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New Cosmos Series

As host of the new TV series Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey, astrophysicist and author Neil deGrasse Tyson is following in the footsteps of the late Carl Sagan, the renowned scientist who starred in Cosmos: A Personal Voyage, the classic 1980 program that powerfully influenced many people’s view of science and the universe. Oddly, Tyson, who was in graduate school at the time, recalls that he only had time to catch a few episodes of the original Cosmos when it originally aired. All the same, Sagan still managed to exert a profound personal influence upon his future Cosmos successor, thanks to a meeting between the two that occurred when Tyson was a teenager. 

It happened back in December 1975, when Tyson, a senior from at the Bronx High School of Science who dreamed of becoming an astrophysicist, applied to Cornell University, and his application was forwarded to Sagan, a faculty member. To Tyson’s surprise, he soon received a personal reply. “It was completely surreal,” recalls Tyson. “I’m just a 17-year-old kid, and here’s the most famous scientist in the world—he’d been on Johnny Carson—inviting me to come visit him at his lab.” When Tyson took a bus from New York City to the Cornell campus in Ithaca, N.Y., and walked to the building where Sagan worked, he was even more startled to find the scientist waiting outside for him. After giving Tyson a tour of the lab, autographing one of his books and discussing the Viking Mars lander with him, Sagan gave Tyson a ride back to the bus station. “It had started snowing,” Tyson recalls. “He wrote his home phone number on a piece of paper and gave it to me, saying, ‘If the bus can’t get through, call me, and we’ll put you up for the night.’”

Read the rest of the story at: National Geographic Channel

Ancient city of Petra

Totally carved directly into vivid red, white, pink, along with sandstone cliff faces, the ancient Jordanian city of Petra was "lost" to the Western world for hundreds of years.

Located amongst rugged desert canyons and mountains in what is now the southwestern corner of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, Petra was once a thriving trading center and the capital of the Nabataean empire between 400 B.C. and A.D. 106.
The city sat empty and in near ruin for centuries. Only in the early 1800s did a European traveler disguise himself in Bedouin costume and infiltrate the mysterious locale.

In 1985, the Petra Archaeological Park was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site, and in 2007 it was named one of the new seven wonders of the world.

Indiana Jones Movie Location

Several scenes from the Hollywood blockbuster Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade were filmed in Petra. The movie's fictional Canyon of the Crescent Moon was modeled on the eastern entrance to Petra, a 250-foot-high (76-meter-high) sandstone slot canyon known as the Siq that leads directly to Al Khazneh (the Treasury)-perhaps the most stunning of Petra's dozens of breathtaking features.

In the film's climactic final scenes, actors Harrison Ford and Sean Connery burst forth from the Siq and walk deep into the labyrinths of the Treasury in their quest to find the Holy Grail. But, as usual, archaeological fact bowed to Hollywood fiction when Indy came to Petra.

In reality, the Treasury is nothing more than a facade with a relatively small hall once used as a royal tomb.

"You can't really say that anything in Indiana Jones is accurate," Haifa University archaeologist Ronny Reich said. "I was once asked in the United States if one of the responsibilities of Israeli archaeologists is to chase down Nazis. I told them, 'Not any more. Now we just chase down pretty women.'"

A giant urn carved above the entrance to the Treasury bears the marks of hundreds of gunshots. Bedouin tribesmen living in and among the ancient ruins say the damage was caused when local men would open fire with rifles, seeking the loot thought to be inside the urn (actually made of solid stone).

There are dozens of tombs and other carved or constructed structures and sites within Petra.

Advanced Society

The Nabataeans, before they were conquered and absorbed into the Roman Empire, controlled a vast tract of the Middle East from modern-day Israel and Jordan into the northern Arabian peninsula. The remains of their innovative networks of water capture, storage, transport, and irrigation systems are found to this day throughout this area.

Scholars know the Nabataeans were in Petra since at least 312 B.C., says archaeologist Zeidoun Al-Muheisen of Jordan's Yarmouk University.

Al-Muheisen, who has been excavating in Petra since 1979 and specializes in the Nabataean period, says no one has yet found any archaeological evidence dating back to the fourth century B.C. The earliest findings thus far date back only to the second and first centuries B.C.

But more clues remain beneath the surface. "We have uncovered just 15 percent of the city," he says. "The vast majority-85 percent-is still underground and untouched."

Numerous scrolls in Greek and dating to the Byzantine period were discovered in an excavated church near the Winged Lion Temple in Petra in December 1993.

Researchers at the American Center of Oriental Research in Amman, the capital, are now analyzing the scrolls and hope they will shed light on life in Petra during this period.

Once Rome formally took possession of Petra in A.D. 106, its importance in international trade began to wane. The decay of the city continued, aided by earthquakes and the rise in importance of sea trade routes, and Petra reached its nadir near the close of the Byzantine Empire's rule, around A.D. 700.

Visitors today can see varying blends of Nabataean and Greco-Roman architectural styles in the city's tombs, many of which were looted by thieves and their treasures thus lost.

Today, local Bedouins selling tourist souvenirs hawk their wares not far from the place where Arabs believe Moses struck a rock with his staff, causing water to burst forth.

Third Dutch-born Astronaut Launched on Soyuz TMA-03M

Soyuz TMA-03M launched successfully from Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 14.16pm Amsterdam time today, carrying the next three crew members for the ISS.
The European Space Agency's Andre Kuipers, NASA's Don Pettit and Roscosmos Oleg Kononenko launched to complement the crew for Expedition's 30 and 31 aboard the International Space Station.
The spacecraft will presently orbit the Earth 36 times, executing three major engine burns, to be able to adjust its trajectory to meet the ISS on Friday at 14.43 Amsterdam time ( +1 GMT). The docking on Friday will be broadcast live on NASA-TV. The three astronauts will join the US Dan Burbank and Russians Anton Shkaplerov and Anatoly Ivanishin, who have been living on the station since November. All six expedition members will be there to greet the first ever commercial resupply from the US, when Elon Musk's SpaceX Dragon ship sets out for the ISS in February. There'll also be time for Kononenko and Shkaplerov to carry out external assembly and maintenance on the station during a six-hour spacewalk.
Burbank, Shkaplerov and Ivanishin are due back in March, and the second half of the crew will return to Earth in May.
André kuipers is the third Dutch born to enter space for his second mission (his first mission was Soyuz TMA-4 launched 19 April 2004 duration 11 day's). The first dutch born in space was Lodewijk van den Berg (launched aboard Space Shuttle Challenger on April 29, 1985 STS-51B.), at the time of his flight, Van den Berg was not a Dutch citizen, having been naturalized as US citizen.
The second Dutch-born astronaut and first Dutch citizen to have been to space is Wubbo Ockels (Space Shuttle Challenger on October 30, 1985 STS-61A, the last successful flight of the challenger). 
During this 6-month PromISSe mission, André will conduct 57 experiments and around 15 from other Station partners, including human research, life sciences, physics, materials science, radiation research and technology demonstrations
His mission also features a strong educational aspect centred on the theme ‘Spaceship Earth’.
The lessons from space will educate children in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, as well as teaching about the requirements for life on Earth.
As part of ‘Mission-X: Train Like an Astronaut’, André will invite thousands of students to perform physical exercises and classroom lessons to compete with teams around the world to become as fit as astronauts. 


Turin Shroud Defy Scientific Explanation

Italian governmental scientists now have claimed to discovered proof that a supernatural event produced the image on the Turin Shroud, presumed by many people to be the burial cloth of Jesus Christ.

After many years of work attempting to replicate the colouring on the shroud, a comparable image has been produced by the scientists.However, they only managed the effect by scorching comparable linen materials along with high-intensity ultra violet lasers, undermining the arguments of other research, they say, which claims the Turin Shroud is a medieval hoax. This kind of technology, say scientists from the National Agency for New Technologies, Energy and Sustainable Economic Development (Enea), was in fact far beyond the capability of medieval forgers, whom most experts have attributed with making the famous relic.

"The results show that a short and intense burst of UV directional radiation can colour a linen cloth so as to reproduce many of the peculiar characteristics of the body image on the Shroud of Turin," they said.And in case there has been any doubt about the preternatural degree of energy necessary to make such distinct marks, the Enea report spells it out: "This degree of power cannot be reproduced by any normal UV source built to date."A statement by head investigator, Dr Paolo Di Lazzaro, stated: "If our results prompt a philosophical or theological debate, these conclusions we'll leave to the experts; to each person's own conscience,"he was quoted saying. Luigi Garlaschelli, a professor of chemistry at Pavia University, explained: "The implications are... that the image was formed by a burst of UV energy so intense it could only have been supernatural. However I don't think they've carried out anything of the sort."

Retreat of Arctic sea ice releases Methane Gas

Earlier this week during the American Geophysical Union meeting in Bay Area Dr Semiletov released Alarming results,  Dramatic and unparalleled plumes of methane are bubbling to the top of Arctic Sea discovered by researchers undertaking a comprehensive survey from the region.
Methane is roughly 25 times as potent at trapping heat as carbon dioxide over the course of a century. Igor Semiletov, belonging to the Asian branch from the Russian Academy of Sciences, explained he hasn't before observed the scale and pressure from the methane being released from underneath the Arctic seabed.
The dimensions and amount of the methane release has shocked the mind from the Russian investigation team that has been surveying the seabed from the East Siberian Arctic Shelf off northern Russia for almost 2 decades.
"Earlier we found torch-like structures such as this however they were only hundreds of metres across. This is actually the very first time that we have found ongoing, effective and impressive leaking structures, in excess of 1,000 metres across. It's amazing," Dr Semiletov stated. "I had been most astounded by the massive scale and density from the plumes. On the relatively small area we found a lot more than 100, but on the wider area there must be 1000's of these.
Researchers estimate that you will find 100s of immeasurable tonnes of methane gas locked away underneath the Arctic permafrost, which in turn stretches in the landmass in to the seabed from the relatively shallow ocean through the East Siberian Arctic Shelf. Probably the greatest fears is the fact that using the disappearance from the Arctic ocean-ice in summer season, and rapidly rising temps over the whole region, that are already melting the Siberian permafrost, the trapped methane might be all of a sudden launched in to the atmosphere resulting in rapid and severe global warming.
Dr Semiletov's team released a study this year determining the methane pollutants out of this region were about eight million tonnes annually, however the latest expedition suggests this can be a substantial underestimate from the phenomenon.
Previously, the Russian research vessel Academician Lavrentiev carried out a comprehensive survey around 10,000 square miles of ocean from the East Siberian coast. Researchers used four highly sensitive instruments, both seismic and acoustic, to watch the "fountains" or plumes of methane bubbles rising towards the ocean surface from underneath the seabed.
"In an exceedingly small area, under 10,000 square miles, we've counted a lot more than 100 fountains, or torch-like structures, bubbling with the water column and injected into the atmosphere in the seabed," Dr Semiletov stated. "We completed inspections at about 115 stationary points and discovered methane fields of the fantastic scale - I believe on the scale not seen before. Some plumes were a km or even more wide and also the pollutants went into the atmosphere - the concentration would be a hundred occasions greater than usual.

Lake Peigneur Disaster

On 20 November 1980, it was a beautiful morning in Louisiana a disaster developed in or rather under lake Peigneur.  The Diamond Crystal Salt Corporation operated the Jefferson Island salt mine next to and under the lake, at the same time at the Surface a Texaco oil rig was drilling down from the surface of the lake hunting for petroleum. Due to a miscalculation, the 14-inch (36 cm) drill bit entered the mine, starting up a chain of events which turned what was back then an almost 10-foot (3.0 m) deep fresh water lake into a salt water lake with a deep hole.
It's difficult to determine exactly what took place that day, as many of the evidence was destroyed and washed away in the resulting maelstrom (a very powerful whirlpool). One explanation is that a miscalculation by Texaco regarding their specific location resulted in the drill puncturing the roof of the third level of the Salt mine. This created an opening in the bottom of the lake. The lake then drained into the hole, expanding the size of that hole as the dirt and salt were washed into the mine by the rushing waters, filling up the massive caverns left by the removal of salt over the years since the opening of the mine in 1919 . The resulting whirlpool sucked in the Texaco drilling rig, eleven large barges and a great number of trees including 65 acres (260,000 m2) of the surrounding terrain. Because of the tremendous amounts of water that drained into the caverns the flow of the Delcambre Canal that usually empties the lake into the Gulf of Mexico was reversed, making the canal a temporary inlet. This backflow produced, for a few days, the tallest waterfall ever in the state of Louisiana, at 164 feet (50 m), as the lake refilled with salt water from the Delcambre Canal and the Gulf of Mexico . The water downflowing into the mine caverns displaced air which inturn erupted as compressed air and then later as 400-foot (120 m) geysers up through the mineshafts.
There were luckily no injuries and no human lives lost. All 55 people in the mine at the time of the accident were able to escape thanks to well-planned and rehearsed evacuation exercises, while the crew of the drilling rig fled the platform right before it was sucked down into the new depths of the lake. Three dogs were reported killed however. Several days after the disaster, once the water pressure equalized, 9 of the 11 sunken barges popped out of the whirlpool and refloated on the lake's surface.
The lake had salt water after the event, not as a direct result of water entering the salt mine, but from the salt water from the Delcambre Canal and the Gulf of Mexico , which are naturally salt or brackish water. The event permanently disturbed the ecosystem of the lake simply by changing the lake from freshwater to saltwater and increasing the depth of a big part of the lake. After the disaster the mine was closed in early December 1986.

Supernova Could Eliminate Life on Earth

Astronomers during the last American Astronomical Society conference said that a massive white dwarf star within the cycle of a multiple nova is substantially nearer to our own solar system in contrast to at one time thought. Whenever it actually does collapse into a type Ia supernova -- the resulting thermonuclear explosion will adversely affect life on the planet. Significantly.

The star is actually part of a binary starsystem a white dwarf that leaches mass off its sun-like neighbor called T Pyxidis, situated in the southern area of the constellation Pyxis, referred to as "The Compass Box." The system can be described as an recurrent nova since it has been subjected to frequent novas during the last century, suffering somewhat small thermonuclear explosions around 1890, 1902, 1920, 1944 and 1967, or just about every twenty years. 
It is currently been over Four decades since that last nova in 1967, and in the mean time the white dwarf continues to swell, nourishing off its neighbor. If it carries on to swell, it might eventually reach the Chandrasekhar Limitation, a critical mass at which point immediate gravitational collapse will occur causing a thermonuclear blast comparable to 20 billion billion billion megatons of TNT.

Considering that scientist have recently found out that T Pyxidis is only 3,260 light-years away from us, a neighbor by cosmic standards and a lot closer than up until recently thought, that kind of epic explosion wouldn't be good for our stellar neighborhood. The Gamma radiation which would reach Our planet would be equal to 1,000 simultaneous solar flares bombarding planet earth. The resulting creation of nitrous oxides in the upper atmosphere would undoubtedly completely destroy the ozone, at which point it is safe to say the planet would be compleetly uninhabitable.

But the magnificent scale of the cosmos that allows these kinds of massive, cataclysmic events to unravel also bears a gold lining for anybody on Earth. Although in terms of star life a supernova is probably around the cosmic corner, it is believed to take place millions of earth years from today, a full 10 million years by some estimates. The reality is that we're to far away from T Pyxidis to really tell exactly how big it is or how quickly it is accreting mass. But the end of the world will not be coming tomorrow. Or even in a couple of years.

Excellent video interview about T Puxidis on bottom of page.


The Disclosure Petition UPDATE

Press Release
September 27, 2011
The Disclosure Petition

Washington, DC - Paradigm Research Group's Disclosure Petition on the White House website has achieved the necessary 5000 signatures for consideration by and response from the Obama administration. Signatures from around the world have been registered. The wording of this petition is as follows:

"We, the undersigned, strongly urge the President of the United States to formally acknowledge an extraterrestrial presence engaging the human race and immediately release into the public domain all files from all agencies and military services relevant to this phenomenon."

The Disclosure Petition is located at:   http://wh.gov/gKC

Since 1992 hundreds of military and government agency witnesses have come forward with testimony confirming this extraterrestrial presence. Opinion polls now indicate more than 50% of the American people believe there is an extraterrestrial presence and more than 80% believe the government is not telling the truth about this phenomenon.

According to PRG executive director Stephen Bassett, "There is an international effort underway to generate as many signatures as possible behind the petition. This is a golden opportunity for the citizens of nations to affirm they DO have a right to know and CAN handle the truth."

Another referendum on this issue with over 4000 endorsements is ongoing at: www.worlddisclosureday.org

Relevant Websites:


Contact: Stephen Bassett
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