical waste incinerators, but not from power plants.
Utilities could meet the EPA's target by switching to cleaner-burning coal or natural gas, or installing equipment to cut smog and acid rain.
The agency's favored approach is an industry-supported program that would let plants sell unused pollution rights to companies that overshoot their allowances. Under a pollution-trading system, plants unable to meet the required reductions could buy emission allowances from other plants that have exceeded the required cuts.
By Deborah Zabarenko
|Macbeth Not Guilty?|
By James Kilner
Mostly inaccurate, says Johnstone, who has tabled a motion in parliament commemorating the 1,000th anniversary of the birth of Macbeth, who reigned between 1040 and 1057. He says Shakespeare wrote the play to appeal to the superstitious Scottish king James VI, who had just succeeded to the English throne.
Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council Press Release
It can also be applied at the consumer level, e.g. to enable interior design ideas to be visualized by adding virtual furniture to the view of a room provided by a hand-held camera as it moves.
[Great! Possible at last! Soon we will have real-time fake news! Wait! Don't we already have that? Ed.]
|Genre News: What Are Ratings Sweeps? JAG, Enterprise, Casino Royale, Brian Wilson & More!|
|What Are Ratings Sweeps? |
February 6, 2005 (eXoNews) - So what the hell is this February Sweeps thing that TV fans keep hearing about? Here's my definition, stolen from reliable sources:
Hey, you say. That's a lot of people! Well, yes and no.
On the positive side, the WB and UPN are smaller broadcast networks with fewer viewers overall than ABC, NBC, CBS and Fox, so 4,664,000 households might be considered a good share for a Wednesday. 7th Heaven, the WB's highest rated show got a typical 6.0/9 rating last week.
On the positive side, Smallville is up against the Fox mega-stupid hit American Idol this time of year. American Idol scored 17.9/26 at 8PM on the same night. ABC's big hit Lost now blasts Clark Kent at 8PM on Wednesdays as well, but Lost was a rerun last week so it came in second with 7.5/11 in the overnights. 60 Minutes came in third on CBS with 5.2/8.
On Sunday, Crossing Jordan brought in a 9.3/13, making her number two against a movie on CBS. This is low for Jordan, who usually beats out Boston Legal in her 10PM slot but Boston Legal wasn't on last Sunday. Jordan may have to work harder to earn another season as Denny Crane now has Candice Bergen to play with.
Viewers concerned about the Tuesday Fox show House (AKA House, MD) can rest easy. House was number one last week at 9PM with a 9.2/13 and a 5.2/13 among adults 18-49.
For those who haven't seen it, House is a hospital drama with a twist. Each week Dr. House (hence the series name - clever, eh?) and his group of demographically balanced young interns solve a baffling medical mystery. Sounds silly, but the cast is excellent and it works.
Now that House has found its audience, I would diagnose a probable new season pickup.
Darkness doesn't really work without humor. Reference almost any Alfred Hitchcock movie if you don't believe me. Marti Noxon must know this from Buffy and Angel. I can only suppose that Evil Network Executives have screwed up Point Pleasant.
Former Northern Exposure star Rob Morrow has delivered a genuine hit for CBS on the level of ABC's Lost and Desperate Housewives.
Stargate SG-1 had 2.5 million viewers at 8PM last Friday, Atlantis had 1.9 million at 9PM and Battlestar exploded with 3.0 million viewers at 10PM. Compare this with the performance of former Sci Fi Channel flagship Farscape, which barely drew 1 million viewers during its series run.
LOS ANGELES January 5, 2005 (Hollywood Reporter) - "JAG" star David James Elliott will leave the CBS military courtroom drama at the end of the season, and will develop projects at ABC.
LOS ANGELES Wednesday February 2, 2005 (AP) - After four years, the mission is over for "Star Trek: Enterprise." The prequel to the original "Star Trek" science fiction series will air its final episode May 13, UPN and Paramount Network Television announced Wednesday.
Hollywood February 4, 2005 (Sci Fi Wire) - Rick Berman, executive producer of UPN's just-canceled Star Trek: Enterprise, told SCI FI Wire that Paramount is not shopping the series to another network in the hope that it will remain on the air past its anticipated May 13 series finale on UPN.
LOS ANGELES February 3, 2005 (Hollywood Reporter) - The hunt is on for primetime's next big fantasy/sci-fi franchise.
The success ABC has had with its spooky thriller "Lost" has helped whet the appetite among network buyers for genre-based shows, insiders say.
"There isn't a lot of science fiction on TV right now, and people are trying to capitalize on that."
NBC's "Fathom" aims to pick up the torch from James Cameron's 1989 feature "The Abyss" in exploring the mysterious creatures of the deep sea.
LOS ANGELES February 4, 2005 (Reuters) - The search is on for a young actor to fill the tuxedo of Agent 007 in the next James Bond film, "Casino Royale," to be based on Ian Fleming's first novel about the suave British spy with a license to kill.
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc. said on Friday that filmmaker Martin Campbell has signed on to direct the 21st Bond movie, paving the way for casting to succeed Pierce Brosnan, 51, as the star of the multibillion-dollar film franchise.
Pierce Brosnan Official - http://www.piercebrosnan.com
NEW YORK February 5, 2005 (Billboard) - It's been a stunning year for Brian Wilson.
Two nights before that, he will be feted as industry charity MusiCares' person of the year at the Palladium in Hollywood.
"SMiLE" was scrapped in 1967 as Wilson neared a mental breakdown. Drugs, pressure from the other Beach Boys -- especially his cousin Mike Love -- and Wilson's weak mental state doomed the project. Though the album was shelved, a few original "SMiLE" tracks -- "Wonderful," "Heroes and Villains" and "Surf's Up" -- found their way onto subsequent Beach Boys releases.
"I found the spirit," Wilson says. "(Melinda) inspired me. She gave me a solo career. It was her idea. I owe my life to her."
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