Monday, February 24, 2014

SOLAR WATCH: The Sun Erupts With Major X4.9 Solar Flare - Most Intense Of 2014; 3rd Largest X-Ray Event Of The Current Solar Cycle; Non-Earth Directed Coronal Mass Ejection! [PHOTOS+VIDEO]

February 24, 2014 - SUN -  A major solar flare measuring X4.9 was just observed around returning sunspot 1967 at 00:49 UTC.


Major X4.9 Class solar flare.


This just proves that you cannot judge a book by its cover. Despite appearing to be in a state of decay, the active region remains magnetically potent. A 10cm radio bust measuring 3700 sfu and lasting 85 minutes was associated with the event. The sunspot is not yet in a good geoeffective position for Earth directed eruptions.

This is the most intense flare of 2014 so far and the flare is the 3rd largest X-Ray event of the current solar cycle.


Major X4.9 Class solar flare.

Attached imagery by the Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) captures the major X4.9
solar flare in three different wavelengths.

So where does the latest solar flare rank amongst the largest of Cycle 24? It comes in as the 3rd largest flare
during the current solar cycle. Attached is a updated composite image by SDO.

NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory recorded the extreme ultraviolet flash. Although this flare is impressive, its effects are mitigated by the location of the blast site, which is near the sun's southeastern limb, not facing Earth. Strong geomagnetic storming is not expected at this time.


WATCH: Major X4 9 Solar Flare - February 25, 2014 .

 


The source of the flare is long-lived sunspot AR1967, now beginning its third trip across the Earthside of the sun. This region was an active producer of flares during its previous transits, and it looks like the third time will be little different.  By tradition, sunspots are renumbered each time they return, so AR1967 is now designated 1990.


Attached is an updated image by LASCO C2.


CME: As expected, a large coronal mass ejection (CME) is associated with the X4.9 Solar Flare. The plasma cloud is directed mostly to the east. 

ALERT: Type II Radio Emission
Begin Time: 2014 Feb 25 0045 UTC
Estimated Velocity: 1972 km/s
Description: Type II emissions occur in association with eruptions on the sun and typically indicate a coronal mass ejection is associated with a flare event.

SUMMARY: 10cm Radio Burst
Begin Time: 2014 Feb 25 0042 UTC
Maximum Time: 2014 Feb 25 0045 UTC
End Time: 2014 Feb 25 0107 UTC
Duration: 85 minutes
Peak Flux: 3700 sfu
Description: A 10cm radio burst indicates that the electromagnetic burst associated with a solar flare at the 10cm wavelength was double or greater than the initial 10cm radio background. This can be indicative of significant radio noise in association with a solar flare. This noise is generally short-lived but can cause interference for sensitive receivers including radar, GPS, and satellite communications.

SUNSPOTS: Attached is an updated look at the visible solar disk on Monday. Prior to the X4.9 Solar Flare event, solar activity initially declined to low levels with C-Class flares detected within the past 24 hours. Activity again reached moderate levels due to a low level M-Flare (M1.2) at 11:17 UTC Monday morning. Most flare activity, including the M1.2 flare, is being centered around former region 1967 which is now returning into view off the east limb. A dark core belonging to the long lasting active region is now visible in the latest imagery.



Elsewhere, sunspot duo 1981-1982 remains stable as it transits the center of the visible disk. All other regions, including region 1987, remain quiet. There will continue to be a chance for an isolated M-Class event with regions 1981-1982 and returning region 1967 being the likely source.



SOURCES: Space Weather | Solar Ham.



MASS BEES/BIRDS/ANIMAL DIE-OFF: Latest Incidents Across The Earth - 15,000 Seabirds Found Dead During Past Month Along The West Coast Of France; Mass Die-Off Of Bees In Murwillumbah, In Australia; Hundreds Of Dead Seabirds Continue To Wash Up On Beaches In Dorset, England; And 2,500 Cattle Dead Due To Outbreak Of Disease In Sukhbaatar, Mongolia!

February 24, 2014 - EARTH - The following constitutes the latest incidents of mass animal, bird and bees die-offs across the Earth:

15,000 Seabirds Found Dead During The Past Month Along The West Coast Of France.
Puffins found dead on a beach. © Maxppp

For the third consecutive weekend, the LPO Charente-Maritime asks its volunteers through the tracks to identify birds flood victims, some may still be saved if they are caught early.

Since the early storms in January, 15,000 dead birds or downer were found all along the coast of the Atlantic. They number in the thousands in Charente-Maritime for over a fortnight. This is mostly guillemots and puffins, birds of the high seas who found no food in the sea due to bad weather.

Charente-Maritime, those who are found alive on the beach are supported, warmed and fed, the Centre for the Protection Departmental Dolus-D'Oléron the only department. Since January 29, 275 birds are often very weak were housed, only a third survived. -Poitou-Charentes. [Translated]


Mass Die-Off Of Bees In Murwillumbah, Australia.
Luke Page with some of his Bee's outside of Murwillumbah. Blainey Woodham.

Honey producers are facing an environmental disaster with hives being destroyed or abandoned - and some are blaming the crisis on pesticides.

Murwillumbah horticulturist Luke Page cultivated bees for the past 18 months and believes his hives were affected by bug sprays.

"Recently I found a hive and all that was left of the bees was their skeletons.

"The bee is dead on the inside and the outside, and that's consistent with pesticide poisoning," he said.


Black beetle traps set inside Mr Page's hives. Blainey Woodham.

He has ruled out all growers in Tweed bar corn because they are sprayed daily.

 Mr Page admits the reason for the death of his bees is based on speculation, but his suspicions were confirmed by others in the region.

"I have spoken to a gentleman in Pottsville and he had hives go in a similar way."

Adding to complexity, farmers say they are using pesticides which are perfectly legal.

"We spray Australian standard pesticides first thing in the morning, when there is no breeze, so bees don't get into it," Cugden corn farmer Ross Julius said.

However, as of late, bee keepers who normally bring hives as a pollination service, in-kind for nectar, have not visited Mr Julius' property.

"You'd have to ask them why they don't bring their hives anymore," he told the Daily News.


 Mr Page with some of his hives. Blainey Woodham.

Doug Paddon, another grower from Cudgen, says to prevent bee deaths farmers must be strategic.

"I have wild bees in a shed to pollinate many crops. When they're active I don't spray and when they're dormant I do spray, but only at night when other bees are not working."

The Daily News' community paper, the Tweed Border Mail, reported this week a devastation of Australian honey bees following a feral beetle infestation, climate change and disappearing disease. - My Daily News.


Hundreds Of Dead And Dying Seabirds Continue To Wash Up On Beaches In Dorset, England.
Thousands of birds could be dying along the coast, conservationists believe.


Hundreds of dead and distressed birds are still being washed up on a beach in Dorset. Conservationists believe a deadly combination of storms and pollution are to blame.

"It's a large population of birds that's gone. It's appalling and it seems to be no end to it."

Conservationist Derek Davey is one of a number of volunteers helping clear up litter washed on to Chesil Beach by the recent storms.

Among the litter is a grimmer debris - the carcasses of hundreds of dead birds.

They include razorbills, guillemots, kittiwakes, puffins and auks. Mr Davey said he thought thousands could have died in total.

"There are still birds out there coming in and they're going to die tonight," he says.


Steve Trewhella thinks the pollutant is palm or vegetable oil dumped somewhere in Lyme Bay

Recent storms and pollution are thought to be the cause as some of the birds are covered in oil.

Lumps of what is thought to be palm or vegetable oil have also been found washed up along the beach.

It is thought that birds exhausted by the severe weather were struggling to feed, becoming weaker as a result. Any birds that became covered in oil would have also struggled as the substance impairs their waterproofing.

Dorset Wildlife Trust said some birds had been washed ashore alive but even those were found to be exhausted, weak and hungry.

"The whole beach is covered in these large lumps of what we believe to be either palm or vegetable oil," said Steve Trewhella, a conservationist and photographer from Wareham.

"It's a smelly rancid substance. I believe it's a danger to dogs, it must undoubtedly be a danger to wildlife."

He believes the oil was probably dumped somewhere in Lyme Bay.
'Landfill site'

"A majority of this litter is from the shipping and fishing industry. Some of it is from as far away as Newfoundland, Canada, but the majority of it is fairly local.

"There have been hundreds of birds washing up for a couple of weeks now - it's exceptional numbers.

"These are birds that are quite far out to sea and are probably dying of exhaustion [due to the stormy weather].

"The problem is they are already under so much pressure from fishing, pollution, PIB oil and all these other pollutants.


Volunteers have been trying to clean the debris and dead birds from Chesil Beach.

"These natural occurrences just put unbearable pressure on things that are already in decline."

Local volunteers have been clearing up rubbish and rescuing birds.

Mr Trewhella called on the government to help.

"It's very depressing. This a world heritage site - it looks more like a landfill site.

"I feel like dragging local MPs and councillors down to this beach and saying: 'Look, dead birds everywhere, pollution. This is something that needs to be tackled at government level'."

The deaths follow the PIB [polyisobutene] incident last year, where more than 1,000 sea birds were found dead on the south coast, covered in a deadly sticky glue substance.

PIB - a lubricant used to improve the engine performance of ships - was found on seabirds, mainly guillemots, in two separate instances between January and May.

It was thought to have come from a ship washing out its tank at sea.

The incident led to the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) reclassifying PIBs from 2014, meaning ships can now only wash their tanks and dispose of all PIB residues while in port.

Dorset Wildlife Trust urged anyone who finds dead or injured birds not to touch them and instead contact the Chesil Beach Centre or the RSPCA.


The lumps are strewn across the beach.


The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) said it had also received reports of small amounts of substances washing up on the Isle of Wight and Littlehampton over the past two weeks.

A spokeswoman said: "With the recent storms in the Atlantic, substances far out to sea may have been churned up and brought ashore by the treacherous conditions.

"The MCA continues to monitor all sources of information on pollution at sea through shipping aviation and satellite surveillance.

"As, and when, we receive relevant information the MCA is ready to act to try to determine the source of that pollution." - BBC.

Thousands Of Chickens Killed Due To Avian Flu In Sunsari District, Nepal.
Bird flu has been detected in two poultry farms in Itahari of Sunsari district. After confirmation that the chickens in poultry farms run by Tika Bahadur Rai and Hari Bahadur Karki at Itahari -7 had contracted avian influenza (H5N1) virus, a rapid response team culled the fowls and destroyed the eggs.

According to the District Veterinary Office (DVO), a rapid response team led by veterinarian Indra Narayan Sah culled 1,552 chickens from the two farms on Thursday. The Team also destroyed 20 crates of eggs at Rai´s farm. Bird flu was confirmed in these two farms after around 300 chickens in Rai´s farm died mysteriously.

“I had invested over a million in the poultry farm. But the chickens started dying a few days ago. Within a week, all my chickens died,” said Rai. Dr Bodh Raj Parajuli, director at the Regional Veterinary Directorate at Biratnagar, said chickens as well as other birds in the radius of 500 meters from the farm would also be destroyed.

Parajuli also urged poultry farmers to immediately report to the authorities if their chickens demonstrate symptoms of depression, lack of appetite, and a marked increase in mortality. - MyRepublica.


2,500 Cattle Dead Due To Outbreak Of Disease In Sukhbaatar, Mongolia.

Click HERE for the full report.



FIRE IN THE SKY: Meteor Fireball Blazes Across Catalonia's Sky!

February 24, 2014 - SPAIN - A meteor weighing between one and two kilograms (approx. 2-4 pounds) caught fire as it entered the atmosphere and was seen in several regions near the coast.


Meteorologist Eloi Cordomí explains during TV newscast Telenotícies that the fireball
was seen from Catalonia and that it was caused by a meteor.
TV3

Last Saturday evening, a fireball crossed the sky over Catalonia, according to several eyewitness testimonies gathered by the meteorological services at TV3.

Meteorologist Eloi Cordomí explained during Sunday's TV newscast Telenotícies Migdia that it had probably been a bolide or a meteor weighing approximately 1 or 2 kilos. It had caught fire as it entered the atmosphere.

The phenomenon described by Mr. Cordomí and later reported by Nació Digital was visible from different areas in Girona, el Maresme, el Penedés and Tarragona.

Numerous Twitter users replied to the meteorologist's appeal for eyewitness accounts, and confirmed having seen the fireball from Tordera and Vilassar de Dalt as well. - La Vanguardia. [Translated]



MIDDLE EAST CONFLICT: Israeli Planes Attack Hezbollah Targets On Lebanon-Syria Border - Two "House-Shaking" Bombing Raids Reported In Bekaa Valley; Several Killed!

February 24, 2014 - MIDDLE EAST - Israel bombarded a Hezbollah position on the Lebanon-Syria border on Monday night, Lebanese and other Arab media reported.


An IAF F-16 from the Red Dragon squadron, which played the enemy in the Blue Flag drill on Monday
(Photo credit: IDF Spokesperson's Unit/ Flash 90).


Al-Arabiya reported that the strike targeted a weapons shipment meant for Syria, and that several Hezbollah operatives were killed in the attack.

“Two Israeli raids hit a Hezbollah target on the border of Lebanon and Syria,” a Lebanese security source told AFP. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the target was a Hezbollah “missile base”.

Residents of Nabi Sheet, on the Lebanese side of the border, told AFP they saw flare bombs light up the sky ahead of the raids, which shook their houses.

However, Jaafar al-Musawi, head of Nabi Sheet Municipality, told Lebanon’s Al-Jadeed TV there was no airstrike on the town. “We heard warplanes followed by explosions, it could be along the border with Syria,” he said.

Residents in neighboring areas said they heard planes flying low before the raids.

Late Monday, Lebanese media reported two Israeli air raids on targets in the Bekaa Valley, a known Hezbollah stronghold bordering Syria.

A correspondent for the Lebanese state news agency in Baalbek reported intensive Israeli flights “at very low altitude” over the mountains.

Nabi Sheet itself is a bastion of Hezbollah, which is helping the Syrian regime battle insurgents. The Shi’ite group has a suspected weapons store and training camp there.

The Hezbollah television station Al-Manar said there had been “no raid on Lebanese territory,” reporting only the “strong presence of enemy planes over the area north of Bekaa” in eastern Lebanon.

A Lebanese army spokesman said they had no indication of any airstrikes in the area, but were investigating the reports.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights activist group said Israeli warplanes bombed a rocket launcher for Hezbollah fighters near the villages of Janta and Yahfoufa along the border. It was not known if the strikes hit inside Lebanese or Syrian territory, the Observatory added.

The Israeli military declined comment.

The Lebanese Daily Star quoted a security source saying the Israeli military struck a Hezbollah position near Nabi Chit.

Eyewitnesses told Al Arabiya that Israeli planes hit near the towns of Janta, Brital and Nabi Sheet in two separate strikes.

Al Arabiya reported that there were Hezbollah casualties in the airstrikes.


Satellite image of suspected Hezbollah training site near Janta. (screen capture: Google Maps)


Janta lies along a known smuggling route for arms between Syria and Lebanon, the Daily Star reported. According to a 2012 report, Hezbollah built a training facility at Janta “which includes a suspected driver training course, a 100-meter firing range and a possible urban terrain assault course.”

A Syrian opposition source told Israel Radio that the target of Monday night’s strike was a Hezbollah missile base.




There was no independent confirmation of the reports.

An officer in the IDF’s Northern Command told Reuters that “We have known for some time that there are efforts to move serious weaponry from Syria to Lebanon,” but would not comment on Monday night’s reports.

Airstrikes on Syrian arms shipments to its ally Hezbollah have been attributed to Israel in the past few years. Israeli authorities have never claimed responsibility for attacks in Syrian territory. - Times of Israel.




GLOBAL VOLCANISM: The Volcano Report For February 24, 2014 - Major Updates On Kelud, Suwanose-jima, Tungurahua, Popocatépetl, Kilauea, Santiaguito, Fuego, Etna, Nishino-shima, Sakurajima, Sinabung, Dukono And San Miguel! [PHOTOS+VIDEOS]

February 24, 2014 - WORLDWIDE VOLCANOES - The following constitutes the new activity, unrest and ongoing reports of volcanoes across the globe.

Kelud (East Java): On February 21st, a MODIS hot spot is visible at the crater, suggesting that a new lava dome could be forming there. This would be the effusive continuation of the recent explosion on 13 Feb, as magma with much less gas content continues to arrive at the vent.


The crater of Kelut on 18 Feb (Photo by Suwarno, a local photographer, via Oystein Lund Andersen)

Activity at the volcano has decreased two days later, but it is still unknown what exactly the situation at the vent is, whether or not a new lava dome is forming there. The thermal hot spot visible on satellite data could also be caused by hot gasses.


MODIS hot spot at Kelut volcano (ModVolc, Univ. Hawaii)

A picture showing the new crater at the place of the 2007 lava dome has emerged on our friend Øystein Lund Andersen's website, but of course, it is impossible to see what the bottom of the new pit looks like.


Suwanose-jima (Ryukyu Islands): Activity has been higher today. The volcano had several smaller explosions today. Plumes rose to altitudes of approx 2,000 ft (1.8 km).


Glow from an eruption at Suwanose-jima volcano (JMA webcam)


WATCH:  Suwanose-jima volcanic activity.

 


Kilauea (Hawai'i): The south spatter cone at Pu'u 'O'o erupted lava across the crater floor from about 6 pm yesterday and about 2 am this morning.


Popocatépetl (Central Mexico): Activity at the volcano has remained unchanged and is currently low. The number of explosive emissions of generally weak size is typically less than 10 per day. SO2 emissions remain elevated and glow at night is visible as a further indicator that magma continues to rise slowly to the crater.


Small explosion at Popocatépetl yesterday (CENAPRED


Santa María / Santiaguito (Guatemala): Activity at the volcano remains similar to the previous weeks. Effusion of lava keeps the flows at the eastern and southeastern sides of the Caliente dome active, where avalanches occur. No explosions were reported by the observatory this morning.


Fuego (Guatemala): Strombolian activity remains intense, with ejections often reaching 150-200 m above the crater and producing abundant incandescent avalanches. Thanks to the new webcam, this activity can now be followed much better and in near-real time. This is an example time-lapse showing this morning's activity at the volcano:


WATCH:  Fuego volcanic activity.

 


Tungurahua (Ecuador): Activity remains at moderate to high levels according to the Geophysical Institute (but is considerably lower than earlier this year). Occasional explosions produce ash plumes of approx 1-2 km height and light ash fall was reported from the Pillate sector yesterday.


Ash explosion from Tungurahua this morning



Etna (Sicily, Italy): Activity has remained more or less unchanged. The lava flows from the fissure vents on the eastern flank of the New SE crater continue to be weakly alimented and produce overlapping smaller flows. Most of them only reach only few hundred meters length, and rarely descend into the steeper western wall of Valle del Bove. As a result, most lava accumulates in the less steep area at the foot of the cone.


The lava flows at Etna this evening


Weak intermittent strombolian activity continued at the summit vent. Tremor has risen a bit over the past 24 hours, but overall is low.


Nishino-shima (Volcano Islands): The island continues to grow by progressing lava flows into several directions, as the latest images by the Japanese Coast Guard from 16 Feb show. Its highest peak, formed by the western of the 2 active vents, was measured at 66 m, i.e. it now reached almost twice the height of the peak of the old island. The new addition has more than doubled the size of the island so far.


Aerial view of Nishinoshima on 16 Feb 2014 (Japan Coast Guard)

It also formed a black-sand beach on the NE shore of the old part, as a result of lava fragments washed up by currents and waves.


Sakurajima (Kyushu, Japan): The volcano has increasingly strong explosions. A vulcanian eruption this evening around 23:10 local time (see video) produced an ash column rising approx 3 km and was accompanied by abundant eruption lightning and ejections of lots of incandescent material. Constant ash emissions constant ash emissions (probably from deep-seated strombolian activity) has been following the explosion.


WATCH:  Sakurajima volcanic activity.

 


Sinabung (Sumatra, Indonesia): Activity remained similar to the previous days with an overall decreasing tendency. Slow lava extrusion continues to feed the viscous lava lobe, where small rockfalls occur at the sides and its front.


WATCH:  Sinabung volcanic activity.

 



Dukono (Halmahera): Elevated strombolian, perhaps weak vulcanian-type activity at the volcano continues to produce frequent ash plumes at approx. 2 km altitude.


San Miguel (El Salvador): The situation has remained essentially unchanged and the volcano has (not yet) erupted again. Seismic activity remains high and continues to increase overall, while surface activity consists of pulsating gas emissions reaching a height of 200 m.


Tremor intensity at San Miguel volcano (MARN)


Complete Earthquake list (worldwide) for February 24, 2014.

- Volcano Discovery.



GEOLOGICAL UPHEAVAL: Tracking The Giant Louisiana Sinkhole - New Bubbling Site Discovered In Grand Bayou On LA-69! [VIDEO]

February 24, 2014 - LOUISIANA, UNITED STATES - According to the Assumption Parish Police Jury, a new bubbling site has been discovered in Grand Bayou on LA-69, 1/4 mile north of the Gator Corner.




WATCH:  Bubbling in Grand Bayou - February 24, 2014.

 

This is a developing story. More updates to follow. Stay tuned.



TERMINATOR NOW: Rise Of The Machines - CMU Robotics Professor Warns Of Growing Technology, Says Robots Will "Know Everything Just By Recognizing Our Face" And Ray Kurzweil, Google's AI Expert, Says Robots Will Be Smarter Than Us All By 2029!

February 24, 2014 - TECHNOLOGY - Illah Nourbakhsh, Professor of Robotics at The Robotics Institute at Carnegie Mellon University, does not help create the types of robots you will see in Terminator-like movies or even in the military.

CMU Robotics Professor Warns Of Growing Technology
(Photo by YOSHIKAZU TSUNO/AFP/Getty Images)

Nourbakhsh’s lab at Carnegie Mellon does not accept defense funding. Rather, he explains that his lab creates robots for the good of the people, thanks to local foundations.

“The reason we don’t take defense funding, is we want to build robots and robot technologies that we want people to use,” he said. “We don’t want to spend all our time building a really advanced interesting killing machine that we hope nobody ever has to use.”

Nourbakhsh says he respects those who do work on defense projects that affect our lives positively, especially long-term. But for moral reasons, he does not want to help create something that can kill a human being.

Nourbakhsh recently authored a book warning of a possible dystopian future robots can bring.  He describes his book “Robot Futures” as a look at how technology can change our future for the worse, and forces us to ask questions about technology before it’s too late.

He also warns that some technologies are already affecting our lives in a negative way. Nourbakhsh explains the concept of digital labor, and how we are laboring and giving away information for free, everyday, while online.

“What’s interesting about this new digital age, is that our behavior day-to-day, literally what music we listen to, what radio station we listen to, how we drive our car, where we look with our eyeballs, all of that is labor that we’re doing, that’s being collected by somebody, processed and then resold,” says Nourbakhsh. “So we don’t end up benefiting, instead, our work, the very fact that we hit that ‘heart’ sign on Pandora and decide what music we like, that becomes value for Pandora, their IPO gets expensive, their CEO makes money off of our work.”

He looks toward a future where robots will exist on our streets for the purpose of selling us something, or even helping us, and because of our digital labor, now the robot knows everything about us just by recognizing our face.

“I wonder what happens to us and our sense personal identity when everything about us is revealed when we interact with a robot.” - CBS Pittsburgh.


Google Says Robots Will Be Smarter Than Us All By 2029
World’s leading futurologist predicts computers will soon be able to flirt,
learn from experience and even make jokes

By 2029, computers will be able to understand our language, learn from experience and outsmart even the most intelligent humans, according to Google’s director of engineering Ray Kurzweil.

One of the world’s leading futurologists and artificial intelligence (AI) developers, 66-year-old Kurzweil has previous form in making accurate predictions about the way technology is heading.

In 1990 he said a computer would be capable of beating a chess champion by 1998 – a feat managed by IBM’s Deep Blue, against Garry Kasparov, in 1997.

When the internet was still a tiny network used by a small collection of academics, Kurzweil anticipated it would soon make it possible to link up the whole world.

Now, Kurzweil says than within 15 years robots will have overtaken us, having fulfilled the so-called Turing test where computers can exhibit intelligent behaviour equal to that of a human.

Speaking in an interview with the Observer, he said that his prediction was foreshadowed by recent high-profile AI developments, and Hollywood films like Her, starring Joaquin Phoenix.

“Today, I’m pretty much at the median of what AI experts think and the public is kind of with them,” he said.

“The public has seen things like Siri (Apple’s voice recognition software), where you talk to a computer. They’ve seen the Google self-driving cars. My views are not radical any more.”


WATCH: Boston Dynamics - Introducing WildCat.

 


WATCH: Boston Dynamics - LS3 Legged Squad Support System.

 


WATCH: Boston Dynamics - AlphaDog Proto.

 


Though credited with inventing the world’s first flat-bed scanners and text-to-speech synthesisers, Kurzweil is perhaps most famous for his theory of “the singularity” – a point in the future where humans and machines will apparently “converge”.

His decision to work for Google came after the company acquired a host of other AI developers, from the BigDog creators Boston Dynamics to the British startup DeepMind.

And the search engine giant’s co-founder Larry Page was able to convince Kurzweil to take on “his first actual job” by promising him “Google-scale resources”.

With the company’s unprecedented billions to spend, and some of humanity’s greatest minds already on board, it is clearly only a matter of time before we reach that point when robots can joke, learn and yes, even flirt. - Independent.



AGE OF OBAMA: Precursors To The End Of The United States Corporation - Americans Are Rising Up Against The Government; Three Examples Of Pushback Against The Ruling Class!

February 24, 2014 - UNITED STATES - America's ruling class has been experiencing more pushback than usual lately. It just might be a harbinger of things to come.




First, in response to widespread protests last week, the Department of Homeland Security canceled plans to build a nationwide license plate database. Many local police departments already use license-plate readers that track every car as it passes traffic signals or pole-mounted cameras. Specially equipped police cars even track cars parked on the street or even in driveways.

The DHS put out a bid request for a system that would have gone national, letting the federal government track millions of people's comings and goings just as it tracks data about every phone call we make. But the proposal was suddenly withdrawn last week, with the unconvincing explanation that it was all a mistake. I'm inclined to agree with TechDirt's Tim Cushing, who wrote: "The most plausible explanation is that someone up top at the DHS or ICE suddenly realized that publicly calling for bids on a nationwide surveillance system while nationwide surveillance systems are being hotly debated was ... a horrible idea."

On Friday, after more public outrage, the Federal Communications Commission withdrew a plan to "monitor" news coverage at not only broadcast stations, but also at print publications that the FCC has no authority to regulate. The "Multi-Market Study of Critical Information Needs," or CIN (pronounced "sin") involved the FCC sending people to question reporters and editors about why they chose to run particular stories. Many folks in and out of the media found it Orwellian.

How this program appeared was, like the DHS program, a bit of a mystery: FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai said: "This has never been put to an FCC vote; it was just announced." But the blowback was sufficient to stop it for now.

Meanwhile, in Connecticut a massive new gun-registration scheme is also facing civil disobedience. As J.D. Tuccille reports: "Three years ago, the Connecticut legislature estimated there were 372,000 rifles in the state of the sort that might be classified as 'assault weapons,' and 2 million plus high-capacity magazines. ... But by the close of registration at the end of 2013, state officials received around 50,000 applications for 'assault weapon' registrations, and 38,000 applications for magazines."

This is more "Irish Democracy," passive resistance to government overreach. The Hartford (Conn.) Courant is demanding that the state use background-check records to prosecute those who haven't registered, but the state doesn't have the resources and it's doubtful juries would convict ordinary, law-abiding people for failure to file some paperwork.

Though people have taken to the streets from Egypt, to Ukraine, to Venezuela to Thailand, many have wondered whether Americans would ever resist the increasing encroachments on their freedom. I think they've begun. - USA Today.



ICE AGE NOW: Volcanic Eruptions "Contributed To Global Warming Pause" - Scientists Claim?!

February 24, 2014 - VOLCANISM - The impact of volcanic eruptions on global warming could provide a new explanation for the so-called “pause” used by sceptics to deny climate change is happening, scientists have said.


Scientists said volcanoes had not been taken into account when experts predicted global warming after 1998 -
perhaps explaining the apparent 'pause' in climate change.  Research could explain why rate of
climate change appeared to slow down after 1998 – but experts say volcanoes
only offer ‘temporary respite’ from rising temperatures

According to a study in the US, models for predicting the rate at which temperatures around the world would rise from 1998 onwards did not take into consideration the measurable impact volcanoes can have.
Rather than contributing to global warming, eruptions release particles into the air that reflect sunlight – causing temperatures to drop.

Experts from the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California said this phenomenon was not taken into account when predictions were made – offering an explanation for why the world seemed to stop heating up.

“We show that climate model simulations without the effects of early 21st century volcanic eruptions overestimate the tropospheric warming observed since 1998,” wrote Dr Benjamin Santer in the journal Nature Geoscience.

“To reduce these uncertainties, better observations of eruption-specific properties of volcanic aerosols are needed, as well as improved representation of these eruption-specific properties in climate model simulations.”

Powerful volcanic eruptions send small sulphur droplets, or aerosols, high into the atmosphere where they act as a mirror to reflect the sun's rays and prevent them warming the ground.

In 1991, the second largest volcanic eruption of the 20th century occurred when Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines exploded with enormous force, killing almost 1,000 people and causing widespread damage.

Millions of tonnes of ash and gas were blasted into the atmosphere from the mountain, reaching an altitude of 21 miles.

Over the next two years, average temperatures across the whole of the Earth fell by up to 0.5C.

The research showed that Mount Pinatubo and the earlier major eruption of El Chichon in Mexico in 1982 “had important impacts on decadal changes in warming rates”.

In addition, 17 “small” eruptions occurred after 1999 which had a cumulative effect increasing the reflective effect of aerosols in the upper atmosphere by up to 7% per year from 2000 to 2009.

Scientists have provided a number of explanations in recent years as to why the apparent global warming “pause” came about, including natural climate variability to failures in accurate surface temperature measurement.

British climate expert Professor Piers Forster, from the University of Leeds, said: “Volcanoes give us only a temporary respite from the relentless warming pressure of continued increases in CO2.” - Independent.



PLAGUES & PESTILENCES: What Is Paralyzing Californian Kids - Parents Fear As Mysterious Polio-Like Illness Hits 25 Kids With NO HOPE Of Recovery?!

February 24, 2014 - CALIFORNIA, UNITED STATES - A mysterious illness doctors are comparing to polio has struck down up to 25 children in California, leaving them with paralyzed limbs and a bad prognosis.


Doctors believe they've identified as many as 25 California children suffering from a mysterious,
polio-like virus capable of paralyzing limbs.


Medical experts have identified the illness in Californian children over the course of a year.

The children, aged between two and 16, all suffered paralysis of the arms or legs and some experienced respiratory difficulties.

All the children had been vaccinated against polio.

Polio once paralyzed up to 20,000 people a year in the U.S. until the vaccine was introduced in 1955.

'What's we're seeing now is bad. The best case scenario is complete loss of one limb, the worst is all four limbs, with respiratory insufficiency as well. It's like the old polio,' Keith Van Haren, a pediatric neurologist at Lucile Packard Children's Hospital in Palo Alto, California, told USA Today.


First known sufferer: Sofia Jarvis, four, contracted the illness as a two-year-old and still has a paralyzed left arm.

The first known case appeared in 2012 when two-year-old Sofia Jarvis was admitted to hospital with breathing problems.

Her mother, Jessica Tomei, 37, told the Mail Online that her daughter Sofia began wheezing and vomiting and was rushed to hospital.

She spent four days in hospital after being diagnosed with asthma and was discharged. Tomei knew something else was wrong.

The toddler had full use of her left arm when she left the hospital but 24 hours later at a follow-up appointment, Tomei noticed the girl wasn't moving her left arm.

She was taken for an MRI scan but neurologists couldn't work out what caused her paralysis.

'I will never forget his face, when he came out to tell me the findings of the MRI,' Tomei says of the radiologist who read Sofia's MRI scan.

'He actually took her images to a pediatric neuroradiology conference to gather more opinions.'

Sofia has undergone intense physical and occupational therapy to restore function to her arm, but nothing helped.

She had surgery nerve transplant in April 2013 but Tomei says the family may have to wait a further two-and-a-half years before they know if it was effective.

Right now, Sofia's arm is completely flaccid and her muscles are shriveled from lack of use.


Mysterious afflication: The polio-like illness has affected up to 25 children in California.

'Sofia was completely healthy one day and paralyzed the next week,' says Tomei.

She can't think of anything that could have caused her daughter's sudden serious illness, except a virus that went around her sons' school.

Now four, Sofia improved little after her illness and now has a paralyzed left arm, weakness in her left leg and some breathing problems. Otherwise, she is a happy, healthy pre-schooler, and Tomei is grateful the mystery illness wasn't worse.

'We know we are lucky that the virus did not affect other areas of her spine as that may have caused paralysis of her legs or worse, all four limbs,' she says.

'As we were leaving the doctor's office, I noticed that she went to grab something with her left arm and she stopped, midway,' Tomei told USA Today.

Van Haren and other California neurologists searched recent medical files and found that there were more cases.


Mid-century disease: Iron lungs in the Hynes Memorial Hospital in Boston during the
Polio epidemic sweeping Massachusetts in 1955.


The California Department of Public Health's neurological surveillance team began to investigate the mystery illness.

Dr Carol Glaser, leader of the team investigating the illnesses, called a doctor's request for polio testing for a young patient 'concerning' because polio has been eradicated in the U.S. and the child had not traveled overseas.

The symptoms sometimes occur after a mild respiratory illness. Glaser said a virus that is usually associated with respiratory illness but which has also been linked to polio-like illnesses was detected in two of the patients.

Van Haren will present five cases of the disease at the American Academy of Neurology's upcoming annual meeting in Philadelphia.

All five experienced paralysis of the limbs that became most severe within two days. None had recovered any limb function after six months.

'We don't have a final case count, but it's probably in the neighborhood of 25 cases, all in California,' Van Haren told USA Today. - Daily Mail.