Archive for September 2011

The Biggest Satellites that have fallen to Earth   1 comment


 

Popsci

Skylab

Name: Skylab
Reentry Date: July 11, 1979
Reentry Location: South Western Australia
Size: 79 metric tons
Type: Uncontrolled reentry

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           

 

 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           

The American space station’s reentry was celebrated by media in the United States, with two competing San Francisco newspapers even offering rewards for parts or damaged property.

 

 

Salyut 7

Name: Salyut 7/Kosmos 1686
Reentry Date: February 7, 1991
Reentry Location: Capitán Bermúdez, Argentina
Size: 40 metric tons
Type: Large, uncontrolled reentry

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            

 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           

The Soviet space station had been uninhabited for almost 5 years when it returned to Earth, along with the unmanned spacecraft Kosmos 1686, showering a small Argentinian town with debris.

 

 

Mir

Name: Mir
Reentry Date: March 23, 2001
Reentry Location: South Pacific Ocean
Size: 120 metric tons
Type: Large, controlled destructive reentry

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              

 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            

Mir, despite efforts to save the 15-year-old Russian space station for commercial purposes, reentered the atmosphere over Fiji, and fragments fell into the South Pacific.

 

 

Saturn S-II-13

Name:Saturn S-II-13 (Saturn V Stage)
Reentry Date:  January 11, 1975
Reentry Location: Atlantic
Size: 49 metric tons
Type: Uncontrolled reentry

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             

 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            

The S-II was the second stage used on the massive Saturn V rocket, famous for launching Apollo astronauts to the moon. The S-II was used for the 13 launches of the Saturn V, including the 49 metric ton stage that reentered on January 11, 1975.

 

 

Cosmos 1402

Name: Cosmos 1402 (nuclear spy satellite)
Reentry Date: January 23, 1983
Reentry Location: Indian Ocean
Size: 4 metric tons
Type: Uncontrolled reentry

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           

 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            

Satellite nuclear reactors were normally jettisoned to a safe “parking orbit” when the satellites reentered, but Cosmos 1402’s reactor remained attached until breaking up over the Indian Ocean. Here, an American orbital analyst monitors the satellites trajectory from NORAD.

 

 

Mars 96

Name:Mars 96 (Mars probe)
Reentry Date: November 17, 1996
Reentry Location: Bolivia, Chile, Pacific Ocean
Size: 7 metric tons
Type: Uncontrolled reentry

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              

 

 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             

Mars 96 was a Russian satellite meant to send four probes to Mars, but failed and returned to Earth crashing into an unknown location in Bolivia, Chile, or the Pacific. No parts of the spacecraft, including its 200 grams of plutonium-238 fuel, have been found.

 

 

Space Shuttle Columbia

Name:Columbia (STS-107)
Reentry Date: February 1, 2003
Reentry Location: Texas, Louisiana
Size: 106 metric tons
Type: Large, controlled, destructive reentry

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             

 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            

During the reentry of STS-107, damage to the shuttle’s left wing shielding during launch allowed hot gases to enter the wing structure of the shuttle, leading to the disintegration of the vehicle. All seven crew members were killed, and debris was scattered over northern Texas and eastern Louisiana.

 

Posted September 30, 2011 by markosun in Uncategorized

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Small town Manitoba   1 comment


 

This is Somerset, Manitoba.  Located in the south central part of the province, 30 miles (50 kilometres) north of the U.S. border.  This is where I grew up.  It is a small town, population 420.  It is getting smaller every year as the residents die off from old age.  The farms have become massive operations.  Fewer people farm the land as the huge machinery doesn’t require as many people to put in and harvest the crops.  This leads to a decline in population in the area.  Not as many services are needed.  Enrollment is down in the schools and this causes a decrease in teachers and support staff. 

But the town still has a movie theater, two bars, a grocery store, two garage repair shops, two restaurants, government offices, skating and curling rinks, a community hall, giant grain elevator and a few miscellaneous other small businesses.  Somerset will still be around for a long time yet.  And the people that live there love the quiet and solitude.

Posted September 30, 2011 by markosun in Uncategorized

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Real Life Killer Monsters   4 comments


Killer Crocodile

It’s the kind of beast Steven Spielberg might feature in a movie. Villagers in Bunawan township in the Philippines celebrated what they hope is the end of a reign of terror when they captured a 21 feet long, 2,370 pound crocodile. Two years ago, a child was eaten by a crocodile that was never caught. Since July, a fisherman went missing, and a croc is a prime suspect. Villagers also reported that they saw a crocodile kill a water buffalo this summer. But this week, using steel cable traps and an animal carcass as bait, they caught the beast and it’s the largest crocodile ever to be taken alive. It took nearly 100 people to haul the monster from a creek, then a crane to lift it into a truck. While this capture may set Guinness Book records, there are still an estimated 250 such giant freshwater crocodiles still in the wild and roughly 1,000 of the saltwater variety. So perhaps they shouldn’t celebrate too quickly. And don’t forget Spielberg’s classic film Jaws in which the residents of a town terrorized by a great white shark rejoice when one of the creatures is killed, only to learn a harsh lesson later — -the real culprit was still out in the water. We hope the real life story has a better ending.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             

The Giant Squid

The giant squid has never been captured alive. These enormous sea creatures — scientists estimate that they may grow to be as much as 45 feet long and weigh up to a ton — occasionally wash up on shore but are more often found by deep sea fishermen who accidentally catch them in their commercial trawl nets. Giant squids have eight thick arms and two longer tentacles. Their eyes can be as much as 10 inches in diameter. In 2004, Japanese scientists successfully photographed a live squid nearly 3,000 feet underwater off the coast of the Ogasawara Islands. And here’s a fun thought: these inky cephalopods might be the true objects of sailors’ terror-filled tales or misguided affections, as sightings of merpeople and sea monsters date back hundreds of years. The most famous fictional incarnation of this legendary animal can be found in Jules Verne’s novel Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea in which the crew of the Nautilus does battle with a nefarious giant squid that has tentacles as long as the ship itself. Actually, now that we think about it, maybe it’s better that live squids don’t surface very often.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            

The World’s Largest Spider: Goliath Birdeater Tarantula

Arachnophobes, take this opportunity to look away, because the Goliath Birdeater Tarantula might be your biggest fear. As the largest spider in terms of mass, the Goliath Tarantula can grow up to nearly a foot across, weighing in at more than six ounces, with fangs that are over an inch long. Native to the remote rain forests of South America, this tarantula was named based on reports from explorers who claimed to see one eating a hummingbird. But while their scale can prompt them to seek out this type of large prey, for the most part, the Goliath primarily feeds on insects and other invertebrates, which it traps using its silk web and kills with its fatal venom. Despite their creepy appearance and vicious reputation, however, the tarantula’s bite is no worse than a wasp sting to humans, and to date there have been no reports of human fatalities due to this arachnid. Not like that makes us want to cuddle up to the Goliath anytime in the foreseeable future.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             

Portuguese Man-of-War

Don’t let its appearance fool you. That blob floating in the ocean is far from innocuous and it isn’t a jellyfish. As the name implies, the Portuguese Man-of-War isn’t a nice beast to meet in the ocean, as roughly 10,000 people swimming off the Australian coast discover each year. The creature is actually a “colonial organism” made of multiple polyps, the largest, a bladder filled with gas that is similar to the atmosphere, is often mistaken for a jellyfish — and it gives the animal it’s name since the bladder looks like the sail of an old Man-of-War battle ship). The other three polyps, gastrozooid (feeding), gonozooid (reproduction) and dactylozooid (defense), are clustered around the
bladder. The dactylzooids compose tentacles that can be more than 150 feet in length. Tiny fish can live in the tentacles, but when a human or larger fish is stung, the venom leaves red welts that can last multiple days. The recommended treatment is to apply salt water to the sting. Unlike jelly fish, vinegar is not recommended as a treatment, and contrary to old wives’ tales, urine is not a recommended treatment for a jellyfish or a Man-of-War. Let’s just say that avoiding this animal all together is the best defense.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              

BIG Fish

Why pick one gigantic, ugly fish when you can pick three? First up is the rarely seen oarfish, an eel that is the Guinness Book of World Records holder as the longest bony fish in the world. Oarfish — really a family of several species — can grow to as long as 56 ft. in length. While they usually live in deep water, they can sometimes float to the surface when dying — a habit that’s caused them to be mistaken for mythical sea serpents. The Brazilian arapaima is the biggest freshwater fish on the planet — they can reach 14 ft. and tip the scales at morethan 400 lbs. Unfortunately for their survival, arapaima are also very tasty — the species is threatened by overfishing. That’s not something the very nasty giant snakehead has to worry about, though. The Southeast Asian river fish is pretty big, but it’s also extremely aggressive, attacking anything that might threaten its young — including human beings. The snakehead can walk on land with its soft pectoral fins, and even breathe air for a little while. Don’t make one mad — it will find you.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             

Box Jellyfish

These guys definitely win for the least scary name, but the box jellyfish is proof that some of the most innocent-looking things can actually be incredibly dangerous — sort of like Justin Bieber. The fearsome box jellyfish or sea wasp can be found in the tropical Indo-Pacific, and their tentacles, each of which contain about 5,000 stinging cells, pack a serious punch. Box jellyfish poison is among the most toxic in the world, attacking the heart and nervous system. The pain from a sting is apparently so great victims beg to have the poisoned limbs amputated, and can sometimes simply go into heart failure because of the agony. Oh, and they’re also nearly translucent, meaning swimmers can collide with them unaware. Your best bet might be to make friends with a sea turtle — they’re impervious to the box jelly venom, and love to eat the spongy creatures.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             

Burmese Python

There are a lot of ways to get on this list: be super poisonous, be super scary or just be nasty looking. But the Burmese python does it the old-fashioned way — it’s just really, really big. The constrictor is one of the largest snakes in the world, usually growing up to 25 ft. and some 200 lbs, but there have been pythons as long as 50 ft. and as heavy as 1,000 lbs. And the snakes put that bulk to good use — they grab their victims with sharp teeth, wrap themselves around their target and simply squeeze. After their lunch has suffocated, the pythons swallow them whole with super-stretchy jaws. Fortunately, Burmese pythons rarely attack human beings, and thanks to habitat loss in the Southeast Asian jungle, the snakes are actually now a threatened species. So they should be more afraid of you — though if you meet one in a dark corner of the rainforest, somehow I doubt that’ll be the case.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            

Sasquatch

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            

With over 5,000 eye-witness accounts, tens of thousands of documented footprints, recorded vocalizations and some video, photo and film evidence the Sasquatch creature is a either a grand legend, or a blood and bones entity.  Sane people report seeing the creature close up.  And they say it is not a bi-pedal bear or a guy in a gorilla suit.  It is a big, smelly ape that walks on 2 legs.  But damn can this thing hide.  Eventually one is going to eat some rotten berries and get disoriented, then it may stagger onto a hilly highway, and some big rambling semi truck is going to nail it dead on.  Then the skeptics won’t know what to say.

As far as anybody knows the Sasquatch hasn’t killed any human beings.  Although Teddy Roosevelt wrote about an incident in Montana in the 1910’s where a montain man was stalked by a Bigfoot.  His badly beaten body was found by two trappers some time later.  Farmers and ranchers have reported missing chickens and sheep shortly after a Sasquatch was observed in the area.

Posted September 30, 2011 by markosun in Uncategorized

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“I’m a doctor, not a bricklayer….”, Bones McCoy tribute.   1 comment


 

 

Posted September 28, 2011 by markosun in Uncategorized

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Sea Stack formations along the Pacific coast   Leave a comment


A strange geological formation occurs along the Pacific coast of the northwest United States.  They are found especially along the Washington and Oregon coasts.  Islands that pop out of the ocean and are particularly tall.  They make for picturesque scenery.

Sea stacks are found around the world.  A different type of stack is the Flower Pot Rocks along the coast of the Bay of Fundy in New Brunswick.

A stack is a geological landform consisting of a steep and often vertical column or columns of rock in the sea near a coast, isolated by erosion.  Stacks are formed through processes of coastal geomorphology, which are entirely natural. Time, wind and water are the only factors involved in the formation of a stack.  They are formed when part of a headland is eroded by hydraulic action, which is the force of the sea or water crashing against the rock. The force of the water weakens cracks in the headland, causing them to later collapse, forming free-standing stacks and even a small island.

 

 

 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 

 

 

 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                

 

 

 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                

 

 

 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                

 

 

 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                

 

 

 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 

 

 

 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             

 

Flower Pot Rocks in New Brunswick

Posted September 26, 2011 by markosun in Uncategorized

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Israeli-Palestinian contrasts   1 comment


 

The intractable quagmire that is the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been happening for 62 years, and will in all likelihood go on for many decades to come.  It appears as though it cannot be solved.  The hatred between the two parties is so intense and deep that the idea of one side making a striking concession is unimaginable. 

Israel is a society with mainly western traditions and culture.  The Jewish inhabitants of Israel have a long history that dates many hundreds of years back to Europe.  Europe is where the political culture of Israel derives its philosophy.  Democracy is something the average Israeli understands.  Free elections, free speech and the rule of law.  The Palestinian Arabs on the other hand have no history with democracy.  Their history goes back to tribal groups and authoritarian leaders. 

This dichotomy makes the dispute even more difficult to manage.  The Israelis claim they represent the golden virtues of democracy in a sea of dictators and tyrants.  The Palestinians portray themselves as the beaten down victims.  Both sides have some truth in their arguments.  But both sides have a lot of manipulation and deception in their political agendas. 

The Israelis continue to build settlements in the occupied West Bank.  A continued effort to colonize the territory.  The Palestinians can’t do anything about it.  The Israelis keep their severe embargo on the Gaza Strip.  Causing the Palestinians in that austere reality to eek a livelihood anyway they can.  These bold indiscretions by the Israelis provoke the Palestinians into extremism leading to consequences like the radical Hamas gaining power in Gaza. 

In effect the powerful Israelis provoke the Palestinians into extremism, then the Israelis use this extremism as a reason to not negotiate fairly with the Palestinians.  The Israeli plan works perfectly.  Many western leaders look at the militant behaviour of the Palestinians and have empathy for the Israelis.  In the meantime the Palestinians stay condemned to a situation of powerlessness and despair.  Which in effect creates more radical behaviour.  And it goes on and on.  No end in sight.

In terms of contrasts between the two adversarial groups the cities are amazing examples.  Tel Aviv in Israel looks like a modern European or American metropolis.  And the cities in the Palestinian territories are mired in the reality of the 1940’s or earlier.

Map of the region

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 

Ramallah:  major Palestinian city in the West Bank

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 

Tel Aviv:  Largest city in Israel

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 

Gaza City

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  

Ramallah street scene

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      

Modern mall in Tel Aviv

Posted September 24, 2011 by markosun in Uncategorized

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San Francisco to suicide proof the Golden Gate Bridge   Leave a comment


 

 

The Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco has had more suicides than any other in the world, the number currently being over 1,200.  In 2005, documentary filmmaker Eric Steel set off controversy by revealing that he had tricked the bridge committee into allowing him to film the Golden Gate for months, and had captured 23 suicides on film for his documentary The Bridge. In March 2005, San Francisco supervisor Tom Ammiano proposed funding a study on erecting a suicide barrier on the bridge.

On Friday, January 22, 2010, the Final Environmental Impact Report/Environmental Assessment and Section 4(F) Evaluation (FEIR/EA) for the Golden Gate Bridge Physical Suicide Deterrent System Project (Project) with Alternative 3, the Net System, as the Preferred Alternative (see PDF of Alternatives, image of Net only), will be released at approximately 10 am. Also, by approximately 10 am, the FEIR/EA is available on the District’s website at www.ggbsuicidebarrier.org and on CD by email request to suicidebarrier@goldengate.org.

On Friday, February 12, 2010, at the regularly scheduled meeting of the Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District (GGBHTD) Board of Directors (Board) at 10 am, the Board will be asked to:

  1. Certify that the FEIR/EA complies with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA)
  2. Adopt a Statement of Overriding Considerations for the FEIR certification
  3. Approve the Project

Additionally, the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans), as assigned by the Federal Highway administration (FHWA), approved a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) for the Project on January 19, 2010.

The idea here is that if a person does jump they will fall 25 feet and land hard on steel meshed netting.  Likely injuring themselves quite severely.  The proponents behind this contend that this will act as a definite deterrent for jumpers.

Posted September 23, 2011 by markosun in Uncategorized

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