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How Going to Space Can Mess With the Astronaut Brain (new radiation research)


How Going to Space Can Mess With the Astronaut Brain

A new study finds that deep-space travel could warp reaction time.



New research from Johns Hopkins finds that long-term deep space missions can alter brain proteins and cause cognitive deficits like lapses in attention and slower reaction times. Researchers came to this conclusion by exposing rats to high-energy particles that simulate the conditions that astronauts would experience in deep space, then running them through a series of test that mimic the fitness assessments that astronauts, pilots, and soldiers are required to take.

But the strange thing scientists found is that deep-space conditions don't affect everyone the same way. About half of the rats tested emerged from the test entirely unaffected. The others began showing symptoms about seven weeks after exposure to space-like conditions. And once impairments appeared, they never went away. (Some rats showed improvement over time, however, raising the question of whether recovery is possible.)

The difference comes down to an individual's resilience after exposure to radiation. In space, astronauts who leave their space vehicles for space walks or other work are exposed to radiation from the sun's subatomic particles, solar flares, cosmic rays, etc. Even landing on the moon is a risk, since it doesn't have the kind of planet-wide magnetic field that protects us on Earth. (Mars, too, is a higher radiation environment than back home.)

If the findings translate to humans, scientists believe they might be able to identify a biological marker that would help determine how an individual astronaut's brain might respond to a deep-space mission before she rockets into the stars.


Justin Bieber's visit to Japan's Yasukuni war shrine ignites online backlash

Source: Sydney Morning Herald

Justin Bieber has a habit of getting into trouble, but nothing may have quite prepared the Canadian pop star for the scale of the geopolitical situation he just got himself into in Japan.

The problem arose when the 20-year-old posted two photos to his Instagram page that appeared to show his visit to the Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo. Both pictures have now been deleted, but not before they spread around the world. The reaction visible online has been largely negative.

Bieber doesn't appear to know what the Yasukuni Shrine is; he simply says "thank you for your blessings" with the first picture. But to many of his 16 million Instagram followers in Asia, Yasukuni is perhaps one of the most offensive locations on Earth.

Boy genius Justin Beiber has paid his respects at the Yasukuni shrine. You can't make this stuff up. On ANZAC day, no less, – George Henderson (@puddleg) April 23, 2014

Justin Beiber visits Yasukuni War Shrine. Clearly looking to broaden his Japan demographic. – Lucky Neneh (@LuckyNeneh) April 23, 2014

Justin Beiber = class A idiot . Yasukuni Shrine, really? Not only did he just lose every Chinese fan he ever had but also spreading hate. – David Schmidt (@DavidSchmidt) April 23, 2014

Yasukuni is a shrine to the 2.5 million men, women and children who died serving the Japanese Empire between 1868 and 1945. Controversially, those honoured include thousands of soldiers from World War II, and as of 1978, 14 Class A war criminals.

Bieber, in a later Instagram post, apologised for the visit.

"I was mislead to think the Shrines were only a place of prayer," the post said. "To anyone I have offended I am extremely sorry. I love you China and I love you Japan."


Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/world/justin-biebers-visit-to-japans-yasukuni-war-shrine-ignites-online-backlash-20140424-zqygc.html

An Open Source Analysis of China's Anti-satellite Testing in Outer Space


An Open Source Analysis of China's Anti-satellite Testing in Outer Space

Category: Aeronautics and Astronautics

Event Format: Webinar

Date: April 24, 2014

Location: US

On Thursday, April 24, at 11 AM EDT, SWF Technical Advisor Brian Weeden will be giving a webinar on his recent report on China's anti-satellite (ASAT) testing in space. The webinar is part of the Union of Concerned Scientists' Global Security Technical Webinar Series.

In this webinar, Brian will discuss the open source analysis he recently published on a May 2013 launch from Xichang Satellite Launch Center. This analysis, which included commercial satellite imagery purchased from DigitalGlobe, strongly suggests that the launch was a test of the rocket component of a new direct ascent ASAT weapons system derived from a road-mobile ballistic missile. The system appears to be designed to place a kinetic kill vehicle on a trajectory to deep space that could reach medium earth orbit (MEO), highly elliptical orbit (HEO), and geostationary Earth orbit (GEO). If true, this would represent a significant development in China’s ASAT capabilities. Brian’s recent paper is available at: http://www.swfound.org/media/167224/Through_a_Glass_Darkly_March2014.pdf

How to participate in the webinar:

The webinars use on online tool called GlobalMeet. A day or two before the webinar, check your computer’s compatibility by clicking on this link: http://securemeeting.globalmeet.com/GMTest/index.html

(Note that you will not need to use “screen share” so you can skip step 3 in the test.)

To join the webinar, a few minutes before the scheduled time go to: https://ucsusa.globalmeet.com/DavidWright

Login as “Guest” by giving your name and email address. To listen through your computer, click on “Call My Computer”, which will enable you to get audio over the internet. Participants in the U.S. and Canada can instead connect over the phone, if they prefer, by clicking “Connect Me” and entering the phone number where you want GlobalMeet to call you.

Once you join the webinar, the main window shows the slides for the presentation. The window in the upper left shows the speaker if he/she is using a web cam. Below that is a list of participants in the webinar, and in the lower left is a chat window.

If you have technical problems during the webinar, click on the “?” in the upper right corner and then click on “Live Chat”, which will connect you with support.

If you have questions about the webinar series or GlobalMeet, please contact:

David Wright (Union of Concerned Scientists): dwright@ucsusa.org or

George Lewis (Cornell University): gnl3@cornell.edu

Web Site Address: https://ucsusa.globalmeet.com/DavidWright

Contact Email Address: < dwright@ucsusa.org >

'Cowboy Indian Alliance' says 'no' to keystone

'Cowboy Indian Alliance' says 'no' to keystone

Published on Apr 23, 2014

Ranchers, farmers and tribal communities gathered in Washington to protest against the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline.

Via http://space4peace.blogspot.com/2014/04/cowboy-indian-alliance.html

Interview with Rose Gottemoeller, Under Secretary of U.S. State Department: "Deep human sympathy"


Interview with Rose Gottemoeller, Under Secretary of U.S. State Department: “Deep human sympathy”

April 17, 2014

Gottemoeller offers flowers at Cenotaph for A-bomb Victims, hopes to raise interest in ratification of CTBT

by Yumi Kanazaki, Staff Writer

Rose Gottemoeller, Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security for the U.S. State Department, granted an exclusive interview to the Chugoku Shimbun on April 11. Ms. Gottemoeller is visiting Hiroshima to take part as a guest in the Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Initiative (NPDI) Ministerial Meeting. According to the Hiroshima city government, she is the first Undersecretary of the U.S. State Department to offer flowers at the Cenotaph for the A-bomb Victims in Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park. Ms. Gottemoeller commented, “I felt deep human sympathy” in “a place where many suffered and died.”


Civil society and some national governments have begun pursuing a path toward negotiations for a nuclear weapons convention by discussing the humanitarian dimension of nuclear arms. What is the U.S. stance?

We have our partners in civil society. But I feel they don’t know enough about the very practical progress we’ve actually made with our step by step approach to nuclear disarmament. We have a far smaller number of weapons now (than during the height of the Cold War). We need to tell our story better. We are never working hard enough, I do admit that. But we are working very hard to rid the world of nuclear weapons. The president continues to be very, very committed to this goal.

The third conference on the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons will be held in Austria this autumn. Will you consider taking part in the conference?

We have been very interested in the way we could use the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons use as a way to really educate people. This is why my visit to the museum today was so valuable. You can really understand the terrible impact on human health, the economy, and the environment. We would like to work with the Austrian government to make the conference a real opportunity for education. If we are able to make this point clear, I think we would consider coming to the conference.

(Originally published on April 12, 2014)

Energy Department scraps millions in fees for nuclear loan guarantee

Source: Washington Examiner

Developers of a Georgia nuclear project didn't have to pay millions of dollars in fees designed to prevent risk for taxpayers when it secured $6.5 billion in loan guarantees from the Energy Department in February, the agency confirmed Tuesday to the Washington Examiner.

The DOE calculated a zero dollar "credit subsidy fee," which protects taxpayers if developers default, for electric utility Georgia Power -- a subsidiary of Southern Co. -- and Oglethorpe Power Corp. to spur completion of two large, next-generation nuclear reactors at the Vogtle power plant in Waynesboro, Ga. Energy & Environment Publishing's Greenwire first reported the story.

Dawn Selak, a spokeswoman with the DOE's loan program office, said the agency calculated little risk of default based on a methodology devised by the White House Office of Management and Budget.

“These calculations are made using a standard methodology, consistent with guidelines followed across the federal government. In this case, it should be noted that the Vogtle project sponsors are well-established, sizable companies that are already heavily invested and wholly committed to the project," she said in an email.


Autumn Hanna, senior program director with spending watchdog group Taxpayers for Common Sense, called the move "absurd."

"If there is indeed zero risk, then they should not need a federal loan guarantee," she told the Examiner.


Georgia Power has stood by the project despite delays — the reactors are 21 months behind schedule — and cost overruns of $1 billion that now put the project's cost at an estimated $15.5 billion.


Read more: http://washingtonexaminer.com/energy-department-scraps-millions-in-fees-for-nuclear-loan-guarantee/article/2547590

More subsidies for a nuclear boondoggle.
This should have been cancelled.

Markey and Warren urge improved earthquake safety measures at Pilgrim, Seabrook nuclear plants


Quake risks at New England nuclear plants cited

Warren, Markey urge upgrades at Pilgrim, Seabrook

By Jennifer Smith | Globe Correspondent April 18, 2014

US Senators Edward J. Markey and Elizabeth Warren are calling for increased safety measures at two area nuclear power plants after a Nuclear Regulatory Commission report found potential vulnerabilities to earthquakes.

In a letter to NRC chairwoman Allison Macfarlane on Friday, Markey and Warren asked the commission to require that Pilgrim Power Station in Plymouth and Seabrook Station in Seabrook, N.H., “implement mitigation measures against seismic risks that were previously unknown.”

Following the 2011 meltdown at Japan’s Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant, which was sparked by an earthquake and tsunami, the NRC established a task force to evaluate possible vulnerabilities at US nuclear facilities and the need for enhanced regulatory oversight, according to the NRC report released Thursday.

Markey and Warren were “alarmed” by the newly evaluated seismic risks at the two area facilities, which are greater than they were originally licensed to withstand, the senators said in the letter.

NextEra Energy Seabrook Station, which runs the New Hampshire plant, said on Friday night that it will be conducting an evaluation.


Astronauts to Reveal Sobering Data on Asteroid Impacts - Earth Day, Tuesday, April 22


Astronauts to Reveal Sobering Data on Asteroid Impacts
by Jason Major on April 16, 2014

This Earth Day, Tuesday, April 22, three former NASA astronauts will present new evidence that our planet has experienced many more large-scale asteroid impacts over the past decade than previously thought… three to ten times more, in fact. A new visualization of data from a nuclear weapons warning network, to be unveiled by B612 Foundation CEO Ed Lu during the evening event at Seattle’s Museum of Flight, shows that “the only thing preventing a catastrophe from a ‘city-killer’ sized asteroid is blind luck.”

Since 2001, 26 atomic-bomb-scale explosions have occurred in remote locations around the world, far from populated areas, made evident by a nuclear weapons test warning network. In a recent press release B612 Foundation CEO Ed Lu states:

“This network has detected 26 multi-kiloton explosions since 2001, all of which are due to asteroid impacts. It shows that asteroid impacts are NOT rare — but actually 3-10 times more common than we previously thought. The fact that none of these asteroid impacts shown in the video was detected in advance is proof that the only thing preventing a catastrophe from a ‘city-killer’ sized asteroid is blind luck. The goal of the B612 Sentinel mission is to find and track asteroids decades before they hit Earth, allowing us to easily deflect them.”


In addition to Lu, Space Shuttle astronaut Tom Jones and Apollo 8 astronaut Bill Anders will be speaking at the event, titled “Saving the Earth by Keeping Big Asteroids Away.”

The event will be held at 6 p.m. PDT at the Museum of Flight in Seattle, WA. It is free to the public and the visualization will be made available online on the B612 Foundation website. http://www.b612foundation.org/

China on course to become 'world's most Christian nation' within 15 years

Source: Telegraph

The number of Christians in Communist China is growing so steadily that it by 2030 it could have more churchgoers than America

It is said to be China's biggest church and on Easter Sunday thousands of worshippers will flock to this Asian mega-temple to pledge their allegiance – not to the Communist Party, but to the Cross.


Officially, the People's Republic of China is an atheist country but that is changing fast as many of its 1.3 billion citizens seek meaning and spiritual comfort that neither communism nor capitalism seem to have supplied.


"By my calculations China is destined to become the largest Christian country in the world very soon," said Fenggang Yang, a professor of sociology at Purdue University and author of Religion in China: Survival and Revival under Communist Rule.


China's Protestant community, which had just one million members in 1949, has already overtaken those of countries more commonly associated with an evangelical boom. In 2010 there were more than 58 million Protestants in China compared to 40 million in Brazil and 36 million in South Africa, according to the Pew Research Centre's Forum on Religion and Public Life.


By 2030, China's total Christian population, including Catholics, would exceed 247 million, placing it above Mexico, Brazil and the United States as the largest Christian congregation in the world, he predicted.

"Mao thought he could eliminate religion. He thought he had accomplished this," Prof Yang said. "It's ironic – they didn't. They actually failed completely."


Read more: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/china/10776023/China-on-course-to-become-worlds-most-Christian-nation-within-15-years.html

Cumbrian nuclear dump 'virtually certain' to be eroded by rising sea levels

Source: Guardian

One million cubic metres of waste near Sellafield are housed at a site that was a mistake, admits Environment Agency

Britain's nuclear dump is virtually certain to be eroded by rising sea levels and to contaminate the Cumbrian coast with large amounts of radioactive waste, according to an internal document released by the Environment Agency (EA).


The EA document estimates that the one million cubic metres of radioactive waste disposed of over the last 55 years by the civil and military nuclear industry at the site, near the Sellafield nuclear complex in west Cumbria, is going to start leaking on to the shoreline in "a few hundred to a few thousand years from now".


Officials at the EA are considering a plan by the companies that run Drigg to dispose of a further 800,000 cubic metres of waste there over the next 100 years. This will include radioactive debris from Britain's nuclear power stations, nuclear submarines, nuclear weapons, hospitals and universities.


Although Drigg was meant to be for low-level radioactive waste, there are fears that some of the disposals in the past may have included higher-level wastes. The rest of the nuclear industry's medium and high-level wastes are still awaiting an agreed disposal route, with successive UK governments failing for decades to find a deep burial site.


Read more: http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/apr/20/choice-cumbria-nuclear-dump-mistake-environment-agency
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