Sunday, February 16, 2014

MAJOR ALERT: "We've Never Seen A Level Like We Are Seeing" - Radiation Leak At The Waste Isolation Pilot Plant In New Mexico!

February 16, 2014 - NEW MEXICO, UNITED STATES - A nuclear waste facility near Carlsbad, New Mexico is the site of an airborne radiation leak. The high levels of particles were detected late Friday night at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant.

WIPP is housed at an old salt mine, and toxic waste like plutonium is housed half a mile underground.

All of the 139 workers were sequestered on site.

WIPP is the nation’s first transuranic nuclear waste repository, used to permanently dispose of low-level nuclear waste from government sites around the nation.
“These are radionuclides that are of a hazard if inhaled, but it is not the kind of radiation that penetrates, and so the primary concern for the release of this nature is (through) the ventilation passageway and that’s why our employees are sequestered in place,” said Roger Nelson, a Department of Energy spokesman. (source)

The staff members have all tested negative for contamination, and nonessential employees have been cleared to go home.

There have been false alarms in the past, but the DoE said initially that this was a legitimate leak.

“They (air monitors) have alarmed in the past as a false positive because of malfunctions, or because of fluctuations in levels of radon (a naturally occurring radioactive gas),” Department of Energy spokesman Roger Nelson said.
“But I believe it’s safe to say we’ve never seen a level like we are seeing. We just don’t know if it’s a real event, but it looks like one,” he said.
It was not yet clear what caused the air-monitoring system to indicate that radioactive particles were present at unsafe levels, Nelson said. (source)
The Department of Energy is conducting testing at the site. There is no indication of what caused the leak at this time.

According to the DoE, despite their initial statement, there’s no longer real cause for concern. Last night, they released updated measurements on the number of potentially harmful airborne alpha and beta particles and said that none seems to have reached the surface. The story changed dramatically, taking a turn for the positive, as Nelson said that the leak was “not significant”.
“Monitors at the WIPP boundary have confirmed there is no danger to human health or the environment,” the department said late Saturday night. “No contamination has been found on any equipment, personnel, or facilities.” (source)
Do you feel reassured?

- Activist Post.

FIRE IN THE SKY: Will Comet LINEAR Produce A New Major Meteor Shower In 2014 - Earth Might Be Sandblasted By Comet Debris, If Predictions Hold True!

February 16, 2014 - SPACE - On the night of May 24, 2014 – if predictions hold true – Earth might be sandblasted with debris from Comet 209P/LINEAR, resulting in a fine new meteor shower!

Comet C/2012 X1 LINEAR shows a green coma from fluorescing gases and a short tail in this
photo made on Jan. 15, 2014. Credit: Rolando Ligustri

The list of major meteor showers hasn’t changed much in recent decades, but it has changed a little. Meteor showers are part of nature, after all, and the list of major showers shifts and changes slightly, as all things in nature do, with one shower or another becoming more or less exciting as the years pass. In 2014, though, an exciting new meteor shower might come on the scene. This possible shower stems from a comet – Comet 209P/LINEAR – discovered in 2004. Comet 209P/LINEAR passed near the sun in 2009 and will pass near it again in early May, 2014. On the night of May 24, 2014 – if the predictions hold true – Earth might be sandblasted with debris from this comet, resulting in a fine display of meteors, or shooting stars. Follow the links below to learn more about the possible 2014 meteor shower of Comet 209P/LINEAR.

Very different appearance of C/2012 X1 LINEAR during outburst on Oct. 21, 2013.
Credit: Ernesto Guido, Martino Nicolini & Nick Howes

What we know about Comet 209P/LINEAR. An automated observing campaign, the Lincoln Near-Earth Asteroid Research project (LINEAR), found this small and somewhat dim comet on February 3, 2004. The International Astronomical Union gave it the permanent number 209P on December 12, 2008.

P209/LINEAR is a periodic comet, that is, its orbit around the sun is relatively short so that we see the comet come close to the sun again and again. Comet 209P/LINEAR’s orbit brings it near the sun in just over 5 years. Its next perihelion passage will be May 6, 2014.

The comet itself is not all that exciting. What’s exciting is that calculations of the orbit of P209/LINEAR indicate that – in May 2014 – the comet’s debris trails will pass close to Earth. Debris left behind by the comet may enter our atmosphere and burn up, creating a new meteor shower.

Comet 209P/LINEAR on April 25, 2009 as captured by Michael Jager in Austria.

Comet 209P/LINEAR will sweep closest to the sun in early May of 2014. Two weeks later, dust particles
spread along its orbit may enter Earth’s atmosphere, creating a meteor shower.
Image by NASA / JPL / Horizons via

Will Comet 209P/LINEAR create a meteor storm? In 2012, meteor experts Esko Lyytinen of Finland and Peter Jenniskens at NASA Ames Research Center were the first to announce that Earth was due for a May 2014 encounter with debris from Comet 209P/LINEAR. Other meteor experts quickly confirmed this prediction and some did use the words “meteor storm.” The most recent calculations, however, indicate we might get a strong shower, but perhaps not a storm of meteors.

In 2012, Jeremie Vaubaillon of The Institut de Mecanique Celeste et de Calcul des Ephemerides in France told
So far,given the observations, we estimate a ZHR (zenithal hourly rate) of 100/hr to 400/hr, which is an excellent outburst! But this shower can become an exceptional one. Indeed, given the current orbit of the comet, all the trails ejected between 1803 and 1924 do fall in the Earth’s path in May 2014! As a consequence, this shower might as well be a storm.
The more recent, less optimistic calculations come from Quanzhi Ye and Paul A. Wiegert, both at University of Western Ontario. Their work was published online in November 2013. In a report on their work at, John Bochanski wrote that Ye and Wiegert’s work suggests a rate of 200 meteors per hour under ideal conditions. Bochanski wrote:
But Ye and Wiegert warn that, given the current relatively weak dust production of the comet, rates could be much lower. With the low dust production, as well as the team’s lower estimate of how many debris streams from the comet’s previous passes are hanging around in this region of space, it’s highly unlikely that we’re in for a meteor storm (1,000 per hour) — although the team couldn’t quite rule it out.
Will Comet 209P/LINEAR produce a meteor storm, or at least a strong meteor shower? As with all meteor showers, the only way to know is to go outside on the night of the predicted peak and see for yourself.

The constellation Camelopardalis is far to the north on the sky’s dome, close to the north celestial pole. It’s
the radiant point of the possible meteor shower from Comet 209P/LINEAR. Chart via Wikimedia Commons.

This hemisphere of Earth will be facing into the stream of debris left behind by Comet LINEAR on the night of
May 24, 2014. Skywatchers in southern Canada and the continental U.S. will be especially well
positioned to see the meteors. Image via meteor scientist Mikhail Maslov of Russia.
Visit Maslov’s website on the new meteor shower here.

When to watch, and who is best placed on Earth.
The peak night of the shower is predicted for May 24, 2014.

The meteors will radiate from the constellation Camelopardalis (camelopard), a very obscure northern constellation. Its name is derived from early Rome, where it was thought of as a composite creature, described as having characteristics of both a camel and a leopard. Nowadays we call such a creature a giraffe!

This constellation – radiant point of the May 2014 meteor shower – is in the northern sky, close to the north celestial pole, making this meteor shower better for the Northern Hemisphere than the Southern Hemisphere.
As for the predicted time of the shower … skywatchers in southern Canada and the continental U.S. are said by the experts to be especially well positioned to see the meteors on the night of May 24, 2014.

Bottom line: On May 24, 2014 – if predictions hold true – Earth might be sandblasted with debris from Comet 209P/LINEAR, resulting in a fine display of meteors, or shooting stars. Will it be a meteor storm? Most recent calculations say no, but it might be a strong-enough shower to be thrilling! - Earth Sky.

MONUMENTAL GLOBAL VOLCANISM: Global Volcano Report For February 16, 2014 - Fast Rising Magma Creates Impressive Volcanic Explosions At Indonesia's Mount Kelud, Resulting In Gravity Waves In The Eruption Plume, Four Fatalities, Mass Evacuations; Increasing Volcanic Unrest And Earthquake Swarms At El Salvador's Chaparrastique Volcano; Phreatic Explosions At Ubinas Volcano In Peru As New Eruptive Phase Continues; Sporadic Strombolian Explosion At Mount Etna In Italy; Explosions And Ash Plumes At Santiaguito Volcano In Guatemala; Strombolian Explosions At Nearby Pacaya And Fuego Volcanoes; And Gradual Enlargement Of Lava Dome At Sinabung Volcano In Indonesia! [PHOTOS+CHARTS+MAPS]

February 16, 2014 - WORLDWIDE VOLCANOES - The following constitutes the new activity, unrest and ongoing reports of volcanoes across the globe.

Kelud (East Java): The volcano continues to emit a dense steam plume and some ash, but has not produced new explosions. Apart from that the 2007 lava dome has been removed by the explosion, it is not very clear (nor easy to find out) what is currently happening in the crater.

The eruption of Kelut  (image: / @hilmi_dzi)

Steaming Kelut volcano this morning (photo: Aris Yanto)

A constant stream of analysis and interesting details about the eruption has been appearing. Among them the observation that in terms of SO2 output, impressive as it was, it was only a moderate event. The injected amount of SO2 is not sufficient to cause any noticeable (short-term) climate changes.

Ash in Pandan Sari village, 8 km east of Kelut

Satellite data have shown that the eruption column reached a maximum of 27 km altitude originally, before falling back and producing beautiful gravity waves at approx. 19 km altitude where it spread into an umbrella cloud.

SO2 plume from the eruption not going to affect world's climate

The SO2 aerosol plume from the eruption is drifting over the Indian Ocean. Despite the impressive explosion, in terms of quantity of SO2 ejected into the atmosphere, the eruption was a very modest event and is not going to affect earth's climate.

SO2 plume from Kelut's eruption over the Indian Ocean (@simoncarn)

Gravity waves in the eruption plume

The next picture shows the eruption column and umbrella cloud expanding at 19 km altitude, the top part of the column shooting over to 25-27 km altitude, and very nice gravity waves:

CALIPSO lidar data for Kelud eruption show nice gravity waves in the umbrella cloud at ~19 km altitude (@simoncarn)

As the eruption column was propelled upwards, driven by positive buoyancy due to the enormous heat content, its momentum made it shoot over its buoyancy-equilibrium level at 19 km, reaching up to 27 km. Afterwards, the plume sank back again now due to its weight and began spreading laterally into the umbrella cloud.

Traces of recorded infrasound waves pointing back to Kelut (CTBTO,

The ash plume of Kelut over the Indian Ocean (NASA earth observatory)

As the plume swung down and above its equilibrium level (where buoyancy is zero), it created the so-called gravity waves visible in the picture. They are comparable to those waves induced when a stone is thrown into a lake and produces ring-shaped surface waves.

Destruction caused by the eruption

Roof destroyed by ash fall

Samples of pumice from the eruption

Interior of house whose roof collapsed under the load of ash

Cleaning up efforts (photo: Aris)

Pumice samples collected at the Kelut volcano observatory

Ash fall in Yogya (200 km distance!)
Our correspondents Aris and Andy sent us some impressions from the devastated areas near Kelut. The village Pandan Sari (Ngantang) is totally destroyed. Up to 1 meter of tephra (ash, lapilli and small bombs) have fallen in places and 30 cm of ash is found inside houses.

4 fatalities, new size estimates

Additional details and new estimates about the recent explosion are emerging. Unfortunately, a 4th fatality caused by the eruption has now been confirmed by BNPB. All victims were within 7 km of the volcano. More than 100,000 people have been evacuated.

Fast rise of magma?

One of the most remarkable aspects of the eruption was how quickly it built up, suggesting a very fast rise of magma occurred in the hours before the explosion. VSI mentioned that there were only 2 hours between the appearance of shallow earthquakes (the typical immediate precursors) and the onset of the eruption itself.

Ash emissions from Kelut yesterday (photo taken from Blitar)

Ash emissions from Kelut yesterday (photo: @hilmi_dzi / Twitter)

With such little warning time, it was difficult to implement an effective evacuation, but still, one should recognize that Indonesian authorities have done a marvelous job. Still, it is a small wonder that there were not many more fatalities. Most of this is to be attributed to the fact, that the eruption seems not to have produced any or at least no larger pyroclastic flows (which in itself is also a small wonder).

New estimates of the size of the eruption
The latest estimates of the erupted tephra volume are in the range of 120-140 million m3, which puts the explosion into the subplinian category with a low 4 on the Volcanic Explosivity Index scale (VEI). The plume seems to have reached up to 20 km altitude, analysis of satellite data suggest. These values put the eruption to be the largest in recent years, since the 2010 eruption of Puyehue-Cordon Caulle in Chile.

The explosion produced also one of the largest-ever recorded volcano-related infrasound waves. The pressure waves were picked up by stations all over the world, the furthest one being IS53 in Fairbanks, Alaska at greater than 11.000 km or greater than 6.800 mls, and the calculated traces point all into the direction of Kelut.

San Miguel/Chaparrastique (El Salvador):Warning signs of a possible new eruption of the volcano in the near future are becoming increasingly alarming. Accompanied by an ongoing earthquake swarm, tremor (as an indicator of internal pressure) continues to climb. Pulsating gas emissions reaching 50-400 m height above the crater have been seen recently.

Tremor intensity at San Miguel volcano (MARN)

Location of recent earthquakes at San Miguel (MARN)

Current seismic signal showing tremor and intense degassing (MARN)

Sulfur dioxide (SO2) emissions remain high. Depending on wind direction and speed, air quality in downwind areas near the volcano often reaches unhealthy values.

Since 27 Jan, a total of 109 earthquakes were detected by MARN under the north flank of the Chaparrastique volcano, with magnitudes ranging between 0.6 and 1.9.

Ubinas (Peru): The volcano could be in the process of entering a new eruptive phase. Two small (likely phreatic) explosions occurred last Friday at 13:46 and 14:45 h local time (18:46 and 19:45 GMT), ejecting plumes of ash and steam rising approx. 1.5-2 km. A strong sulfur smell was noticed in up to 5 km distance.

Seismic activity at Ubinas during 14 Feb and since 31 Jan (IGP)

Ubinas, Peru's most active volcano, had been showing increased signs of unrest since the beginning of the month. Episodes of tremor occurred frequently during 1-9 Feb, accompanied by intense fumarolic activity. Tremor decreased after 9 Feb, but a swarm of long-period earthquakes occurred with up to 80 quakes detected per day.

Details of the seismogram on 14 Feb (IGP)

An important increase in SO2 emission (500 tons/day on 7 Feb) was measured, which suggests the presence of new magma. In addition, INGEMMET detected 25-30 mm inflation of the southern flank, but notes that it is likely a sign of its structural instability, enhanced by the current seismic activity (as opposed to being a sign of magma pushing from inside).

Authorities have distributed dust masks to people in the areas of Cancosani, Titi and Cangalle.

Etna (Sicily, Italy): Activity has remained essentially unchanged. Weak lava effusion from the fissure vents at the eastern flank of the New SE crater as well as sporadic strombolian explosion continue, accompanied by low tremor levels.

Currently active lava flows at Etna's New SE crater

Another small effusive vent on the NE base of the cone had formed and been briefly active yesterday evening, feeding a short-lived small lava flow. This vent seems no longer active today.

Santa MarĂ­a / Santiaguito (Guatemala): Activity at the volcano has not changed and remains dominantly effusive. Several blocky flows descend from the upper flanks of the Caliente dome, mostly on the E and SW side, generating constant avalanches. Occasional explosions with ash plumes of 500-800 m height occur as well.

Santiaguito volcano Friday morning

Pacaya (Guatemala): New strombolian explosions have started to occur at the Mackenney crater. This is the first eruptive activity at the summit since the paroxysm on 10 Jan which resulted in the collapse of the crater floor.

So far, the new strombolian activity has been weak, but signals the beginning of a new cycle that once again started to fill the crater again. INSIVUMEH reports about 2 explosions per hour, and ash plumes rising to about 100 m.

Fuego (Guatemala): Mild to moderate explosive activity continues at the summit vent. Occasional strombolian explosions eject abundant incandescent material to heights of up to approx. 200 meters above the summit and generate ash plumes rising 500-800 m and drifting 8-10 km mostly to the S and SE. No active lava flow was observed yesterday.

Sinabung (Sumatra, Indonesia): The eruption continues with no significant changes, but on a progressively decreasing trend. Most activity has been the slow extrusion and gradual enlargement of the lava dome-lobe oozing out from the vent and onto the southern slope. Occasional rockfalls and minor pyroclastic flows occur as well.

Small rockfall at the lava lobe of Sinabung a few days ago

As the intensity of the eruption decreases, refugees have been returning to their homes (except those from the closest villages at only 3 km distance).

A recent analysis of the erupted lava confirmed that the currently erupted lava is andesite (a viscous type of magma with intermediate silica content, and typical for volcanoes in subduction settings such as Sinabung and most other volcanoes in Indonesia).

Complete Earthquake list (worldwide) for February 16, 2014.

- Volcano Discovery.

GLOBAL FOOD CRISIS: Brazil Rations Water In 140 CITIES - Amid Worst Drought In Decades; January Was The Hottest Month On Record For Many Areas!

February 16, 2014 - BRAZIL - Over 140 Brazilian cities have been pushed to ration water during the worst drought on record, according to a survey conducted by the country's leading newspaper. Some neighborhoods only receive water once every three days.

The shadow of a hand is seen on the cracked ground of Jaguary dam during a long drought period that hit
the state of Sao Paulo in Braganca Paulista, 100 km from Sao Paulo (Reuters / Nacho Doce)

Water is being rationed to nearly 6 million people living in a total of 142 cities across 11 states in Brazil, the world's leading exporter of soybeans, coffee, orange juice, sugar and beef. Water supply companies told the Folha de S. Paulo newspaper that the country's reservoirs, rivers and streams are the driest they have been in 20 years. A record heat wave could raise energy prices and damage crops.

Some neighborhoods in the city of Itu in Sao Paulo state (which accounts for one-quarter of Brazil's population and one-third of its GDP), only receive water once every three days, for a total of 13 hours.

Three-year-old coffee trees are irrigated in a farm in Santo Antonio do Jardim (Reuters / Paulo Whitaker)

Brazil's water utility company Sabesp said on its website that the Cantareira water system (the largest of the six that provide water to nearly half of the 20 million people living in the metropolitan area of Sao Paulo) is at less than 19 percent of its capacity of 1 trillion liters. The company described the situation at Cantareira as "critical": the amount of rain registered in the month to January was the lowest in 84 years. Sabesp said the other five water supply systems in Sao Paulo's metropolitan area were normal for this time of year, however.

The PCJ Consorcio water association said the area would have to see 17 millimeters of rain a day for two months until Cantareira's water level recovers to 50 percent of its capacity.

Average reservoir levels in the southeast and central-west regions, which account for up to three-thirds of Brazil's hydroelectric power generation, fell to 41 percent in late January.

Brazilian coffee producer Marcio Diogo adjusts an irrigation system in his farm in Santo Antonio do Jardim
(Reuters / Paulo Whitaker)

January was the hottest month on record in parts of the country, including in Sao Paulo. The heat, plus a severe drought, has raised concerns over growing water shortages and crop damage. According to Brazil's national meteorological institute INMET, Sao Paulo's average maximum daily temperature so far this year was 31.9 degrees Celsius (89.4 degrees Fahrenheit), a degree hotter than the previous January record and surpassing February 1984 as the city's hottest month ever.

According to the state meteorological agency in Ceara state, the northeast of the country is also experiencing its worst drought in at least 50 years. Hundreds of thousands of cattle have died from heat exhaustion, and farmers are getting desperate. "I have never seen a drought like this,” Ulisses de Sousa Ferraz, an 85-year-old farmer in Pernambuco state, told Reuters, adding that he has lost 50 cows. “Everything has dried up."

Water markers indicating where water level used to be are seen at Jaguary dam, as the dam dries up over a
long drought period in the state of Sao Paulo, in Braganca Paulista, 100km (62 miles) from Sao Paulo
(Reuters / Nacho Doce)

It's believed that yields from the 2014-15 coffee crop, which will be collected in the southeastern states of Minas Gerais and Sao Paulo starting in May, were also probably hurt by dry weather in January, according to the PROCAFE Foundation. A shortage of rain could also diminish yields on the current orange crop.

It's hoped that summer rains could finally return by March to refill reservoirs and prevent serious economic losses. - RT.

PROTESTS & SOCIETAL COLLAPSE: Order, Order - Turkish MPs Suffer Bloody Injuries In Mass Parliament Brawl Over New Bill!

February 16, 2014 - TURKEY - Ministers and their political opponents are usually embroiled in a war of words, but rarely do things escalate into out-and-out fisticuffs.

Opposition politician Ali Ihsan Kokturk was injured in the brawl (Picture: Stringer/Turkey/Reuters)

However, in Turkey a debate on proposed legislation to increase the government’s control of the judiciary exploded into a brawl on Saturday.

One Turkish MP is believed to have suffered a broken nose in the incident, while another broke a finger.

The bill, which was eventually passed, gives prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government a tighter grip over the appointment of judges and prosecutors.

A scuffle erupts between the ruling AK Party (AKP) and the main opposition Republican People’s Party
(CHP) (Picture: Stringer/Turkey/Reuters)

Some MPs are not happy with the change in legislation (Picture: Stringer/Turkey/Reuters)

Senior figures against the change say that it contravenes Turkey’s constitution by narrowing the gap between the ruling powers and the independent and impartial judicial body.

The ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) rolled out the plans in an effort to combat a corruption scandal which has rocked the country and implicated close allies of Mr Erdogan.

The heated 20-hour session gave opposition politician Ali Ihsan Kokturk a bloody nose, while an MP from the governing AK Party suffered the broken finger.

‘The law is an apparent indicator of the ruling Justice and Development Party’s [AKP] attempt to cover the corruption investigation by redesigning the judiciary,’ CHP legislator Aykan Aydemir told the AFP news agency. - Metro.

 WATCH:  Policy punch-up as brawls break outs in Turkey's parliament over judicial reform.

RATTLE & HUM: The Latest Reports Of Strange And Loud Noises Across The Globe - Mysterious Humming Sound In Surbiton, London Leaves Residents Baffled; Strange Howing Sound Awakens St. Paul, Minnesota; And Loud Boom Shakes Homes In Oregon?!

February 16, 2014 - UNITED STATES & BRITAIN- The following stories constitutes the latest reports of mysterious humming and loud booms heard across the United States and Britain:

Mysterious Humming Sound In Surbiton, London Leaves Residents Baffled.

A mysterious background hum has led Kingston Council to issue noise diaries to Surbiton residents.

The noise has been an irritation for weeks, but the source of the noise itself remains unknown.

One Surbiton forum user said: “I can only describe it [as] white noise and quite low frequency.”

Another added: “The noise is very low frequency and is a humming, whirling motor sound. You can hear the sound in every room of our flat.”

Glenbuck Road and Avenue Elmers residents reported hearing the hum throughout the day and night.

Forum users speculated it may be emanating from within Surbiton station, or behind McDonald’s. - This Is London.

Strange Howing Sound Awakens St. Paul, Minnesota.
Was it an animal in distress? Heavy equipment tearing up concrete before dawn? A train accident?

Not that anyone in St. Paul could tell. But a distant, howling scraping sound woke people up about 4 a.m. this morning in St. Paul’s Highland Park and Mac-Groveland neighborhoods.

You can hear it here:

The sound echoed for miles through the city.

Ramsey County dispatchers initially thought it might have been demolition at the site of the former U.S. Bank offices near Highway 5, across the river from Fort Snelling. But they sent officers down to check it out and authorities now think it’s ice shifting on the Mississippi.

The river froze over in the gorge between St. Paul and Minneapolis during the recent cold weather, and it may have started breaking up as the weather warmed up last night.

Officials with the Army Corp of Engineers and the National Park Service, both of which have jurisdiction over the river, said they weren’t initially sure what the noise was, but they’re both listening and might be able to offer a more definitive explanation later. - MPR News.

Loud Boom Shakes Homes In Oregon.
Dozens of people from Lincoln County to Tillamook County reported hearing a loud boom and feeling the ground shake earlier today.

Beaver resident Josh Sisco said he felt it.

"Twice and I assumed it was a sonic boom," Sisco posted on Facebook page.

Lincoln City Police said they took only two calls, one from Neskowin and the other from a person at 14th Street in Lincoln City, both reporting a boom and ground shaking.

Several people have posted comments on The News Guard's sister publication in Tillamook, The Headlight Herald:

"It shook the house," wrote Heather Hurliman.

"Yes, I live in Netarts, and and went running out to see what it was only to find nothing," wrote Ken Hawes. "I felt the house shake as well. It was more of a rumble."

"We heard it here in Rockaway," wrote Racheal Young. "It was loud and shook the house."

Juliana Anderson wrote that she felt two booms in Cloverdale.

Others, like Rachel Boyer, thought it might have been a sonic boom from an aircraft.

Military training flight exercises frequently occur along the Oregon Coast.

"Wow, that must have been a seriously large jet," wrote Boyer.

No earthquakes have been recorded in the area by USGS.

Virginia Demaris, Lincoln County Emergency Services coordinator, said nothing concerning a boom or ground shaking had been reported to her.

We also checked with state officials for an explanation.

"We usually rely on the local emergency managers for any details," said Mark Tennyson, at Oregon Emergency Management in Salem. "We have not heard of any boom or shaking. Nothing has been reported to the state." - The News Guard.

TERMINATOR NOW: Rise Of The Machines - Self-Organizing Robot Armies Produced, And All Thanks To Ingenious Termite Logic! [PHOTOS+VIDEOS]

February 16, 2014 - TECHNOLOGY - Harvard ‘brainiacs’ are at it again. Inspired by termites, they have realized their dream of cheap, expendable, self-organizing robots – a construction crew building complex structures at a quick pace, and completely independent of leadership.

The possibilities are vast. The machines can be made to build any three-dimensional structure on their own and with minimal instruction. But what is truly staggering is their ability to adapt to their work environment and to each other; to calculate losses, reorganize efforts and make adjustments. It is already clear that the development will do wonders for humanity in space, hard-to-reach places and other difficult situations.

Looking at huge mounds of soil and the resilience of hordes of termites building them, working for a common cause, while their comrades die, the techies and engineers at the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) and the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University have created an army of little bots that do just that. And they cooperate and learn with no oversight.

Image from

The challenge was – how can one predict “high-level outcomes given low-level rules?” Small, insignificant parts need expert coordination to achieve a seemingly insurmountable task. But the scientists on the project wanted to go a step further and find out exactly what kind of “low-level rules” need to be met to control high-level results. Now, they believe they’ve created a user-specific structure, in which “the system automatically generates low-level rules for independent climbing robots that guarantee production of that structure. Robots use only local sensing and coordinate their activity via the shared environment.”

 Put simply, we will soon be able to harness the power of tiny machines, making up their own coordination framework to achieve complex tasks. All we need to do is give them the green light and input an algorithm.

This is the culmination of a four-year project, the results of which were published in the journal Science and presented this week at the AAAS 2014 Annual Meeting.

The initiative is called TERMES, and the little bots are already capable of handling complex construction three-dimensional construction projects, from houses to castles, while seamlessly re-organizing in instances when a part of the collective organism malfunctions. This is an exciting breakthrough for scientists for several key reasons: it is cheap, expendable, requires no oversight and, as a result, can be used in environments and tasks hostile to humans, like building or digging on distant planets or helping in humanitarian relief efforts, such as natural disasters.

Kirstin Petersen demonstrates termite-inspired robots at an annual meeting news briefing
(Image credit: AAAS/Janel Kiley)

In the video below, robots that are entirely 3D-printed, complete with all-terrain wheels, use a pre-set algorithm to generate their own rules and distribute tasks amongst each other while completing an assignment.

 "The key inspiration we took from termites is the idea that you can do something really complicated as a group, without a supervisor, and secondly that you can do it without everybody discussing explicitly what's going on, but just by modifying the environment," Harvard SEAS Professor of Computer Science on the project and co-leader of the Bioinspired Robotics platform, Radhika Nagpal wrote.

WATCH: Termite-Inspired Bots Ditch Advance Plans for Local Cues.


When we think of human construction and robots, there is one crucial distinction, the scientists believe: the construction crew can’t move an inch without a constant stream of tasks being coordinated at the top. However, "in insect colonies, it's not as if the queen is giving them all individual instructions. Each termite doesn't know what the others are doing or what the current overall state of the mound is," another scientist working on the project, Justin Werfel, explained.

To get the robots to do their thing, Werfel gives his robots a mathematical model of a structure to be built, but from that point on they set their own rules and make their own individual calculations, while accounting for hiccups and inconsistencies in real-time. The robots’ guts are comprised of ultrasound and infrared sensors, together with an accelerometer, which allows them to measure distances and locate themselves on a grid in relation to others and to the structure.

 One may ask, “Why termites?” The simple logic behind the analogy rests on the little creatures’ ability for 'stigmergy' – a method of communication based on observing each other’s movements and changes in relation to each other and the whole. That is why the TERMES project research is touted as living proof of how ever more complex, distributed and scalable artificial intelligence systems are possible.

A colony of termites (image from

Nagpal’s work with the Self-Organizing Research Group is involved in making the algorithms that tell any number of robots to act as a single unit. And apart from engineers and robotics specialists, the team also includes biologists. And what is really fascinating about the project is the desire to replicate natural situations which still have not found an explanation in real-life, namely – what exactly accounts for changes in group behavior as opposed to individual one. For that reason, Nagpal still predict that the end result involving huge armies of machines performing complex tasks, will, after all, rely on a mix “between the centralized and the decentralized system” to improve group efficiency. - RT.

GEOLOGICAL UPHEAVAL: Homes Evacuated As Massive Sinkhole Appears In Hemel Hempstead - 35 Feet Wide By 20 Feet Deep; Third Giant Sinkhole To Emerge In A Week In Britain! [PHOTOS]

February 16, 2014 - BRITAIN - A 20ft deep sinkhole has suddenly appeared this morning under a quiet cul-de-sac.

The people living in 17 homes close to the site in Oatridge Gardens, Hemel Hempstead, have been evacuated as the hole, measuring approximately 35ft wide and 20ft deep, is investigated.

Residents living near the scene of the huge sinkhole have told Sky News they reported feeling the ground shaking overnight.

Structural engineers and utility companies are at the scene of the cul-de-sac to assess the situation.

"It was a bit of a shock having the police knock on the front door at that time on a Saturday morning," Max Green, who lives in a flat on the road, told the BBC.

"At the moment we are stuck," he said.

It is the third sinkhole to emerge in a week in Britain.

A 15ft-deep hole appeared in the central reservation of the M2 on Tuesday and a second - 17ft-deep, 10ft-wide - opened up in a Kent garden the following day.

A Hertfordshire Police spokesman said: "The hole, which is in a residential cul-de-sac, has mainly affected the road. However, 17 properties have been evacuated for the safety of residents in the area." - Huffington Post.

ICE AGE NOW: Record Snowfall In Japan - Heaviest Snowfall In Decades; 12 Killed; 1,500 Injured; Transportation And Power Disrupted! [PHOTOS+VIDEOS]

February 16, 2014 - JAPAN - The heaviest snowfall in decades has left 12 dead and more than 1,500 injured across Japan, local media reported on Sunday. The snow has paralyzed the public transport system and left hundreds of thousands without electricity.

Students walk under snow covered trees at a park in Tokyo on February 14, 2014.
(AFP Photo / Toru Yamanaka)

One person died in a snow-related traffic accident in the city of Shizuoka located south of the capital Tokyo early on Saturday, police said. Another two people died in car crashes caused by snow in Shiga central Japan and Oita in the south western part of the archipelago on Friday, according to Kyodo news agency.

At least 1,500 people, including one in a coma, have been injured on the snow-covered roads since the storm hit the country on Thursday, local media reported.

The snow blanketed Tokyo with 27 centimeters (10.6 inches) of snow on Saturday morning, local media said, adding that it the heaviest snowfall the capital has seen in 45 years. While Kofu in the Yamanashi Prefecture, west of Tokyo, on Saturday saw a record snowfall of 91 centimeters since observations began 120 years ago. On Sunday 114 centimeters of snow fell in the prefecture.

A man pushes a vehicle after it lost traction and skidded on a snow covered road in Tokyo on February 15, 2014
as trafic is disrupted after a heavy snowfall. (AFP Photo / Yoshikazu Tsuno)

In addition to the roads, the local expressways experienced delays or were closed due to enormous amounts of snow. The Tomei and other expressways in the Tokyo area were closed on Saturday, local media reported.

19 people were injured when two commuter trains collided at Motosumiyoshi station in Tokyo on Saturday morning, officials said however adding that it is not yet clear whether the accident was caused by bad weather.

On Friday about 160,000 passengers on the Tokaido Shinkansen Line experienced delays of up to an hour, Japan Railway officials said as cited by AFP.

WATCH: Record snowfall in Japan.

ANA Holdings, Japan's largest carrier, said 338 domestic flights and 12 international flights were canceled on Saturday due to weather conditions.

About 4,500 people were forced to spend the Friday night at Tokyo’s Haneda airport after their flights were cancelled.

Tokyo Electric Power Co Inc (TEPCO) said up to 246,000 households were without electricity on Saturday.

WATCH:  Western Pacific Weather recent storm footage.


Japan’s Meteorological Agency has issued heavy snow warnings in many areas in the Kanto eastern region in and around Tokyo and the central Koshin region, according to Jiji news agency.

The snowstorm comes just one week after another record snowfall resulted in the deaths of at least 11 people and left more than 1,200 injured across the nation. - RT.

SIGNS IN THE HEAVENS: "A Dazzling Light Show" - NASA's Cassini Gets Close-Up Views Of Planet Saturn's Dancing Polar Auroras! [PHOTO+VIDEO]

February 16, 2014 - PLANET SATURN - NASA trained several pairs of eyes on Saturn as the planet put on a dancing light show at its poles. While NASA's Hubble Space Telescope, orbiting around Earth, was able to observe the northern auroras in ultraviolet wavelengths, NASA's Cassini spacecraft, orbiting around Saturn, got complementary close-up views in infrared, visible-light and ultraviolet wavelengths.

Image: NASA.

Cassini could also see northern and southern parts of Saturn that don't face Earth. The result is a kind of step-by-step choreography detailing how the auroras move, showing the complexity of these auroras and how scientists can connect an outburst from the sun and its effect on the magnetic environment at Saturn.

"Saturn's auroras can be fickle -- you may see fireworks, you may see nothing," said Jonathan Nichols of the University of Leicester in England, who led the work on the Hubble images. "In 2013, we were treated to a veritable smorgasbord of dancing auroras, from steadily shining rings to super-fast bursts of light shooting across the pole."

The Hubble and Cassini images were focused on April and May of 2013. Images from Cassini's ultraviolet imaging spectrometer (UVIS), obtained from an unusually close range of about six Saturn radii, provided a look at the changing patterns of faint emissions on scales of a few hundred miles (kilometers) and tied the changes in the auroras to the fluctuating wind of charged particles blowing off the sun and flowing past Saturn.

"This is our best look yet at the rapidly changing patterns of auroral emission," said Wayne Pryor, a Cassini co-investigator at Central Arizona College in Coolidge, Ariz. "Some bright spots come and go from image to image. Other bright features persist and rotate around the pole, but at a rate slower than Saturn's rotation."

The UVIS images, which are also being analyzed by team associate Aikaterini Radioti at the University of Liege, Belgium, also suggest that one way the bright auroral storms may be produced is by the formation of new connections between magnetic field lines. That process causes storms in the magnetic bubble around Earth. The movie also shows one persistent bright patch of the aurora rotating in lockstep with the orbital position of Saturn's moon Mimas. While previous UVIS images had shown an intermittent auroral bright spot magnetically linked to the moon Enceladus, the new movie suggests another Saturn moon can influence the light show as well.

The new data also give scientists clues to a long-standing mystery about the atmospheres of giant outer planets.

"Scientists have wondered why the high atmospheres of Saturn and other gas giants are heated far beyond what might normally be expected by their distance from the sun," said Sarah Badman, a Cassini visual and infrared mapping spectrometer team associate at Lancaster University, England. "By looking at these long sequences of images taken by different instruments, we can discover where the aurora heats the atmosphere as the particles dive into it and how long the cooking occurs."

The visible-light data have helped scientists figure out the colors of Saturn's auroras. While the curtain-like auroras we see at Earth are green at the bottom and red at the top, Cassini's imaging cameras have shown us similar curtain-like auroras at Saturn that are red at the bottom and purple at the top, said Ulyana Dyudina, an imaging team associate at the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, Calif.

The color difference occurs because Earth's auroras are dominated by excited nitrogen and oxygen molecules, and Saturn's auroras are dominated by excited hydrogen molecules.

"While we expected to see some red in Saturn's aurora because hydrogen emits some red light when it gets excited, we also knew there could be color variations depending on the energies of the charged particles bombarding the atmosphere and the density of the atmosphere," Dyudina said. "We were thrilled to learn about this colorful display that no one had seen before."

Scientists hope additional Cassini work will illuminate how clouds of charged particles move around the planet as it spins and receives blasts of solar material from the sun.

WATCH:  Dance of Saturn's Auroras.


"The auroras at Saturn are some of the planet's most glamorous features – and there was no escaping NASA's paparazzi-like attention”, said Marcia Burton, a Cassini fields and particles scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., who is helping to coordinate these observations. "As we move into the part of the 11-year solar cycle where the sun is sending out more blobs of plasma, we hope to sort out the differences between the effects of solar activity and the internal dynamics of the Saturn system."

There is still more work to do. A group of scientists led by Tom Stallard at the University of Leicester is busy analyzing complementary data taken during the same time window by two ground-based telescopes in Hawaii -- the W.M. Keck Observatory and NASA's Infrared Telescope Facility. The results will help them understand how particles are ionized in Saturn's upper atmosphere and will help them put a decade of ground-based telescope observations of Saturn in perspective, because they can see what disturbance in the data comes from Earth's atmosphere. - Daily Galaxy.