Astrobiology Survives on Passionate Hope

first_imgWithout the words ‘might’ and ‘could,’ astrobiologists would have nothing to say.Two decades since astrobiology became a ‘science,’ there is still no evidence for life beyond earth. That doesn’t discourage the true believers. With olympic fervor, they reach a perfect score—zero—for actual evidence supporting their belief.Oceans on Jupiter? Gas Giants Might Start Out As ‘Steam Worlds’ (Space.com). Jupiter might have been a steamy water world before it became a gas giant. It might have lasted long enough to be habitable. And if it were habitable, life could have evolved there. That’s a summary of this article by Jesse Emspak, contributing author to Space.com. Imagine anyone else proposing such face-free ideas and calling it science. But since John Chambers has a job as a scientist at the Carnegie Institution, he gets permission from Emspak to speculate freely and propagate his myths on this popular science news site.Water worlds could support life: Analysis challenges idea that life requires ‘Earth clone’ (Phys.org). Because Earth’s many life-friendly features form such an improbable combination, astrobiologists are motivated to expand the boundaries of habitability. This article does not rely on actual evidence. It relies on computer models, programmed by believers in astrobiology. Such models can be considered as reliable as those programmed by believers in astrology.The conditions for life surviving on planets entirely covered in water are more fluid than previously thought, opening up the possibility that water worlds could be habitable, according to a new paper from the University of Chicago and Pennsylvania State University.The scientific community has largely assumed that planets covered in a deep ocean would not support the cycling of minerals and gases that keeps the climate stable on Earth, and thus wouldn’t be friendly to life. But the study, published Aug. 30 in The Astrophysical Journal, found that ocean planets could stay in the “sweet spot” for habitability much longer than previously assumed. The authors based their findings on more than a thousand simulations.Did you previously think that? Did you previously assume that? Beware lest the bio-astrologers snare you in their tontological net.Carl Sagan standing by Viking model.Life on Mars? 40 Years Later, Viking Lander Scientist Still Says ‘Yes’ (Space.com). Background: in 1976, two NASA craft landed on Mars in two different places and ran 3 carefully-designed experiments to specifically search for life. Two of the three experiments gave negative results, but one, the ‘labeled-release experiment’ (LRE) was inconclusive. Most scientists concluded that abiological chemistry could explain the ‘fizzy’ results. The subsequent discovery of ubiquitous perchlorates supported the abiological interpretation. This highly optimistic article, though, squeezes the ambiguous result for all it’s worth, using the principal investigator of the LRE, Gilbert Levin, as principal cheerleader. He makes it seem that subsequent evidence for water under the ice caps of the red planet justifies his belief that Viking found life in the Martian soil. Like a modern-day P.T. Barnum, he touts his greatest show on Mars, with fingers drumming for NASA funds.Go to Sea with Astrobiologists Visiting Hawaii to Learn How to Look for Alien Life (Space.com). Astrobiologists are setting out to search for extraterrestrial life—in Hawaii! NASA is paying their way to use techniques that might come in handy some day for evaluating claims of life on other planets. Sounds like a fun job if you can get it. Amy Smith gets to study a seamount in the Pacific.She’s particularly interested in finding out whether any critters can use hydrogen as a source of energy, since that molecule can be found below the ice of Enceladus. In addition to studying microbes at the site, she’ll also take samples for genetic testing and gather specimens to try to grow in her lab. “Since this environment is similar to what we might find, we predict, on other ocean worlds, we’re hoping to get some answers as to what kinds of life might be there,” Smith said.Other scientists get to participate remotely with ‘telepresence’ to watch the fun. Your tax dollars at work, making it seem like astrobiology is real science, even if there is no evidence for it.Small Doses of RealityOmega Centauri Is a Terrible Place to Look for Habitable Planets (Space.com). Cross off globular clusters as pleasant nurseries for life, Nola Taylor Redd says. A big one, Omega Centauri, “probably doesn’t contain many habitable worlds, a new study suggests.” The problem? Neighboring stars would steal the water. This letdown applies to other similar clusters.Previous studies had suggested that a globular cluster might be the first place where intelligent life is identified in the galaxy. That’s because the roughly 150 clusters around the Milky Way are about 10 billion years old, with stars roughly the same age, giving life plenty of time to emerge and evolve.Unfortunately, the large but cozy environment of Omega Centauri works against hopes for habitability. Even compact planetary systems would struggle to exist in the core of the cluster, where stars lie an average of 0.16 light-years apart, the new study suggests.When the world is not enough: how to find another planet to live on  (The Conversation). Eamonn Kerins at the University of Manchester, an astrophysicist, tries to remain optimistic about space travel by humans to other planets, but he knows better than to upset facts. After relating the history of discovering exoplanets, and the prospects for better detection, he hits the brakes a little:There are of course many other factors beyond bulk planet characteristics that contribute critically to the success of evolved life here on Earth. The truth is that our descendents [sic] won’t know for sure that they’ve found Earth-2 until they try living on it. So, while we would not hand an empty map to our brave space explorers of the future, we are a long way from being able to guarantee them habitable accommodation.And, lets [sic] be clear, the long journey time even to our nearest exoplanet neighbour, Proxima b, means that it is definitely a one-way ticket. Indeed, with current technology, this journey would take tens of thousands of years.Then he remembers some other challenges for the poor wayfaring earthlings:During their voyage the astronauts also have to shield themselves from potentially fatal doses of cosmic rays. They must also avoid muscular and skeletal wasting, and cope with the psychological demands of being locked up for years in a large tin can. At their destination, they will also have to adjust to life as an alien without the advantages of evolutionary adaption [sic] that we enjoy on Earth. This is probably the greatest challenge of all.Oh well, it was fun to be optimistic for a few paragraphs. Should humans expect to colonize space? “All things considered,” he ends, “it’s one long journey for a man, one giant roll of the dice for mankind.”If Darwin skeptics ever presented theories this fact-free, their words would be mocked, trashed, and rejected. Oh wait; they are anyway, facts notwithstanding.(Visited 316 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

Para-canoeist Stu Hogg leads the way

first_img“Straight away, when I went to rehab, what kept me going was the thought of paddling again. They were telling me that I might not walk again. My mental drive was to try and get back in a boat, and to walk out of the hospital.” Feeling normal “The paddling guys have been a big help to me. Everyone has been really nice.” South Africa had just one participant at the first ever ICF Para-Canoe World Championships in Duisberg, Germany in August. Stu Hogg is taking the country’s rich paddling tradition in a new direction. 4 October 2013 ‘A big disadvantage’ “Luckily, the guy who operated on me, one of the top neuro-surgeons, was available that next morning,” Hogg, now 24, told SAinfo during an interview this week. “He and another neuro-surgeon did the operation, and apparently it was quite a thing because they had to operate through the front and the back of my neck. They had to put a cage-like device into my neck to fuse the vertebrae. Looking back on his experiences at the first ICF Para-canoe World Championships, Hogg said: “This year it was very hard to compete because they put me in a very difficult class. I was racing with guys who had, for example, a problem with a leg, and it’s very hard for me to have half my body – an arm, my trunk and leg issues – to compete with someone missing a foot, especially because of a lot of spasticity in the nerve function. It’s a big disadvantage. Someone with a leg problem has an upper body that is still 100 percent. The reward for Hogg’s hard work has been wonderful, he said. “Now, being able to compete, once I am on the water and training I don’t really feel disabled anymore. I feel like part of the paddling community again, regardless of my disability. I feel like a normal paddler now. “My results this year weren’t great, but all I wanted this year was to get in the system. They have spoken about changing my class. I’ll know about that next year.” Vertebrae fused Hogg had won national colours as a junior, but wearing them again appeared to be a distant memory because para-canoeing did not exist when he suffered his injury. And it took some time before he was able to take to the water again.center_img “That feeling helps me with the rest of my life because if I feel normal on the water I can feel a bit more normal when I am not on the water. In Duisberg, Hogg was back in the green-and-gold, and after all the effort it had taken to once again represent South Africa he truly appreciated the experience. “I had really missed that feeling [of sporting the national colours]. It was special,” he said. “I am a lot slower than I used to be, but other than that everyone treats me the same as they did before the accident. I would rather be treated how they treated me before than have people trying to make special arrangements for me. They help out, but make me feel that I’m just one of the guys again.” “Then I found out about para-canoeing. It was a new sport, so I thought I might as well give that a bash, so last year I started training – just very basic, getting into a boat, but I was very weak. It took me a long time to just being able to paddle.” “In the long term, I am hoping that they change the whole classification system by putting in more classes for guys with different disabilities, just to try and even the competition out,” he said. “It took me a good three years to get walking. I could walk within a couple of months, but not comfortably. It took me a while to get walking properly and comfortable with myself,” he explained. Five years ago, while studying in Durban, Hogg was asleep as a passenger in a car when it was involved in an accident. He was thrown out of the back window of the vehicle, suffering a broken neck, broken ribs, fractured vertebrae in his lower back and a head injury. He was in a deep coma for a short while. He has since undergone two operations on his neck. Competing in the K1 200 metres LTA (legs, trunk, arms), he finished eighth in his heat and missed the semi-finals by one place. Walking “This year was a start. I know where I stand, what I’ve got to work on. For now I’m going to work to get as fast as I can be. If they change the classes, that’s a bonus. If not, I am just going to have to work harder.”last_img read more

Bafana at Afcon 2015: the full squad

first_imgThe new 2015 Africa Cup of Nations Bafana Bafana team before their warm-up game against Cameroon on Saturday 10 January, which came to a one-all draw. (Image: Bafana Bafana) Compiled by Mary AlexanderWith Bafana Bafana, South Africa’s national football team, set to kick off their first match in the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations on Monday 19 January, playing Algeria at the Estadio de Mongomo in Equatorial Guinea, we bring you facts and figures about the full 23-man squad.Jump to:StrikersMidfieldersDefendersGoalkeepersStrikersBernard ParkerBorn: 16 March 1986, BoksburgAge: 28Height: 1.7 metresCareer start: 2004Current club: Kaizer Chiefs FC – #25, forwardCurrent league: Premier Soccer League, South AfricaTokelo RantieBorn: 8 September 1990, Parys, Free StateAge: 24Height: 1.72 metresCareer start: 2010Current club: AFC Bournemouth – #28, forwardCurrent league: English Championship LeagueBongani NdululaBorn: 29 November 1989, Aliwal NorthAge: 25Height: 1.9 metresCareer start: 2009Current club: AmaZulu FC – #9, forwardCurrent league: Premier Soccer League, South AfricaSibusiso VilakaziBorn: 29 December 1989, SowetoAge: 25Height: 1.7 metresCareer start: 2009Current club: Bidvest Wits FC – #10, midfielderCurrent league: Premier Soccer League, South AfricaNew Bafana Bafana coach Shakes Mashaba has been credited with bringing the national squad back to form, allowing them to qualify for the 2015 African Cup of Nations and beating out Nigeria, the previous champions. (Image: Bafana Bafana)Back to topMidfieldersThemba ZwaneBorn: 3 August 1989, TembisaAge: 25Height: 1.7 metresCareer start: 2011Current club: Mamelodi Sundowns FC – #34, midfielderCurrent league: Premier Soccer League, South AfricaAndile JaliBorn: 10 April 1990, Matatiele, Eastern CapeAge: 24Height: 1.72 metresCareer start: 2007Current club: KV Oostende – #15, midfielderCurrent league: Belgian Pro LeagueReneilwe LetsholonyaneBorn: 9 June 1982, SowetoAge: 32Height: 1.73 metresCareer start: 2002Current club: Kaizer Chiefs FC – #6, midfielderCurrent league: Premier Soccer League, South AfricaBongani ZunguBorn: 9 October 1992, Duduza, GautengAge: 22Height: 1.84 metresCareer start: 2010Current club: Mamelodi Sundowns FC – #34, midfielderCurrent league: Premier Soccer League, South AfricaThamsanqa SangweniBorn: 26 May 1989, Empangeni, KwaZulu-NatalAge: 25Height: 1.7 metresCareer start: 2009Current club: Ajax Cape Town FC – #37, midfielderCurrent league: Premier Soccer League, South AfricaDean FurmanBorn: 22 June 1988, Cape TownAge: 26Height: 1.83 metresCareer start: 2008Current club: Doncaster Rovers FC – #4, midfielderCurrent league: English League OneThuso PhalaBorn: 27 May 1986, SowetoAge: 28Height: 1.7 metresCareer start: 2007Current club: SuperSport United FC – #21, midfielderCurrent league: Premier Soccer League, South AfricaMandla MasangoBorn: 18 July 1989, Kwaggafontein, MpumalangaAge: 25Height: 1.68 metresCareer star: 2007Current club: Kaizer Chiefs FC – #22, midfielderCurrent league: Premier Soccer League, South AfricaOupa ManyisaBorn: 30 July 1988, Mohlakeng, GautengAge: 26Height: 1.65 metresCareer start: 2008Current club: Orlando Pirates FC – #20, midfielderCurrent league: Premier Soccer League, South AfricaWatch Bafana Bafana’s road to the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations:Back to topDefendersSiyabonga NhlapoBorn: 23 December 1988, SowetoAge: 26Height: 1.8 metresCareer start: 2010Current club: Bidvest Wits FC – #20, midfielderCurrent league: Premier Soccer League, South AfricaPatrick PhungwayoBorn: 6 January 1988, Alexandra, GautengAge: 27Height: 1.73 metresCareer start: 2008Current club: Orlando Pirates FC – #3, left-backCurrent league: Premier Soccer League, South AfricaAnele NgcongcaBorn: 21 October, 1987, Cape TownAge: 27Height: 1.8 metresCareer start: 2003Current club: KRC Genk – #16, defenderCurrent league: Belgian Pro LeagueThulani HlatshwayoBorn: 18 December 1989, SowetoAge: 25Height: 1.89 metresCareer start: 2009Current club: Ajax Cape Town FC – #3, defenderCurrent league: Premier Soccer League, South AfricaEric MathohoBorn: 1 March 1990, Thohoyandou, LimpopoAge: 24Height: 1.98 metresCareer start: 2009Current club: Kaizer Chiefs FC – #3, defenderCurrent league: Premier Soccer League, South AfricaRivaldo CoetzeeBorn: 16 October 1996, Kakamas, Northern CapeAge: 18Height: 1.79 metresCareer start: 2014Current club: Ajax Cape Town FC – #3, defenderCurrent league: Premier Soccer League, South AfricaThabo MatlabaBorn: 13 December 1987, Tembisa, GautengAge: 27Height: 1.69 metresCareer start: 2010Current club: Orlando Pirates FC – #8, defenderCurrent league: Premier Soccer League, South AfricaBack to topGoalkeepersDarren KeetBorn: 5 August 1989, Cape TownAge: 25Height: 1.83 metresCareer start: 2007Current club: KV Kortrijk – #16, goalkeeperCurrent league: Belgian Pro LeagueJackson MabokgwaneBorn: 19 January 1988, Polokwane, LimpopoAge: 26Height: 1.88 metresCareer start: 2007Current club: Bidvest Wits FC – #1, goalkeeperCurrent league: Premier Soccer League, South AfricaBrilliant KhuzwayoBorn: 9 February 1990, DurbanAge: 24Height: 1.9 metresCareer start: 2010Current club: Kaizer Chiefs FC – #16, goalkeeperCurrent league: Premier Soccer League, South AfricaBack to toplast_img read more

Google Docs Gets An Android App (With Optical Character Recognition)

first_imgWhy IoT Apps are Eating Device Interfaces Role of Mobile App Analytics In-App Engagement audrey watters It makes sense that the Google suite of products would have a nicer version on Android than on iPhone, right? The newly released Google Docs app for Android is certainly a testament to that.Google added the ability to edit your Google Docs on your mobile devices last fall, a huge boon for those of us who tend to work on the go and who need to be able to access, edit, and share our work via our phones. But the mobile Web interface has still felt a little clunky, and a good reminder that really smartphones aren’t designed for word processing.The new Google Docs app, now available for Android, makes the process a lot less painful (well, minus the fact that you’re still working on with a small screen and keyboard, of course). While composition of new documents or spreadsheets may still be challenging, the app makes it very easy for you to share items with others and open files that you receive via Gmail. It’s also incredibly simple to upload documents to Google Docs via your phone. This isn’t simply a matter of uploading files (although that is an option). The new app is also integrated with the Android camera so if you snap a picture of a document, the app will translate it into text via OCR, using the new “Document from Photo” option. Of course, OCR isn’t always completely accurate, but it’s still a great way to easily input information into your Google Docs account. Tags:#Google#mobile#web Related Posts Note that there’s still no support for offline editing. And when you first load the app, it will take a while to sync your accounts. But once it does so, you’ll find you have access to all the files you store there. The app is available now via the Android Market. What it Takes to Build a Highly Secure FinTech … The Rise and Rise of Mobile Payment Technologylast_img read more

NGT criticises Ministry on Chardham highway project

first_imgThe National Green Tribunal (NGT) on Wednesday rapped the Ministry of Road, Transport and Highways (MoRTH) for not submitting a plan on the disposal of muck from the construction site of the Chardham highway project in Uttarakhand.A Bench headed by NGT acting chairperson Jawad Rahim gave the authorities time till April 19 to comply with the previous orders and file the action plan.Noting that the Ministry had failed to submit a plan despite the tribunal not passing any interim order, the green bench said: “Even muck dumping plan which we had directed to file has not been filed or produced today. This can hardly be appreciated. Be that as it may, we restrain ourselves from imposing cost but we make it clear that no further adjournment would be granted in the case.”The green panel further said that its previous orders would be continued till any other order is passed.Earlier, on March 21, the NGT had said: “Material placed by the project proponent (MoRTH) shows that the project activity has commenced somewhere in the year 2015, therefore we do not intend to pass any interim order but till further hearing of the issues, the project proponent should restrain from felling of trees.”NGO for stay on projectThe directions came while the tribunal was hearing a plea filed by Citizens of Green Doon, a Dehradun based NGO that had sought a stay on the road widening project. The petitioners had further claimed that the construction work was being carried out in violation of environmental laws.last_img read more