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Low Latency No. 91: Hurricane Morpheus heads to your living room

Jeff has been at CNET for more than five years covering games, tech, and pop culture. When he’s not playing ice hockey or pinball, you can catch him live every day as the host of CNET’s infamous daily show, The 404 Show and every Friday in CNET’s first-ever tech comic, Low Latency.

Article source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/cnet/pRza/~3/a6Z0NPE0zJE/

Low Latency No. 91: Hurricane Morpheus headed to your living room

Jeff has been at CNET for more than five years covering games, tech, and pop culture. When he’s not playing ice hockey or pinball, you can catch him live every day as the host of CNET’s infamous daily show, The 404 Show and every Friday in CNET’s first-ever tech comic, Low Latency.

Article source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/cnet/pRza/~3/SGJS_qJqyoE/

Interview: London Evening Standard

Leto has made his entrance tonight in a black hooded coat, wielding a baseball bat; more LA drugs dealer than the politically engaged figure in an oversized bow tie he cut at the Oscars. With suitable drama, he throws off the jacket to expose the full glory of his rock Jesus look — shades, man-leggings, tunic skirt, sleeveless T-shirt — whereupon he unleashes his power-vocals on to his fans for two adrenaline-fuelled hours: jumping, grinding, sprinting and simultaneously flirting with what feels like every single member of the crowd. ‘I don’t dive into the mosh pit any more,’ he whispers to me on a break. ‘It’s the fastest way to lose your penis. And I’m proud to say mine is still intact.’

The show is part full-on rock extravaganza, part interactive Leto comedy routine. ‘Hey you,’ he cries into his mic. ‘Great mullet, man. That’s my next haircut. Business at the front. Party at the back.’ This culminates with a stage invasion and a mass selfie, his second of the week: the 42-year-old in a huddle of ecstatic Scandi teens.

It is curious, to some, that Hollywood’s man of the moment would disappear off in the vital afterglow of his Best Supporting Actor win to revel so intimately with the global masses. But then Leto doesn’t follow protocol. Six years before his return to film as Rayon, an HIV-positive, pre-operative transwoman in Dallas Buyers Club, he walked away from Hollywood to tour with his band despite consistent critical acclaim for his gritty, transformative roles. Leto has eschewed the blockbuster juggernaut to success in favour of the slow train, via occasional, challenging roles in the likes of Requiem for a DreamFight Cluband Panic Room. Plus, he has other commitments. He is not only a method actor and singer-songwriter, but a video and documentary producer-director, photographer, painter, businessman and activist. ‘I just follow my gut — as Andy Warhol said, “Labels are for cans not people,” ’ he tells me after the gig.

All this makes Leto a very busy man. After partying all night at the Oscars (‘It was pretty f***ing fantastic to see all those Hollywood dreamers letting loose with such abandon. I looked over and my mother was dancing with Madonna’), and taking a hangover hike to Malibu, he flew to Paris for meetings, the Miu Miu fashion show and more fun: his close friend the photographer Terry Richardson was in town and shot him for this magazine before Leto attended an obscure music awards in Finland, his every word and move pounced on by the global media.

Finally, at 1am, I am whisked past a line of deflated-looking groupies into his dressing room. They eye me up along the corridor, turning a pale shade of green.

‘I’m starting to come down off the week-long pink-cloud high now,’ he tells me, dishing me up some of his tomato soup and a vegetable curry (he is vegan). I can confirm that there is no beer backstage. And I’m a little disappointed that he’s come down from jacked-up flirting mode. Tonight Leto is more business at the front, party at the back.

We start sensible: he doesn’t seem the type, I say, to care about Hollywood accolades. ‘I don’t.’ He slumps down on a black leather sofa. ‘But I would never say, “I don’t give a shit about the Oscars,” because it’s not the whole truth. It’s not about the shiny, naked golden man, or the pat on the back, it’s about being able to stand on a world stage for two minutes in front of a billion people and say something that is meaningful, important to you.’ Leto name-checked his older brother, best friend and bandmate 44-year-old Shannon, his single mum, AIDS victims, outsiders in general, and those fighting for their dreams in Venezuela and Ukraine. ‘I could have really taken the piss. But I didn’t want to wing it with this one. I prepared. I wanted to keep it classy.’ By contrast, at the Independent Spirit Awards, he poked fun at the rumours that constantly trail him: by reputation he is a legendary lothario, recently linked with Lupita Nyong’o, Miley Cyrus and his ex-girlfriend Scarlett Johansson. He thanked ‘all the women I’ve been with, and all the women who think they’ve been with me’ as well as his ‘future ex-wife Lupita’. He tweeted selfies of the pair together in Paris, presumably to cause a stir. It has since been confirmed that they are not, in fact, dating.

At the Golden Globes he shared with Hollywood’s finest that he had waxed his entire body to play Rayon, but stopped short of a Brazilian and had not used prosthetics. What did he do with his male appendage, I ask now — strap it back? ‘A girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do. But, let’s just say, there are times when you’re not as prepared as you’d like to be…’ he answers cryptically, raising an eyebrow.

Leto seems to flit between composed, pale blue-eyed earnestness and cheeky provocation. ‘I thought about dragging up for the Oscars, going as Rayon, because I knew that she would have loved to be there,’ he says. ‘It’s so much work for girls to get ready. I was brought up by my mum, so I always had an appreciation of women. But now I have more respect for the process. It’s a lot, what women have to do to themselves. But in the end, when you put that final dash of lipstick on and your look all comes together, it really is a glorious reward.’

His sassy, fragile and very human portrayal of Rayon — ‘a hot mess’, as he calls her — and his thoughtful acceptance speech made Leto the true hero of Oscars night. The industry seems to have fallen for a man who, by playing the basic principles of hard-to-get, cannot be fully seduced by it. Robert Redford, Harrison Ford, Oprah Winfrey all approached him with open arms on the night, Stevie Nicks gave him the necklace he is now wearing, Al Pacino has since ‘reached out’ — they are due to meet for coffee — and there have been several calls from the White House. ‘There are some exciting proposals. But I don’t know how much more I’m allowed to say. I probably need to clear it with the CIA first.’ Leto is a vociferous Obama supporter and raised funds for the 2008 re-election campaign. He has protested against California’s Proposition 8, which aimed to overturn same-sex marriage, and raised money for Haitian Relief as well as human rights and environmental charities.

I wonder if he is considering another career, in politics. ‘My mum was a teenager when she had us; she used food stamps to feed us, she got helped by social services to go back to school and train as a nurse to try to give her kids some stability. So if I can help or be of service in any way…’ he says. ‘But you know what? I’m too impatient. I’d probably swear in a speech. As George Clooney says, “I’ve f***ed too many chicks and done too many drugs to be in politics.” ’

It’s hard to reconcile Leto the wild front man with the committed method actor who performs extreme feats of self-remoulding in order to morph into his dark, outsider roles. The road to this is more lonely and torturous. During filming for Dallas Buyers Club, Leto only ever appeared on set as Rayon, not ‘meeting’ his co-star Matthew McConaughey or the other actors until after they had wrapped. He even donned lipstick and a pink fluffy jumper and flirted his arse off for his first Skype meeting with director Jean-Marc Vallée. ‘Maybe if I was making romantic comedies, there’d be more immediate silliness, more hanging out in each other’s trailers,’ he tells me. ‘I’ve never really had the kind of joy I experience with the band on set, but then I’m not really looking for that.’

Leto likens his process to ‘being a sculptor’. He lost two stone, lived rough on the streets and abstained from sex with his then girlfriend Cameron Diaz to become the drug-addicted Harry Goldfarb in Requiem for a Dream in 2000. He force-fed himself into obesity, putting on five stone to accurately portray John Lennon’s killer Mark David Chapman in Chapter 27 in 2007, for which he eventually suffered gout and was temporarily confined to a wheelchair (take that, Shia LaBeouf). In Mr Nobody, he underwent six hours of make-up to play a decrepit 118-year-old. Like his character Angel Face in Fight Club, who is happily freed from the prison of handsomeness when he is beaten to a pulp and permanently disfigured, Leto appears to make an effort to mask the pretty-boy looks for which, in 1994, he was cast in teen series My So-Called Life. But there is more to this, I say, something self-destructive…

‘All my roles are masochistic or… sadistic.’ His eyes flash with naughtiness. ‘Is that going to be your headline? “Jared Leto: masochist or sadist? You decide.” ’ The sexual edges of this theme can be found in his music. The SM-themed video for ‘Hurricane’, which he directed in 2007, was censored by MTV, and in ‘End of All Days’, on his new album Love Lust Faith + Dreams, he sings: ‘I punish you with pleasure, I pleasure you with pain…’

‘I have very strong self-control. There is something very seductive about it,’ he admits when we discuss his crash, three-stone weight loss for Rayon, during which the slight actor virtually stopped eating. (He used to go to the supermarket just to stare at the food.) ‘I got to understand the mentality of an eating disorder. There are the highs of losing more weight; there’s a rush of endorphins associated with that control. When you have made a severe commitment to losing weight, there is a lot of shame and guilt around eating again. I really suffered that, it’s not a nice feeling…’ But Leto found solace in self-exploration. ‘The process can be very monk-like — there is a history of people who have fasted to achieve enlightenment. There is something in that, getting to know who you are. It changed me.’

I ask him if it was easier to get into the feminine headspace because he was so close to his mum growing up. Was there already a dash of oestrogen in him? ‘Oestrogen?’ He laughs, a little offended. ‘I guess you haven’t heard all the rumours… No, I became a detective, I met with transgendered people, I asked questions: “What was it like to tell your parents?” “What’s it like to be judged?” ’ He experienced this when he first dragged-up and went into Whole Foods. ‘You don’t have to desire the surgery to have your penis cut off, but you do have to understand it. We all have issues with our identity, or know what it’s like not to belong.’

Leto grew up an outsider. His father left after he was born, and Leto never saw him again. (He committed suicide when Leto was eight.) Leto’s teenage mother and the boys eventually fled Louisiana, where they lived with her Cajun parents in a one-bedroom house, to join the hippie movement. They lived in communes, mixed with artists and musicians, and moved around a lot — from Wyoming to Virginia, Colorado, Alaska, Brazil and Haiti — constantly having to make new friends and reinvent themselves. It’s hard to pin Leto down on all of this. He prefers to keep an air of apocryphal mystique. At one point, when we talk about his forefathers, he says that most of his family ‘were probably all in prison’.

Leto grew up wanting to be either a drugs dealer or an artist. At 16, he dropped out of school, before returning to another in Washington. The Leto boys were wild and unruly; they dabbled with drugs, broke into offices and warehouses to steal booze and motorbikes: ‘Other kids went to summer camp; we stole your car.’ Leto steered himself out of the nosedive when he got into college in Philadelphia to study art, and later on to a film course at the School of Visual Arts in New York. The creative focus was his salvation. Meanwhile, Shannon descended further into drug addiction, car-jacking and trouble with the police — the kind of downward spiral that Leto brutally documents in Requiem for a Dream.

But when he moved to LA to pursue a career in music (he says acting was merely a day job to pay the rent), Shannon joined him and they formed the band in 1998. ‘Music saved his life. It was either that or prison. It saved both of us really. Shannon started drumming on pots and pans from an early age; I played a broken, second-hand piano.’

Life on the road with his brother is, after all, what Leto grew up with; it satisfies his constant need for adventure, newness, change. (Thirty Seconds to Mars recently set a Guinness World Record for the most tour dates, 309, on one album cycle.)

Now in his forties, Leto still looks and acts at least a decade younger. There are no plans to stop touring now that, after years of graft, the band has achieved global recognition: Love Lust Faith + Dreams has sold ten million copies and their shows are mainly sold out. ‘We don’t give a shit about our ages. We’re not worrying about that. There are no rules,’ he tells me. And what if he met some girl he wanted to settle down with? ‘Then she’d better have a passport… look at the Rolling Stones, they just keep on going. Maybe me and my brother will be shaking it up there in our sixties. Who knows? Or maybe I’ll just walk away.’

He is even more freewheeling about his future film plans. He’d like to direct a long-form narrative, he says. He has already won multiple MTV awards for Thirty Seconds to Mars’ videos, and a People’s Choice Award at Toronto Film Festival for his 2012 documentary Artifact. This charted the creation of the band’s album This is War and their battle in 2008 with their record label EMI, which sued them for $30 million following a dispute over royalties when, after a tour and successful album, the band found themselves millions of dollars in debt. (The case was eventually dropped.)

For now, however, Leto’s eye is set firmly on his tour schedule. His devotion to his band is almost religious. Next up is Russia, followed by Ukraine. ‘I read that they censored my speech in Russia. They cut what I said about Ukraine. But I’m fully intending to sing ‘This is War’ there.’ Leto usually accompanies the song’s lyrics ‘To fight, to fight, to fight!’ with rampant flag-waving and air fist-pumping. ‘Shit could go down. We’ve already heard some things on the ground that are concerning. Through the band, we are really engaged with young voices all over the world through our social network feeds. I’ve learned so much travelling the world these past six years, it’s changed me. It’s made me a better actor…’

More than anything, Leto is fighting exhaustion now. His eyes are glassy, like marbles, and slowly starting to shut. He only has a few hours to pack and get on a flight to Belarus. He reverts to his humble Academy Awards speech mode, and thanks me for the interview. ‘I’m sorry but I really need to crash,’ he croaks gently.

It looks like Jared Leto’s Oscars week has officially come to an end.

Article source: http://jaredleto.com/thisiswhoireallyam/2014/03/20/interview-london-evening-standard/

Snakes invade casino? Ask the social-media lie detector

February 21st, 2014 No comments


(Credit:
CNET)

Remember when a shark swam through the streets of New Jersey during Hurricane Sandy? Actually, it didn’t. But wouldn’t it have been handy to have been able to check the veracity of those Garden State shark reports without going through the office of Gov. Chris Christie?

An international group of researchers funded by the EU is working on a lie detector for social media that could make it easier to separate online truth from lies and the lying liars who tell them (apologies to Al Franken).

Named Pheme after a Greek mythological figure who “pried into the affairs of mortals and gods, then repeated what she learned, starting off at first with just a dull whisper, but repeating it louder each time, until everyone knew,” the system will collate a variety of data to assess in real time how likely it really is that a baby mermaid was just born in the Philippines or snakes invaded a Pennsylvania casino.

Pheme will, for example, gauge the authority of sources such as news outlets, individual journalists, alleged experts, potential eyewitnesses, and automated bots. It will take into account the past histories of social-media accounts to help spot those that have spread false rumors in the past. And it will search for sources that corroborate or deny a given piece of information and plot how conversations about the topic evolve on social networks.

The results will focus on the quality of the information, unlike similar analytics tools that focus more on language. Software out of Israel, for instance, scours online text for words, phrases, and even metaphors that might indicate depression.

The Pheme results will be displayed in a visual dashboard that should at least give some sense, if not a definitive ruling, of where a rumor falls on the pure-poppycock-to-totally-true scale.

“We can already handle many of the challenges involved [on the Internet], such as the sheer volume of information in social networks, the speed at which it appears and the variety of forms, from tweets, to videos, pictures and blog posts,” Kalina Bontcheva, a researcher from the University of Sheffield’s Department of Computer Science, said in a statement. “But it’s currently not possible to automatically analyze, in real time, whether a piece of information is true or false and this is what we’ve now set out to achieve.”

Not all rumors created equal
According to the University of Sheffield, Pheme will classify online rumors into four types: speculation — such as whether interest rates might rise; controversy — as over the MMR vaccine; misinformation, where something untrue is spread unwittingly; and disinformation, where falsehoods are disseminated with malicious intent.

There are definitely categories missing here, like April Fools’ Day falsehoods spread with humorous intent, and “Star Wars” casting rumors. But of course not all online rumors are light entertainment or the harmless sort of speculation that long precedes any iPhone or Samsung Galaxy launch. Sometimes rumors can have a real impact, as with fake announcements of people’s deaths and doctored storm-related images that can seriously scare an already-jumpy city.

Pheme will cost an estimated 3.5 million British pounds (around $5.8 million) and evolve over the course of three years, being tested during that time both by the online arm of the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation, and the Institute of Psychiatry at King’s College London, a collaborator in the project. There, researchers plan to investigate online discourse about recreational drugs, mental-health concerns, and teenage self-harm and how those discussions translate to patients’ real-life behavior.

In addition to Sheffield and King’s College London, other universities participating in Pheme include Saarland in Germany, Modul University Vienna, and the UK’s University of Warwick, where a professor worked with the London School of Economics and The Guardian’s interactive team to manually analyze the spread of rumors on Twitter during the 2011 London riots.

And while you’re waiting for Pheme to appear, there’s always Snopes — and common sense.

This image, which purported to show Hurricane Sandy menacing New York, is actually a composite of a picture of a tornado storm cell in Nebraska and one of the Statue of Liberty, according to Snopes.com.


(Credit:
Snopes.com)

Article source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/cnet/pRza/~3/RO2TSkdMRIE/

Saturn’s polar vortex makes this winter look like a trip to Fiji

February 4th, 2014 No comments

Saturn’s insane hexagonal polar vortex.


(Credit:
NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute)

This year’s notorious polar vortex caused plenty of cold, pain, and suffering for folks across the continent (and allowed Northerners the opportunity to chuckle at the 2-inch snowpocalypse that brought Atlanta to its knees), but that’s small snowflakes compared with the rest of our solar system, Saturn in particular.

NASA released the above image of Saturn’s remarkable hexagonal polar jet stream on Monday, although it was taken by the Cassini spacecraft from its position 1.6 million miles above the ringed planet in November of last year.


A strange swirling hexagon. (Click to enlarge.)


(Credit:
NASA)

We’ve known about this crazy phenomenon for some time, but the position of Saturn with relation to the sun and Cassini’s orientation has allowed higher-resolution photos to be taken in recent months.

Zoom in on this strange weather feature and you’ll see that there’s quite literally a polar vortex in its center, with a massive hurricane sitting right on top of the planet’s north pole. NASA estimates the eye of this storm to be about 50 times larger than the average eye of an Earth hurricane.

Moving out from the center, the literal polar vortex is surrounded by numerous other spinning vortices, the largest of which is over 2,000 miles wide. As for the winds generated by these storms, they’re fastest at the inner ring, with speeds of about 340 mph. That’s one heck of a superstorm.

To human eyes, the hexagon and north pole would appear in tones of gold and blue.

There is the potential for payoff on a planet with an atmosphere that can be so unrelentingly violent, however — if you believe the hypothesis that the high pressures found on Saturn could literally cause it to hail diamonds on the planet.

I bet few people in Atlanta would be complaining if that’s how the recent weather-created traffic snarl ended — with a rain of diamonds onto windshields.

Article source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/cnet/pRza/~3/W8SlUwLD1-M/

Saturn’s polar vortex makes this winter look like a trip to Fiji

February 4th, 2014 No comments

Saturn’s insane hexagonal polar vortex.


(Credit:
NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute)

This year’s notorious polar vortex caused plenty of cold, pain, and suffering for folks across the continent (and allowed Northerners the opportunity to chuckle at the 2-inch snowpocalypse that brought Atlanta to its knees), but that’s small snowflakes compared with the rest of our solar system, Saturn in particular.

NASA released the above image of Saturn’s remarkable hexagonal polar jet stream on Monday, although it was taken by the Cassini spacecraft from its position 1.6 million miles above the ringed planet in November of last year.


A strange swirling hexagon. (Click to enlarge.)


(Credit:
NASA)

We’ve known about this crazy phenomenon for some time, but the position of Saturn with relation to the sun and Cassini’s orientation has allowed higher-resolution photos to be taken in recent months.

Zoom in on this strange weather feature and you’ll see that there’s quite literally a polar vortex in its center, with a massive hurricane sitting right on top of the planet’s north pole. NASA estimates the eye of this storm to be about 50 times larger than the average eye of an Earth hurricane.

Moving out from the center, the literal polar vortex is surrounded by numerous other spinning vortices, the largest of which is over 2,000 miles wide. As for the winds generated by these storms, they’re fastest at the inner ring, with speeds of about 340 mph. That’s one heck of a superstorm.

To human eyes, the hexagon and north pole would appear in tones of gold and blue.

There is the potential for payoff on a planet with an atmosphere that can be so unrelentingly violent, however — if you believe the hypothesis that the high pressures found on Saturn could literally cause it to hail diamonds on the planet.

I bet few people in Atlanta would be complaining if that’s how the recent weather-created traffic snarl ended — with a rain of diamonds onto windshields.

Article source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/cnet/pRza/~3/W8SlUwLD1-M/

Don’t loan your iPhone to people in these states

December 16th, 2013 No comments

iPhone

Your warranty might not cover this mishap.


(Credit:
Video screenshot by Amanda Kooser/CNET)

Capitol Hill is surrounded by what might be called the “capital spill zone,” at least according to data (and a requisite corresponding infographic, of course) released by gadget warranty outfit SquareTrade Monday.

This is the second year in a row the company has broken down the total number of iPhone damage claims in comparison with total protection plans it sold by state to draft its “clumsiest states” list. This year, the most dangerous place in the United States to be an iPhone isn’t actually a state. It’s that bright, shining center of our democracy: Washington.

Of course, given that Congress’ approval ratings spent much of 2013 at historic lows, it could also be argued that the town is more known for being full of slime than anything else, which could lead to an increased level of general slipperiness that’s boosted the number of smartphone drops and other mishaps.

Or, as SquareTrade suggests, perhaps the capital rocketing to the top of the ranking has something to do with the success of its sports teams in the past year — it claims 23 million Americans have damaged devices during sporting events.

Interestingly, only two states — Georgia and Louisiana — are on the list for both 2012 and 2013, suggesting that, really, we’re all equally clumsy regardless of our geography. After all, my state — New Mexico — was No. 2 on last year’s list before completely dropping off it this year. While I’ve done no scientific studies of iPhone droppage, I can assure you New Mexicans are no less clumsy now than we were last year, and I actually put one more smartphone through a wash, rinse, and spin cycle in 2013 than I did in 2012.

SquareTrade does suggest at least one event that happened during the data period (which actually runs from from last fall to this fall) that could have impacted the rankings — Hurricane Sandy. The superstorm largely impacted New Jersey and New York, which both make their first appearances on the list.

After Washington, DC, the nine other most dangerous places to be an iPhone are (in order): Florida, Georgia, New Jersey, Utah, Texas, New York, California, Louisiana, and Wyoming.

Get more details on the data in the infographic below, and then share your iPhone accident story in the comments section.


Where does your state fall in the clumsiness rankings? (Click to enlarge.)


(Credit:
SquareTrade)

Article source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/cnet/pRza/~3/x-KdNGYlVDE/

Massive asteroid to hit Earth in 2032? (Well, maybe)

October 18th, 2013 No comments

It’s out there, somewhere.


(Credit:
Matthew Reo/YouTube Screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET)

I know from all the financial ads on TV that you like to plan your portfolio well in advance.

Might I therefore suggest that you keep a vast stack of money for the vacation of several lifetimes in the early summer of 2032?

You see, I don’t want to alarm you excessively, but the world might end in August 2032.

Yes, the chances are small — perhaps 1 in 63,000. But, as they say in lottery ads, you never know.

My mildly alarmist tone comes from hearing that scientists at the Crimean Astrophysical Observatory in the Ukraine have spotted a rather large asteroid.

As Russia’s RIA Novosti observed it, this menacing object is more than 1,300 feet wide and packs within it the power of 2,500 megatons of TNT. It is, indeed, the sumo wrestler of asteroids. And it’s headed our way.

It’s already got a name: 2013 TV 135. This seems a little disappointing. Why can’t we name asteroids like hurricanes? Why can’t this be Asteroid Annie? Why not Asteroid Spumante? Or, at the very least, The Big One?

The existence of this particular asteroid has already been confirmed by star-gazing experts around the world, and it is officially described as “potentially hazardous.”

But, most importantly, what does NASA think? I had feared that its Web site would take a little time to lurch into action after the government shutdown.

Just one look, though, confirmed that NASA is on top of this threat. In a post headlined “Asteroid 2013 TV135 – A Reality Check,” NASA admitted that 2013 TV135 “could be back in Earth’s neighborhood in 2032.”

But, then, so could Sir Richard Branson.

NASA confirmed the analysis that there is a 1-in-63,000 chance that this thing might hit us and hit us hard. That seems, at least, more chance than a Miami Marlins World Series win or a Jacksonville Jaguars Super Bowl win.

However, Don Yeomans, manager of NASA’s Near-Earth Object Program Office at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., insists: “This is a relatively new discovery. With more observations, I fully expect we will be able to significantly reduce, or rule out entirely, any impact probability for the foreseeable future.”

Scientists always say that in the movies, before some Scientologist actor has to save the world.

The asteroid’s current orbit.


(Credit:
NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Article source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/cnet/pRza/~3/oHSS5On9EX8/

Feast your eyes on this gorgeous view of Saturn

October 18th, 2013 No comments

Saturn mosaic

Lord of the rings: This mosaic shows the view from above Saturn.


(Credit:

NASA / JPL / Space Science Institute / Gordan Ugarkovic
)

Looking for a new desktop pic? Look no further.

NASA’s Cassini spacecraft continues to astound by exploring Saturn’s rings, finding household chemicals, and snapping photos of Earth from 900 million miles away.

One of its latest feats is this incredible view of Saturn, shot from high above its north pole.

Gordan Ugarkovic, who is described by NASA as an “amateur image processor and Cassini fan,” assembled the image from photos taken by Cassini earlier this month.

If you look closely, you can see that Saturn’s north pole exhibits a bizarre hexagonal cloud pattern, a unique feature that was first spotted by Voyager flybys.

Centering on a raging polar hurricane with 300mph winds, the structure is nearly 15,000 miles across, almost big enough to fit four Earths inside.

The composite image from above the milky, ringed world was based on shots using various filters to approximate true color. Ugarkovic processed the raw files and weaved them into a mosaic.

“This image has not been geometrically corrected for shifts in the spacecraft perspective and still has some camera artifacts,” NASA notes on its posting of Ugarkovic’s image. “The mosaic was created from 12 image footprints with red, blue and green filters from Cassini’s imaging science subsystem. Ugarkovic used full color sets for 11 of the footprints and red and blue images for one footprint.”

Earth photographed from 900 million miles away (pictures)

The image clearly shows Saturn’s large B ring in the middle, separated from the outside A ring by the Cassini Division, as well as a massive shadow cast by the planet.

An international project by NASA, the European Space Agency, and the Italian Space Agency, the Cassini-Huygens mission was launched in 1997 and first orbited Saturn in 2004, later putting a lander on Saturn’s largest moon, Titan.

Check out some stunning Saturn and Earth imagery from Cassini in the gallery above. You can also download a full resolution copy of Ugarkovic’s image here.

(Via Slate)

Article source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/cnet/pRza/~3/1Dd7agWoTOU/

One (alleged) cause of climate change you’ve never heard of

October 3rd, 2013 No comments

Did messing with the surface of the moon mess with Earth’s climate?


(Credit:
NASA)

Last week, the latest IPCC report on climate change said it’s “extremely likely” that humans are to blame for our warming planet, which has been playing host to increasingly freaky and extreme weather in recent years.

The evidence in the report is convincing, but doesn’t answer the next logical question: specifically, which humans are to blame?

Before you go shouting about coal-fired power plants and the Americans and the Indians and the Chinese, let me clarify the question even further. Who are the actual individual people that set into motion a chain of events that has led to melting permafrost, epic hurricanes, and the past really disturbing year here in the Rocky Mountains, where we’ve been plagued by wildfires followed by floods.

I mean seriously, WTF?! Who’s responsible here? I want names!

It wasn’t until this weekend, when I was reporting on one NASA scientist’s notion to slam a used asteroid into the moon after we’re done studying it, that my memory was jogged and I realized that I may be one of the few people able to provide such a list.

The Koyukuk River, viewed from Huslia.


(Credit:
University of Alaska-Fairbanks)

Ten years ago, I was living in a tiny village on Alaska’s Yukon River. In May of 2003, I was invited to a workshop in a nearby village named Huslia that sits just below the Arctic Circle on the winding Koyukuk River. In attendance were climate scientists from the University of Alaska, as well as local Native Alaskan elders and youth. The idea was to record the traditional knowledge and observations of elders and other locals with regards to the changing weather patterns over the decades.

Much of what we heard that day falls in line with scientific evidence and other observations reported around the world, except one thing.

A lunar cause?
“It all started when they put a man on the moon,” declared one of the elders at the workshop when the dialogue turned to possible causes of climate change.

Other elders echoed this belief that climate change was somehow linked to the 1969 moon landing and subsequent Apollo missions to our satellite without the slightest bit of irony or humor.

I remember writing the word “moon???” in my notes and then looking up and around the room at the nodding heads of other local elders and the bewildered looks on the faces of the other outsiders and academics in the room.

As it turns out, a respected leader had prophesied back in the late 1960s and early 1970s that major social and environmental change would be one of the direct consequences of humans setting foot on the moon.

Before you think about snickering, please consider that there would have been little contemporary climate science knowledge available at that time in a remote Arctic subsistence village, and that such a prediction actually makes a lot of sense within the context of the traditional Koyukon (a general term for the Athabascan Native Alaskans of the area) worldview. Not to mention the fact that, well, dude was right — at least in terms of what happened in the decades that followed the Apollo program.

Permafrost is melting, animal migration patterns are changing, and summer wildfires are a major nuisance these days in Alaska. One elder I interviewed during my time there lamented the fact he “hasn’t seen a 90 below day in decades.” (These are the kind of things that people who are tougher than you or I are often heard to say — a toughness driven home by the unmistakable tone of melancholy that accompanied the statement.)

So, to answer the question scrawled in my notes that day, why the moon?

Here’s how some of the academics that were also in attendance the same day as myself would later explain the belief in an Apollo Mission-Climate Change link in the journal Ecology and Society:

The moon has considerable power and significance in Koyukon cosmology. Tampering with the moon in the form of lunar space landings was disrespectful and inappropriate and could only lead to negative repercussions… Indeed, the moon landings have a symbolic role, too, in relation to humankind’s pursuit of technological and other forms of progress without careful consideration of the consequences: landing on the moon was a boastful and arrogant thing to do to another spirit.

The authors, some of whom were raised in or around Huslia, also suggest that bringing up the supposed link between the moon landing and climate change could have served as a sort of test for the visiting researchers and outsiders like myself. It may not have been meant to be taken completely at face value, but instead as a way of gauging the open-mindedness of the visitors to the differences between the Native worldview and more scientific explanations.

Interestingly, it seems that with the latest IPCC report’s strong assertion that humans have contributed to climate change, science could actually be catching up to the traditional knowledge that residents of Huslia have held for decades.

Only difference is that the elders can point to specific human contributors. You probably know two of them. Their names are Neal and Buzz.

Article source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/cnet/pRza/~3/6kDDhCx4czY/