(Expressing Contemporary Dates as Stardates)
Powerful Solar Storm Could Shut Down U.S. for Months
A new study from the National Academy of Sciences outlines grim possibilities on Earth for a worst-case scenario solar storm.
Damage to power grids and other communications systems could be catastrophic, the scientists conclude, with effects leading to a potential loss of governmental control of the situation.
The prediction is based in part on a major solar storm in 1859 that caused telegraph wires to short out in the United States and Europe, igniting widespread fires.
It was perhaps the worst in the past 200 years, according to the new study, and with the advent of modern power grids and satellites, much more is at risk.
"A contemporary repetition of the  event would cause significantly more extensive (and possibly catastrophic) social and economic disruptions," the researchers conclude.
When the sun is in the active phase of its 11-year cycle, it can unleash powerful magnetic storms that disable satellites, threaten astronaut safety, and even disrupt communication systems on Earth.
The worst storms can knock out power grids by inducing currents that melt transformers.
Modern power grids are so interconnected that a big space storm — the type expected to occur about once a century — could cause a cascade of failures that would sweep across the United States, cutting power to 130 million people or more in this country alone, the new report concludes.
Such widespread power outages, though expected to be a rare possibility, would affect other vital systems.
U.N. Urged to Take Action Against Killer Asteroids
VIENNA, Austria — It is disaster planning on a galactic scale: Space experts want to come up with a contingency plan on what to do in case a killer asteroid collides with Earth.
The experts, including former American astronaut Rusty Schweickart, told U.N. officials Tuesday that the international community needs a plan to counter so-called Near Earth Objects in advance of the potential catastrophe.
Deflecting asteroids — or at least evacuating people in areas where they might strike — could save millions of lives.
"This is a natural disaster, which is larger, potentially, than any other natural disaster we know of," Schweickart said. "However, it is preventable ... that's a very important thing to keep in mind. But it is our responsibility to take action to do that."
Asteroids are small planetary bodies that revolve around the sun, according to the NASA Web site, which states that many scientists believe an asteroid collided with Earth about 65 million years ago, helping cause environmental changes that led to the extinction of the dinosaurs.
Schweickart, a former Apollo 9 crew member, spoke at a news conference after briefing U.N. officials on a recent report called "Asteroid Threats: A Call for Global Response."
Mystery Roar Detected From Faraway Space
LONG BEACH, Calif. — Space is typically thought of as a very quiet place. But one team of astronomers has found a strange cosmic noise that booms six times louder than expected.
The roar is from the distant cosmos. Nobody knows what causes it.
Of course, sound waves can't travel in a vacuum (which is what most of space is), or at least they can't very efficiently. But radio waves can.
• Click here to visit FOXNews.com's Space Center.
Radio waves are not sound waves, but they are still electromagnetic waves, situated on the low-frequency end of the light spectrum.
Many objects in the universe, including stars and quasars, emit radio waves. Even our home galaxy, the Milky Way, emits a static hiss (first detected in 1931 by physicist Karl Jansky). Other galaxies also send out a background radio hiss.
But the newly detected signal, described here today at the 213th meeting of the American Astronomical Society, is far louder than astronomers expected.
There is "something new and interesting going on in the universe," said Alan Kogut of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.
A team led by Kogut detected the signal with a balloon-borne instrument named ARCADE (Absolute Radiometer for Cosmology, Astrophysics, and Diffuse Emission).
In July 2006, the instrument was launched from NASA's Columbia Scientific Balloon Facility in Palestine, Texas, and reached an altitude of about 120,000 feet (36,500 meters), where the atmosphere thins into the vacuum of space.
ARCADE's mission was to search the sky for faint signs of heat from the first generation of stars, but instead they heard a roar from the distant reaches of the universe.
"The universe really threw us a curve," Kogut said. "Instead of the faint signal we hoped to find, here was this booming noise six times louder than anyone had predicted."
Detailed analysis of the signal ruled out primordial stars or any known radio sources, including gas in the outermost halo of our own galaxy.
Other radio galaxies also can't account for the noise — there just aren't enough of them.
"You'd have to pack them into the universe like sardines," said study team member Dale Fixsen of the University of Maryland. "There wouldn't be any space left between one galaxy and the next."
The signal is measured to be six times brighter than the combined emission of all known radio sources in the universe.
What if the mystery roar is God, and he is pissed?
Look for shit to start happening...
now where did I put that tinfoil...
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