Wednesday, May 16, 2012

CELESTIAL CONVERGENCE: Nibiru & Planet X Memes - New Planet Found in Our Solar System, Odd Orbits of Remote Objects Hint at Unseen World?!

An as yet undiscovered planet might be orbiting at the dark fringes of the solar system, according to new research. Too far out to be easily spotted by telescopes, the potential unseen planet appears to be making its presence felt by disturbing the orbits of so-called Kuiper belt objects, said Rodney Gomes, an astronomer at the National Observatory of Brazil in Rio de Janeiro.

Artist's conception of a small icy object beyond Pluto (file picture).
Kuiper belt objects are small icy bodies—including some dwarf planets—that lie beyond the orbit of Neptune. Once considered the ninth planet in our system, the dwarf planet Pluto, for example, is one of the largest Kuiper belt objects, at about 1,400 miles (2,300 kilometers) wide. Dozens of the other objects are hundreds of miles across, and more are being discovered every year. What's intriguing, Gomes said, is that, according to his new calculations, about a half dozen Kuiper belt objects—including the remote body known as Sedna—are in strange orbits compared to where they should be, based on existing solar system models.  The objects' unexpected orbits have a few possible explanations, said Gomes, who presented his findings Tuesday at a meeting of the American Astronomical Society in Timberline Lodge, Oregon. "But I think the easiest one is a planetary-mass solar companion"—a planet that orbits very far out from the sun but that's massive enough to be having gravitational effects on Kuiper belt objects.
Mystery Planet a Captured Rogue?
For the new work, Gomes analyzed the orbits of 92 Kuiper belt objects, then compared his results to computer models of how the bodies should be distributed, with and without an additional planet. If there's no distant world, Gomes concludes, the models don't produce the highly elongated orbits we see for six of the objects. How big exactly the planetary body might be isn't clear, but there are a lot of possibilities, Gomes added. Based on his calculations, Gomes thinks a Neptune-size world, about four times bigger than Earth, orbiting 140 billion miles (225 billion kilometers) away from the sun—about 1,500 times farther than Earth—would do the trick. But so would a Mars-size object—roughly half Earth's size—in a highly elongated orbit that would occasionally bring the body sweeping to within 5 billion miles (8 billion kilometers) of the sun. Gomes speculates that the mystery object could be a rogue planet that was kicked out of its own star system and later captured by the sun's gravity. Or the putative planet could have formed closer to our sun, only to be cast outward by gravitational encounters with other planets. However, actually finding such a world would be a challenge. To begin with, the planet might be pretty dim. Also, Gomes's simulations don't give astronomers any clue as to where to point their telescopes—"it can be anywhere," he said.

No Smoking Gun

Other astronomers are intrigued but say they'll want a lot more proof before they're willing to agree that the solar system—again—has nine planets. "Obviously, finding another planet in the solar system is a big deal," said Rory Barnes, an astronomer at the University of Washington. But, he added, "I don't think he really has any evidence that suggests it is out there." Instead, he added, Gomes "has laid out a way to determine how such a planet could sculpt parts of our solar system. So while, yes, the evidence doesn't exist yet, I thought the bigger point was that he showed us that there are ways to find that evidence." Douglas Hamilton, an astronomer from the University of Maryland, agrees that the new findings are far from definitive. "What he showed in his probability arguments is that it's slightly more likely. He doesn't have a smoking gun yet." And Hal Levison, an astronomer at the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado, says he isn't sure what to make of Gomes's finding. "It seems surprising to me that a [solar] companion as small as Neptune could have the effect he sees," Levison said. But "I know Rodney, and I'm sure he did the calculations right." - National Geographic.

ICE AGE NOW: Snow and "Unusual" Mid-May Weather in the English Midlands - Just 17 Days Before Summer Starts?!

Just 17 days before summer starts, hail and sleet hit the morning rush-hour in Wolverhampton, West Mids, as well as Staffordshire, Shropshire, Cheshire and Durham.  The Met Office said Scotland - where temperatures fell to a near record low for this time of year at -4C (25F) at Cairngorm, could see snow settling on the mountains and in the Pennines, Cumbria and southern Scotland

Halfway through May and walkers on the moors above Teesdale in County Durham were
met with hail, snow and bitterly cold winds
Temperatures could even get below freezing overnight in the south in sheltered spots as the “unusual but not unprecedented” mid-May weather continues.  Usually temperatures are up to 16C (61F) at this time of year but even in the sunshine the mercury is only reaching 14C and in the wind most parts of the country are much colder.  The showers will ease off temporarily mid week before coming back in from the North West and hitting the South and South East by the weekend.  The passage of winds across the Atlantic, known as the jet stream, is part of the reason for the unsettled weather as it is creating a block of low pressure over the UK while southern Europe wallows in sunshine.  The Met Office forecast the weather “looks to remain unsettled” until at least June 12, meaning showers could hit the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations on June 3-5.  Dave Britton, of the Met Office, it was impossible to predict conditions for each day this far in advance but that the weather is likely to remain unsettled.  "Conditions look to remain rather unsettled and changeable towards the end of May and into early June," he said. 

Weather Online, that gives more long range forecasts, said the Wimbledon tennis championships, running from June 25 to July 8, could also be wet.  The Olympics, from July 27 to August 12, will start at the end of a week’s rain, with “indifferent” conditions meaning rain is due at some point during the Games  Simon Keeling of WeatherOnline said: “A cooler and showery regime will establish into mid-June, with low pressure meaning potential rain and windier weather for all areas.  “Unsettled weather looks to continue through the remainder of June, apart from the close of the month, but July will start cool with showers for all as high pressure will be too far west for normal high summer weather.  “Mid-month sees a much warmer regime but it’s then downhill with rain for all until the final week of July.  “The pattern will attempt to revert but I doubt it will make it, so ‘indifferent’ would be the best term to describe the weather.”  Netweather forecast rainfall in the South-East down 10 per cent in June - but up 15 per cent in July. The good news is temperatures are expected to be 1C (1.8F) above normal in June and up 2C in July.  Netweather forecaster Paul Michaelwhite said: “Rainfall may be below or close-to-average in June, but a good deal of the UK looks to be close to or above-average in July. June and June are expected to be warmer than average.” - Telegraph.

PLANETARY TREMORS: Scientists Raises Fear About the Alaskan-Aleutian Subduction Zone - Could Generate Japan-Style Tsunami, Devastating California and Hawaii!

The next great Pacific tsunami may well hail from Alaska. And if it’s anything like the great swells of seawater that region has kicked up in the past, it could cause death and destruction as far away as Hawaii and California.

The tsunami that devastated Japan on March 11, 2011, was the largest ever to strike a modern,
developed coastline. But probably won’t be the last.
Recent analysis of Alaska’s potential to generate a future tsunami, highlighted in the May 8 issue of Eos, have turned up a worrisome similarity between the source of the magnitude 9.0 earthquake that generated the Japan tsunami and a particular segment of a major quake-prone fault running along the seafloor just south of Alaska’s Aleutian islands. That fault, known as the Alaskan-Aleutian subduction zone, marks where the edge of the earth’s tectonic plate carrying the Pacific Ocean plunges beneath another plate to the north. Sudden slip between those plates produced the Good Friday Earthquake (also called the Great Alaska Earthquake) of March 27, 1964, which was the most powerful earthquake in U.S. history. That magnitude 9.2 temblor resulted in 145 deaths, many of them hundreds of miles away—and 90 percent of them due to the resulting tsunamis. All around the rim of the Pacific Ocean, the edges of tectonic plates are scraping against each other, but it is the vertical motion that occurs at subduction zones that harbors the great potential for tsunami-generating tremors: When one plate slips suddenly past the other, the motion of the seabed displaces the seawater above it. The magnitude 9.0 Japan quake occurred along a plate boundary known as the Tohoku subduction zone. The resulting tsunami, measuring as high as 33 feet (10 meters), overwhelmed seawalls and other defenses shredded wooden structures nearly to kindling.
The Semidi Islands lie close to the faultline, and an earthquake could send a tsunami towards Hawaii and California
Clearly, Alaska has potential for similarly large earthquakes. But that is not what has scientists on alert. The precise location of the earthquake is even more important than its size when it comes to tsunamis. Even a super-strong quake won't cause more than a ripple if it happens in shallow water, but a moderate earthquake can generate a serious tsunami if it strikes where the water is deep. Indeed, the Tohoku tsunami attained its great height because the portion of the seabed that moved lay beneath five kilometers of seawater. In Alaska, scientists have zeroed in on one particular section of the Alaskan-Aleutian subduction zone near the Semidi Islands. This locked section of the fault has not ruptured since 1788 (or perhaps even earlier), and geodesy measurements reveal that strain is accumulating rapidly. And just like the portion of Tohoku that slipped last year, this severely strained section Alaska’s subduction zone lies beneath four to five kilometers of water. Investigations into the source the Tohoku tsunami have given scientists something else to worry about in Alaska. The Tohoku studies revealed that secondary movement along a deep-water branch fault displaced additional seawater, amplifying that tsunami. So far no one knows about any deep-water splay faults near the Semidi Islands, but scientists are keen to get a closer look at the region’s steep underwater morphology to find out for sure. - Discovery News.

MONUMENTAL EARTH CHANGES: U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta - Climate Change is a National Security Threat?!

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta declared global warming a national security threat yesterday during a speech before an environmentalist group in Washington, D.C.

"The area of climate change has a dramatic impact on national security," Panetta told the Environmental Defense Fund last night. "Rising sea levels, severe droughts, the melting of the polar caps, the more frequent and devastating natural disasters all raise demand for humanitarian assistance and disaster relief."  The Defense Secretary must have missed Examiner Columnist Mona Charen's recent piece on how symbols of global warming aren't working out the way environmentalists predicted.

For instance, The United Nations climate change panel "admitted that the melting Himalayas prediction was not based on science but on a 1999 media interview given by one scientist," Charen observed. "They said they regretted the error. Now, a study in Nature, based on satellite imagery, has shown that some melting of lower altitude glaciers is taking place but that higher glaciers have been adding ice."

With reference to the story of an apparently-marooned polar bear floating on an ice floe -- puzzling, as polar bears can swim for hundreds of miles -- Charen cited a new Canadian study showing that the polar bear population is on the rise.  "Oh, and the scientist for the Department of the Interior whose 2004 work on drowning polar bears inspired Al Gore and others has been placed on administrative leave for unspecified wrongdoing," she added. - The Washington Examiner.

MONUMENTAL EARTH CHANGES: Global Volcanism - Stunningly Massive Geological Upheaval at the Monowai Underwater Volcano Near Tonga in Just Two Weeks, Scientists Are Baffled by the Phenomenon?!

The violent rise and collapse of an underwater volcano in the Pacific Ocean is captured in startling clarity for the first time. Researchers studying the Monowai volcano, near Tonga, recorded huge changes in height in just two weeks. The images, gathered by sonar from a research ship, shed new light on the turbulent fate of submarine mountains. Published in the journal Nature Geoscience, the findings were made during a seabed survey last year.

Lead author Tony Watts of Oxford University told the BBC that the revelation was "a wake-up call that the sea-floor may be more dynamic than we previously thought. I've spent my career studying the seabed and have generally thought it pretty stable so it's stunning to see so much change in such a short space of time." As many as 32,000 underwater mountains have been identified around the world and the majority are believed to be volcanic in origin. Several thousand of these may be active but a combination of ocean depth and remoteness means that very few have been studied. This research into the Monowai volcano provides a fascinating insight into the little-known world of submarine geology. Monowai was first spotted from an aircraft in 1944. Surveys over following years found evidence of significant change - with the sea discoloured and seismic activity detected. Studies between 1978 and 2007 showed the summit repeatedly rising and falling. But this latest analysis compared images gathered on May 14 and then June 1-2 last year and even in that short period the volcano had undergone a transformation. Travelling on the research ship the R/V Sonne, the scientists first spotted that the sea above the volcano had turned a yellowy-green and gas bubbles were rising to the surface.

According to Professor Watts, ""I had butterflies. The gas was smelling awful - like rotten eggs. We saw a slick ahead of us and with something venting, there could have been a sudden shallowing of the water." The team then left the area to carry on with planned research elsewhere but three days later were warned that seismic detectors on the Cook Islands had detected violent activity around the volcano over a five-day period. "If we had been over the volcano during the eruption, rocks could have hit the hull of the ship - that could have been potentially dangerous." Later the ship returned to the scene and the scientists were surprised to see how much the volcano had changed. In the space of a fortnight, one part of the volcano's summit had collapsed by as much as 18.8m while new lava flows had raised another area by 79.1m. Most striking was the creation of an entirely new volcanic cone. The researchers believe the changes are larger than at most other volcanoes. Only Vesuvius and Mount St Helens have recorded larger growth rates. The paper says the speed of growth and change is "a reminder of how rapidly geological processes such as submarine landsliding and volcanism can occur." Professor Watts said: "Any movement on the seabed has the potential to create a tsunami. An earthquake suddenly dislocates the seabed. Here a violent disturbance lasted five days with magma oozing out which might be too slow to trigger a tsunami - but it's unknown. "This is a violent exchange of rock into the water - it could destabilise the cone and cause a landslide which in principle could cause a tsunami. The same expedition's survey produced stunning images last year of a line of underwater volcanoes being carried inexorably to the chasm of a subduction zone, the Tonga Trench. That research was investigating whether the volcanoes exacerbated or dampened the pressures on the fault line. - BBC.
WATCH: Rise and fall of underwater volcano revealed.

GEOLOGICAL UPHEAVAL: Another Massive Sinkhole Opens up in Florida - 80-Foot-Long by 40-Foot-Wide Sinkhole in Jonesville Chases Family Out of Their Home!

A massive sinkhole has opened up in a family's garden in north Florida, forcing them out of the home they built 37 years ago.  The 80-foot-long and 40-foot-wide sinkhole began appearing on Friday and, with the hole creeping further towards their home, Robert 'Robin' and Rhonda Matheny moved out on Sunday.

Frightening: A large sinkhole has opened up a backyard in Jonesville, Florida, forcing a family from their home.
A geologist inspected the sinkhole and told the couple it would most probably move closer to their Jonesville home so they moved into their son's house in Gainesville, The Gainesville Sun reported.  Photographs of the devastating scene show how the sinkhole has already engulfed a barbeque grill and how the couple's shed appears to be teetering on the edge.  The Mathenys said they had once considered moving out, but stayed for their grandchildren.  'We raised our kids here,' Rhonda said. 'We have eight grandchildren, and they would come here and we needed a big place.'  But now they accept they are going to have to move.  The couple has placed their belongings in storage and are now looking for a permanent place to stay. They know they will lose the shed - and also expect to lose the home.  'We'll be checking back, but we're not staying here anymore,' Rhonda added. 'We're at peace with it. We're OK.'  He husband added: 'The first time I saw it, the first thing I said is, "Ready to move?"'
Getting close: The home of Robin and Rhonda Matheny can be seen in the background. They have moved out.

Destruction: The 80-feet sinkhole is creeping closer to the home. Here, a shed teeters on the edge.
The geologist indicated that the sinkhole could be exacerbated by the swimming pool behind the home and by the rain. There is between a 40 and 50 per cent chance of rain over the next few days.  Friends called the sinkhole 'surreal' and noted that it had spread drastically in just 24 hours.  Others questioned what it would mean for the family's home - as well as the lots directly behind the garden that are up for sale.  It comes just a week after a family from Windermere, Florida were forced to move out of their home when a sinkhole opened up and crept closer.  Lou and Denise Lambros and their four children were immediately evacuated after the hole opened up and stopped just three feet from their house. They moved in with friends.  Sinkholes form when soil beneath the surface erodes - through droughts, floods or disturbing the soil - and a void is created underground. The surface soil then sinks to fill this gap.  They are particularly commonplace in Florida, home to soluble rock including limestone and dolomite.  Sinkholes can be remedied by injecting grout below the surface to fill the gaping areas in the limestone. Thick steel pipes can also be put vertically in the ground to support a structure. - Daily Mail.
WATCH: Aerial view of the sinkhole.

GLOBAL ECONOMIC CONTAGION: The Euro Zone Crisis - Greece Bank Run Starts; as Stocks Tumble, IMF Chief Warns Exit Would be "Quite Messy"!

The Euro Zone crisis is escalating, as Greece may be on the verge of a final collapse. According to the Reuters, anxious Greeks have started a bank run, withdrawing as much as 700 million euros ($894 million) from the nation’s banks on Monday. 

Greece's political leaders meet on Wednesday to form a caretaker government to take it to a second election in just over a month, with its euro membership at stake and its president speaking of "fear that could develop into panic" at its banks.  President Karolos Papoulias was forced to call a new vote after failing to cobble together a coalition government. An election on May 6 saw leftist opponents of Greece's EU/IMF bailout deprive the parties that ran the country for generations of a majority.  Polls suggest the radical left are poised to win the re-run.  That prospect has shaken faith in Greece's ability to remain in the single currency and stay solvent, sending the euro and European shares lower, and raising the bond yields that reflect the risk that other European countries will be hurt.  Greeks are withdrawing euros from banks, apparently afraid of the prospect of rapid devaluation if the country leaves the European single currency, minutes of Papoulias's negotiations with political leaders showed.  Central bank head George Provopoulos told him savers withdrew at least 700 million euros ($894 million) on Monday, the president told party chiefs. 

"Mr Provopoulos told me there was no panic, but there was great fear that could develop into a panic," the minutes quoted the president as saying.  "Withdrawals and outflows by 4:00 pm when I called him exceeded 600 million euros and reached 700 million euros," he said. "He expects total outflows of about 800 million euros."  Greeks have been steadily withdrawing funds from banks for months, and there has so far been no sign of queues at banks in Athens.  Opinion polls show that voters enraged over five years of recession, record unemployment and steep wage cuts are likely to elect a parliament as fragmented as the one they chose on May 6. But the vote, probably in mid-June, may well tip the balance of power toward leftist parties opposed to the bailout conditions.  Policymakers from European Union states and at the European Central Bank have warned that they would stop sending debt-choked Athens the cash it needs to stay afloat if a new government tears up the bailout.  Many Greek voters still hope they can stay in the euro without abiding by the conditions imposed to obtain the bailouts, as promised by Alexis Tsipras, the charismatic 37-year-old leader of the surging leftist SYRIZA party.  "There is a bit of schizophrenia in our society right now. People want to stay in Europe - have the cake - but they also want to eat it - by attacking the creditors," said Theodore Couloumbis at Athens-based think-tank ELIAMEP.  "Much depends on whether the Greek people in this repeat election are going to vote with anger and passion or if they will cool off, reflect and see in effect what the real choices are. The choice is between bad and worse."  Party leaders will meet Papoulias at 1 p.m. (1000 GMT) to put together a caretaker government. It was not clear who would be part of that emergency cabinet, whose main task would be to organise the repeat election - the third in Greece in as many years.

"DOESN'T LOOK GOOD"   Many in Greece pin their hopes on newly elected French President Francois Hollande, who campaigned on a pro-growth platform. Socialist Hollande offered some hope for more flexibility towards Greece on Tuesday, saying after his first meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel:  "I hope that we can say to the Greeks that Europe is ready to add measures to help growth and support economic activity so that there is a return to growth in Greece."  But despite encouraging comments from the conservative German leader about wanting to see growth, differences remain over how far austerity programmes might be relaxed.  IMF chief Christine Lagarde had earlier in the day joined a string of EU policymakers who have over the past days lifted the taboo of openly discussing the prospect of an exit of Greece from the euro zone. She said it was important to be prepared for that possibility and warned that an exit would be "quite messy".  European shares fell to their lowest closing level since the start of 2012 after attempts to form a government collapsed. Traders said markets could slump further in the coming days, with fears of a contagion to other crisis-hit EU states including Spain and Italy sending the euro below $1.28.  Patience is also wearing thin among a number of EU policymakers exasperated by the fact that a country which accounts for barely two percent of the euro zone's economy should drag the bloc back into a deep crisis yet again after more than two years of roller-coaster crisis.  "The 16 other governments in the euro zone really are at the end of their patience with Greece. There isn't room or any willingness to move," said one official involved in talks over Greece at the European Commission. "The decisions are really in Athens' hands. But it doesn't look good." - Reuters.
WATCH: As Greece heads closer to the exit door, is the European Union doomed?

GEOLOGICAL UPHEAVAL: Massive Sinkhole in Florida is Expanding - Hole Has Grown to Over 100 Feet Wide by 50 Feet Deep and it is Still Growing?!

The sinkhole in the backyard of a Windermere home that has attracted tourists and increased the home inspection business appears to be getting larger.

The sinkhole was originally estimated to be more than 100 feet across and 50 feet deep, and located about 3 feet from the back of a home at 4926 Indian Deer Road last week.

But when Local 6 news helicopter Sky 6 flew over the home on Friday, the sinkhole appears to have grown larger. The sinkhole is now about 2 feet from the home.

Sky 6 was there as crews worked around the sinkhole and at the surrounding homes. Officials haven't released an updated width and depth of the sinkhole. The family living in the home was relocated. - Click Orlando.
WATCH: Latest update on the sinkhole in Windermere.