Beautiful new crayfish species discovery in Indonesia


Cherax pulcher, newly discovered crayfish

From Laughing Squid:

Cherax (Astaconephrops) pulcher’, A Newly Described Species of Brightly Colored Crayfish Found in Indonesia

by Glen Tickle at 12:43 pm on May 21, 2015

Cherax (Astaconephrops) pulcher is a newly described species of brightly colored crayfish found in Indonesia. The paper describing the species was published by Christian Lukhaup in the journal ZooKeys on May 4, 2015, but Lukhaup had seen the animal ten years ago in a photograph, and it has been sold in pet shops in Japan and Europe.

The bright blue, pink, and purple colors seen particularly in the males of the species along with spots on the animals’ shells make them look not unlike images of distant galaxies and gas clouds captured by the Hubble Space Telescope, or as Elahe Izadi of The Washington Post described them, “a Lisa Frank creation.”

Antarctic ice shelf disintegrating


This video says about itself:

NASA Study Shows Antarctica’s Larsen B Ice Shelf Nearing Its Final Act

14 May 2015

A new NASA study finds the last remaining section of Antarctica‘s Larsen B Ice Shelf, which partially collapsed in 2002, is quickly weakening and likely to disintegrate completely before the end of the decade.

A team led by Ala Khazendar of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California, found the remnant of the Larsen B Ice Shelf is flowing faster, becoming increasingly fragmented and developing large cracks. Two of its tributary glaciers also are flowing faster and thinning rapidly.

Khazendar said, “These are warning signs that the remnant is disintegrating.”

Wernher von Braun, Hitler’s rocket engineer


This video from the USA says about itself:

Wernher von Braun: From Nazis to NASA

16 December 2014

The American space program wouldn’t be what it is today if it weren’t for the contributions of a scientist who was also a former Nazi. Learn about the life and work of rocket scientist Wernher von Braun.

Hosted by: Hank Green

By Peter Frost in Britain:

The Nazi who got away with it

Monday 11th May 2015

Peter Frost has found memories in Germany, France and the US of a fascist rocket man and mass murderer who simply escaped justice

THE date: May 2 1945. The Location: Oberammergau in the Bavarian Alps, where the cream of Germany’s rocket engineers are under the protection of the SS.

Allied troops are advancing across Germany. Wernher von Braun, the leader of the scientists, is determined to organise his surrender to US troops. He sends his brother Magnus out on his bicycle to find the US 44th Infantry.

Magnus approaches a soldier, calling out in broken English: “My name is Magnus von Braun. My brother invented the V-2. We want to surrender.”

Wernher von Braun was a nazi war criminal. Unlike some of his compatriots he never had to hide out in South America. His prompt action in Oberammergau meant that he would live a well-paid long public life in the US.

Don’t believe all the US post-war propaganda about him being a talented but non-political rocket scientist. He joined the Nazi Party in 1937 after bullying his way to the top position in German rocket research. He joined the SS and was promoted every year. He sported a swastika lapel badge and was photographed in full SS uniform with Himmler, his boss.

Strangely I’ve been coming across memories of Braun on a number of visits all over the world. His is a fascinating story of how, if you have the right skills, experience and political allies, you can get away with mass murder.

I first became interested in the man and his story when I visited his office, drawing office and workshop at Peenemunde on eastern Germany’s Baltic Coast some years ago.

It was here that Braun first developed the V-1 buzz-bombs that terrified Londoners and also the V-2 rockets that were so fast and so silent that Londoners didn’t have time to be terrified and were killed in their hundreds.

Today in reunified Germany those offices and workshops have been swept away along with, the authorities hope, all memories of Braun and his nazi plans for world domination by rocket.

On another later holiday I visited Cape Canaveral, now renamed Cape Kennedy, the US’s main rocket base on the east coast of Florida, where Braun was set up directly after the war, not as a war criminal but feted, given US citizenship, a good government salary and equipped with an office, drawing office and workshop built as an exact copy of the ones he had used in Peenemunde.

Braun’s V2 terror weapon — V for vergeltung, the German word for revenge — would become the basis for US space rockets, military intercontinental ballistic missiles and eventually the Apollo moon landing.

Today it’s hard to believe the US embarrassment at the Soviet Union’s early space achievements. The USSR launched the first artificial satellite, Sputnik, in 1957. The first dog to fly in space, Laika took off the same year.

In 1959 a Soviet probe hit the moon. The first man in space was Yuri Gagarin, who flew in 1961. In 1965 the first woman in space was Soviet cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova. That year too cosmonaut Alexei Leonov was the first to walk in space outside a space craft.

A recent survey by a US magazine showed that the vast majority of US citizens believed that their country achieved all those notable space firsts.

The US, it seemed, would forgive Braun and his nazi rocket team anything if they could get the US back into the space race and develop more deadly weapons.

Last summer in France we visited a wonderful museum just outside St Omer on the road from Calais. La Coupole is a huge man-made dome hidden in the French countryside. It’s been secret and unseen since 1943 until just a year or two ago.

It was dug on the orders of Braun, by 500 Soviet slave prisoners working in horrific conditions, as an assembly factory and launching spot for V-1 and V-2 rockets.

Only recently open to the public, the museum is also a tribute to the French resistance fighters — many of them French communists who played such an important part in the eventual defeat of the Nazis.

Unlike most of his nazi co-criminals who were hung at Nuremburg, Braun died in 1977 — a rich and famous man much admired in the US.

I think we should simply remember him as the Nazi war criminal who tried to rain death, destruction and mass murder on London, but never crushed our spirit.

This music video from the USA says about itself:

Tom Lehrer – Wernher von Braun – with intro

The song Wernher von Braun, written well before 1964 and recorded to Ampex video in 1967, was originally published on The Tom Lehrer Wisdom Channel in July of 2007. The original 4:3-version is still on YouTube. This converted version is just an experiment, but if you watch this copy, you will get to hear Tom Lehrer’s spoken intro.

Try to click under the video window for higher playback quality or add &fmt=18 to the url to manually alter the playback resolution. It will not change too much though, because of the test conversion to wide screen.

To make this song even more spot on, Lehrer used eight bars from the well-known German national anthem “Das Lied der Deutschen” as a song intro :-)

Saturn’s moon Enceladus, new study


This video says about itself:

Warm Water Spots Found On Saturn’s Icy Moon Enceladus

12 March 2015

Astronomers have detected the first active hydrothermal vents outside of Earth’s seafloor on Saturn’s icy moon Enceladus, indicating conditions that could be hospitable to the initial development of life.

New research suggests the existence of warm spots on the ocean floor of Saturn’s icy moon Enceladus.

They could be the first active hydrothermal vents to be detected outside of Earth’s seafloor, and their conditions may even be similarly hospitable to the initial development of life.

Two studies, one led by the University of Colorado, Boulder and the other by the Southwest Research Institute in Texas, support the possible existence of this hydrothermal activity.

In 2005, the Cassini orbiter captured images of geysers shooting out of the moon’s surface, which led to the discovery of an underground sea believed to be approximately 6 miles deep and under about 25 miles of icy crust.

Scientists discovered particles from the geysers in one of Saturn’s rings and using an instrument onboard Cassini were able to analyze the tiny, uniform dust particles. They found they were rich in silica which is common on Earth but different from the usual ice crystals found in Saturn’s E-ring.

Because silica has such well-known properties, the only way they could create similar particles in the lab was using slightly alkaline, low-in-salinity water at temperatures of at least 194 degrees Fahrenheit.

Despite the ultra-cold environment, the moon’s high core temperature is thought to come from an effect called tidal heating where Saturn’s gravitational pull on the moon generates heat.

From the International Business Times:

On Saturn’s Moon Enceladus, Water Vapor Erupts In Giant Curtains: Study

By Avaneesh Pandey

May 08 2015 8:35 AM EDT

In 2005, NASA’s Cassini-Huygens spacecraft found evidence of an icy spray issuing from the southern polar region of Saturn’s sixth-largest moon, Enceladus. Now, just two months after scientists confirmed the presence of hydrothermal activity on the moon, researchers have claimed that the eruption of water vapor on its surface might be in the form of broad, curtain-like sheets, rather than discrete jets.

“We think most of the observed activity represents curtain eruptions from the ‘tiger stripe’ fractures, rather than intermittent geysers along them,” Joseph Spitale, a Cassini mission participating scientist and senior scientist at the Planetary Science Institute in Tucson, Arizona, said, in a statement, referring to prominent wavy fractures along the moon’s surface. “Some prominent jets likely are what they appear to be, but most of the activity seen in the images can be explained without discrete jets.”

According to a study published Thursday in the journal Nature, these “phantom jets” seen in simulated images produced by scientists line up perfectly with some of the features seen in real Cassini images. This means that the discrete geysers that scientists have observed on Enceladus are, in fact, an optical illusion created in places where these curtains fold against one another. This illusion is also responsible for creating regions of phantom brightness when viewers are looking through the folds of watery curtains.

“The viewing direction plays an important role in where the phantom jets appear,” Spitale said, in the statement. “If you rotate your perspective around Enceladus’ South Pole, such jets would seem to appear and disappear.”

On Earth, these curtain eruptions occur in regions of volcanic activity such as Hawaii, Iceland and the Galapagos Islands. However, unlike Enceladus’ watery curtains, these are curtains of fire.

Enceladus is believed to be covered with a layer of ice about 19 miles to 25 miles thick. Evidence strongly suggests that the moon harbors a six-mile-deep ocean, with temperatures reaching up to 194 degrees Fahrenheit below its thick, icy surface, making it a prime location to look for extraterrestrial life.

Planet Mercury craters named after Diego Rivera, Umm Kulthum, other artists


This video from the USA says about itself:

27 April 2015

The robotic spacecraft MESSENGER has run out of fuel. With no way to make major adjustments to its orbit around the planet Mercury, the probe will smash into the surface at more than 8,750 miles per hour (3.91 kilometers per second). The impact will add a new crater to the planet’s scarred face that engineers estimate will be as wide as 52 feet (16 meters).

From NASA in the USA:

April 29, 2015

Mercury Crater-Naming Contest Winners Announced

The MESSENGER Education and Public Outreach (EPO) Team, coordinated through the Carnegie Institution for Science, announces the winning names from its competition to name five impact craters on Mercury. The contest submissions had to be submitted by January 15, 2015, and the International Astronomical Union (IAU) — the governing body of planetary and satellite nomenclature since 1919 — made the selections from a semi-final submission of 17 artists’ names. The newly selected crater names are Carolan, Enheduanna, Karsh, Kulthum, and Rivera.

Under IAU rules, all new craters on Mercury must be named after an artist, composer, or writer who was famous for more than 50 years and has been dead for more than three years.

Turlough O’Carolan (Carolan), was an Irish composer during the late 1600s and early 1700s.

This music video features Turlough O’Carolan’s composition Planxty Irwin.

Enheduanna, an Akkadian princess who lived in the Sumerian city of Ur in ancient Mesopotamia (today’s Iraq and Kuwait), and is regarded by many scholars as possibly the earliest known author and poet.

This video is about Enheduanna.

Yousuf Karsh, was an Armenian/Canadian and one of the greatest portrait photographers of the twentieth century.

This video is called Profile of Photographer Yousuf Karsh.

Umm Kulthum, was an Egyptian singer, songwriter, and film actress of the 1920s to the 1970s.

This music video is called Umm Kulthum ( أم كلثوم ) live; “Enta Omri” (English subtitles). At the Olympia Théâtre in Paris, November 1967.

Diego Rivera, was a prominent Mexican painter and muralist from the 1920s to the 1950s.

This video is called Tribute to Diego Rivera.

NASA’s MESSENGER spacecraft has been in orbit about Mercury since March 2011 and is due to finally impact the planet tomorrow. The MESSENGER spacecraft has far surpassed expectations in the duration of the mission and in the quantity and quality of data returned. The original goal of the craft was to take 2,500 images of the planet, but is has returned more than 250,000. The EPO team organized the crater-naming competition to celebrate the mission’s achievements.

The winners come from many different countries. Carolan was suggested by Fergal Donnelly (Belgium), Joseph Brusseau (USA), and Reane Morrison (USA). Enheduanna was submitted by Gagan Toor (India). Karsh was submitted by Elizabeth Freeman Rosenzweig (USA). Kulthum was suggested by Malouk Ba-Isa (Saudi Arabia), Riana Rakotoarimanan (Switzerland), Yehya Hassouna (USA), David Suttles (USA), Thorayya Said Giovanelli (USA), and Matt Giovanelli (USA). Rivera was suggested by Ricardo Martinez (Mexico), Rebecca Hare (USA), Arturo Gutierrez (Mexico), and Jose Martinez (USA).

Julie Edmonds, the EPO team leader at the Carnegie Institution for Science, remarked, “The IAU working group that chose the names was very happy with the submissions. In all we had 3,600 contest entries, a resounding success for the excitement that the MESSENGER mission to Mercury has generated.”

Final Maneuver Extends MESSENGER Operations by One More Orbit

MESSENGER mission controllers at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Md., conducted a maneuver on April 28 designed to raise the spacecraft’s minimum altitude sufficiently to ensure impact onto Mercury during the desired orbit when full coverage by NASA’s Deep Space Network (DSN) scheduled.

The previous maneuver, completed on April 24, raised MESSENGER’s minimum altitude from 8.3 kilometers (5.2 miles) to 18.2 kilometers (11.3 miles) above the planet’s surface. Because of progressive changes to the orbit over time, however, the spacecraft’s minimum altitude continued to decrease.

At the time of this most recent maneuver, MESSENGER was in an orbit with a closest approach of 5.3 kilometers (3.3 miles) above the surface of Mercury. With a velocity change of 0.45 meters per second (1 mile per hour), the spacecraft’s four largest monopropellant thrusters released gaseous helium pressurant to nudge the spacecraft to an orbit with a closest approach altitude of 6.3 kilometers (3.9 miles).

This maneuver also increased the spacecraft’s speed relative to Mercury near the maximum distance from Mercury, adding about 3.5 seconds to the spacecraft’s eight-hour, 21.2-minute orbit period. The final maneuver in the MESSENGER low-altitude hover campaign, this was the mission’s fourth course-correction maneuver to use the helium gas pressurant as a propellant to change the spacecraft’s orbit. This view shows MESSENGER’s orientation at the start of the maneuver.

MESSENGER was 155.2 million kilometers (96.5 million miles) from Earth when the 3.02-minute maneuver began at about 5:20 p.m. EDT. Mission controllers at APL verified the start of the maneuver 8.6 minutes later, after the first signals indicating spacecraft thruster activity reached NASA’s DSN tracking station in Goldstone, California.

MESSENGER (MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging) is a NASA-sponsored scientific investigation of the planet Mercury and the first space mission designed to orbit the planet closest to the Sun. The MESSENGER spacecraft was launched on August 3, 2004, and entered orbit about Mercury on March 18, 2011, to begin a yearlong study of its target planet. MESSENGER’s first extended mission began on March 18, 2012, and ended one year later. MESSENGER is now in a second extended mission, which is scheduled to operate through April 2015.

Dinosaurs, humans, sun and earth, medieval religious dogmas in Spain


This video says about itself:

Dinosaurs, and Creationism Debunked

1 March 2015

To believe that non-avian dinosaurs exist today or have ever existed with mankind is to show the highest level of ignorance in history, archaeology, and paleontology. This is my debunking of a creationist video that says dinosaurs once existed with man and that there is evidence for this in history.

From daily The Independent in Britain today:

One in three Spaniards thinks humans lived at the same time as dinosaurs

Today in worrying news, 30 per cent of people in Spain think humans lived at the same time as dinosaurs.

A government-backed study also showed 25 per cent of respondents think the Sun orbits the Earth.

One positive to take from the Social Perception of Science study, from Spain’s Foundation for Science and Technology, is that at least scientific knowledge is improving in the country – in 2006 the proportion of people believing the previous two incorrect assertions was 50 per cent for dinosaurs and 40 per cent for the Sun.

Overall, nine years ago people answered 58 per cent of questions correctly, while now the ratio is 70 per cent.

This video says about itself:

Testing Geocentrism

15 November 2012

… a series on geocentrism, these videos take a wry look at the subject and how it stacks up against basic observations. This part [1] looks at whether the geocentrist explanation of the seasons holds any merit, why Polaris doesn’t move and how basic observations of the inner and outer planets hold up to the ideas of the geocentrist. A simple introduction is given to relevant concepts, providing topic pointers for the viewer who wants to find out more for themselves.

Subtitles: English
Guidance: Contains some mild language within a comedy context.

* I noticed after completing this video that the introduction should have said “Over two thousand years after Aristarchus” not “Nearly one thousand”.

Lyrid meteor shower tomorrow


This video from the USA says about itself:

How to View a Meteor Shower | California Academy of Sciences

30 December 2014

Here are some fun tips for observing the upcoming meteor shower, brought to you by the California Academy of Sciences.

The California Academy of Sciences writes about this today:

On any given night, meteors can be seen as tiny particles of space dust burn up in Earth’s atmosphere. Don’t miss the next major meteor shower, the Lyrids, peaking tomorrow, April 22. Watch this helpful video to brush up on your meteor-spotting skills!