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Massive black hole discovered in nearby galaxy

In Uncategorized on January 12, 2011 at 7:09 am

US astronomers have discovered a huge black hole, a million times the mass of the sun, in a nearby galaxy — a finding that could help better understand the origins of the universe.

The announcement Monday by the American Astronomical Society said the surprise discovery in a so-called “dwarf” galaxy offers evidence that black holes — regions of space where not even light can escape — formed before the buildup of galaxies.

“This galaxy gives us important clues about a very early phase of galaxy evolution that has not been observed before,” said Amy Reines, a researcher at the University of Virginia who presented the findings to the AAS annual meeting.

This undated NASA image shows the dwarf galaxy Henize 2-10, seen in visible light by the Hubble Space Telescope

The galaxy, called Henize 2-10, is 30 million light-years from Earth, has been studied for years, and is forming stars very rapidly. It resembles what scientists think were some of the first galaxies to form in the early universe.

Reines along with Gregory Sivakoff and Kelsey Johnson of the University of Virginia and the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO), and Crystal Brogan of the NRAO, observed Henize 2-10 with the National Science Foundation?s Very Large Array radio telescope and with the Hubble Space Telescope.

They found a region near the center of the galaxy that strongly emits radio waves with characteristics of those emitted by super-fast “jets” of material spewed outward from areas close to a black hole.

They then searched images from the Chandra X-Ray Observatory that showed this same, radio-bright region to be strongly emitting energetic X-rays. This combination, they said, indicates an active, black-hole-powered, galactic nucleus.

“Not many dwarf galaxies are known to have massive black holes,” Sivakoff said.

While black holes of roughly the same mass as the one in Henize 2-10 have been found in other galaxies, those galaxies all have much more regular shapes.

“This galaxy probably resembles those in the very young universe, when galaxies were just starting to form and were colliding frequently. All its properties, including the supermassive black hole, are giving us important new clues about how these black holes and galaxies formed at that time,” Johnson said.

Source: SGGP

Software industry makes a massive leap

In Uncategorized on November 16, 2010 at 5:29 am

Massive storm brings 2nd day of snow, rain, winds

In Uncategorized on October 28, 2010 at 7:39 am

Yolanda Corona prayed she wouldn’t die.She was watching television with 10 relatives when winds from a massive storm tearing across the U.S. roared through her neighborhood.

The windows blew out of the living room. The chimney caved in. A tree plunged through the roof.

The family huddled in a back bedroom, whispering prayers, crying and holding each other. Somehow, they survived.

“We thought we were going to die. We were just so scared. We didn’t have time to do anything. We all just listened and prayed for our lives,” Jessica Vargas, Corona’s 18-year-old granddaughter, recalled Wednesday, looking at the family’s possessions, which had been strewn around their muddy yard the night before. No one was seriously hurt, but now the family must find somewhere to live.

Steps to a landing is all that remains from a mobile home destroyed in Vale, N.C., Wednesday, Oct. 27, 2010 after powerful thunderstorms moved through the area

The rare, fast-moving storm that destroyed their home also brought winds up to 81 mph, rain and tornadoes that started in the Midwest on Tuesday and continued Wednesday, moving into the southern and eastern U.S.

In suburban Chicago, Helen Miller, 41, was hurt when a branch fell about 65 feet from a large tree, crashed into her car and impaled her stomach. Doctors removed the branch and Miller’s husband said she asked him to hang on to it.

“She wants to save it for an art project or something,” Todd Miller told the Chicago Sun-Times. “She’s a bit of a free spirit, so I ran with it.”

The National Weather Service confirmed that eight tornadoes touched down in Indiana Tuesday, but that no serious damage or injuries were reported. Ohio saw six twisters, including one with gusts of at least 111 mph that ripped through a village in the northwest part of the state, destroying several homes. Another flattened a barn and carried a large windmill 40 yards.

Pat Tanner, a hydrologist with the National Weather Service in Greer, S.C., said a cold front is moving east and meeting warm, moist air causing instability in the atmosphere and spawning the storms.

In Chattanooga, Tenn., an apparent tornado on the Chickamauga Dam caused an accident that led to the closure of the highway and injured several people. Tornadoes also whirled through Racine County, Wis., where two people were injured when a section of roof was torn off a tractor factory, and Peotone, Ill., where three people were injured when a home’s roof came off.

The storm brought heavy snow and winds up to 60 mph to the Dakotas for a second day Wednesday, toppling signs, power lines and trees. Most of the snow, about 8 inches, was reported in central North Dakota, and travel in much of the state was difficult.

“The weather is not very nice out here. The winds are picking up and it’s very snowy, very slick,” said Linnea Reeves, a Walmart employee in Bismarck.

In Iowa, winds gusted to more than 50 mph in some places Wednesday, overturning semis on a highway and knocking down power lines.

Tornado watches and warnings were issued across the Southeast and into the Northeast.

In North Carolina, at least 11 people were hurt by the winds that destroyed Corona’s home, but none seriously.

“We just thank God that everyone is safe,” said Corona, who had some cuts on her leg.

Nearby, Douvhen Hanby was in his backyard when he saw the fast-moving funnel cloud head toward his house. He scrambled inside and yelled for his wife and four children to “hit the floor” in the living room. Seconds later, the house began shaking.

When the winds died down about two minutes later, the family — and their home — were more or less fine. Hanby ran to the next door to a neighbor’s mobile home, which had been shredded.

He dug through the rubble with his hands, looking for the woman and four children. He found them curled up in a ball under some pieces of tin.

“They were scared, shaking. Then when it hit them they were alive, they started crying,” he said.

About a mile away, Jack Hambrick, was watching TV when he saw that a line of thunderstorms and possible tornadoes were heading in his direction. When he heard the winds whip up outside his home, told his wife and daughter to head to a back bedroom for safety. But he didn’t make it. The house shook and he dropped to the floor in the living room. The furniture began swirling in the room and he kept his head down. “I just wanted them to be OK.”

They were, but when it was over a few minutes later, his roof and most of his walls were gone. The house was ruined.

“What are you going to do? I have a skylight,” he joked.

But then he turned serious.

“We were lucky,” he said. “Very lucky.”

Source: SGGP

US condemns massive leak of Afghan war files

In Uncategorized on July 26, 2010 at 3:18 pm

WASHINGTON, July 26, 2010 (AFP) – The White House has denounced a massive leak of secret military files that allegedly describe how assumed US ally Pakistan’s intelligence service secretly helps the Afghan insurgency.

But a US official also said the information was no surprise.

US soldiers stand guard as an auto rickshaw drives past in Dand district, Kandahar Province in Afghanistan on July 24, 2010.

In all, some 92,000 documents were released by the web whistleblower Wikileaks on Sunday, containing previously untold details of the Afghan war through Pentagon files and field reports spanning from 2004 to 2010.

According to the New York Times, one of the initial three media outlets to review and report on the leaks, they “suggest that Pakistan, an ostensible ally of the United States, allows representatives of its spy service to meet directly with the Taliban.”

Britain’s Guardian newspaper said the files, many of which detail growing numbers of civilians dying at the hands of international forces as well as the Taliban, painted “a devastating portrait of the failing war in Afghanistan.”

The White House issued its condemnation shortly before the leaks were posted online, saying the information could endanger US lives but also pointing to the administration’s long-held doubts about links between Pakistan intelligence agents and Afghan insurgents.

“The United States strongly condemns the disclosure of classified information by individuals and organizations which could put the lives of Americans and our partners at risk, and threaten our national security,” said White House National Security Advisor James Jones.

But while calling the leaks “irresponsible,” he promised they will not impact the commitment of President Barack Obama’s administration “to deepen” its partnerships with Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The White House also released a series of remarks made in the past by top officials expressing their concern about links between Pakistani spy services and militants in Afghanistan.

Among them was one from Defense Secretary Robert Gates dated March 31, 2009, in which he said that the Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence spy agency’s contacts with extremist groups were “a real concern to us.”

A US official, who asked not to be named, said he did not think that anyone who follows this issue will find it surprising that there are concerns about ISI and safe havens in Pakistan.

The official also said that Wikileaks was “not an objective news outlet but rather an organization that opposes US policy in Afghanistan.”

The New York Times, The Guardian and the German magazine Der Spiegel received the leaked material several weeks ago from Wikileaks, a secretive web organization that often publishes classified material.

One of the people suspected of providing classified information to Wikileaks is an American soldier who has been charged with two counts of misconduct for allegedly providing video footage of a US Apache helicopter strike in Iraq, in which around a dozen people were gunned down in broad daylight.

Describing “secret strategy sessions,” the Times said Pakistan spy services “organize networks of militant groups that fight against American soldiers in Afghanistan, and even hatch plots to assassinate Afghan leaders.”

In one of the documents, Pakistan’s former ISI spy chief Hamid Gul is described at a January 2009 meeting with a group of insurgents following the death by a CIA drone attack of a leader of Al-Qaeda operations in Pakistan named Zamarai, also known as Osama al-Kini.

“The meeting attendees were saddened by the news of Zamarai’s death and discussed plans to complete Zamarai’s last mission by facilitating the movement of a suicide vehicle-borne improvised explosive device from Pakistan to Afghanistan through the Khan Pass,” it said.

The Times noted that it was unclear whether the attack ever took place, and said that despite the official end of Gul’s tenure at the ISI in 1989, “General Gul is mentioned so many times in the reports, if they are to be believed, that it seems unlikely that Pakistan’s current military and intelligence officials could not know of at least some of his wide-ranging activities.”

According to media reports, the documents disclose for the first time that Taliban insurgents appear to have used portable, heat-seeking surface-to-air missiles to shoot down US helicopters.

Such missiles were provided by the CIA to anti-communist guerrillas in Afghanistan in the 1980s, when the country was occupied by Soviet troops.

Pakistan’s ambassador to the United States, Husain Haqqani, denounced the leaks saying they consisted of “unprocessed” reports from the field that “do not reflect the current onground realities.”

However, US Senator John Kerry, chair of the powerful Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said the leaks “raise serious questions about the reality of America’s policy toward Pakistan and Afghanistan.”

With nearly 150,000 US and NATO troops in Afghanistan, President Obama has set a deadline of July 2011 as the start of a gradual drawdown of US troops, after a nearly nine-year mission that began in the wake of the September 11, 2001 attacks.

Pakistan receives more than one billion dollars a year from Washington for its help combating the Islamic militants.

Source: SGGP

Israel planning massive attack on Gaza: Ahmadinejad

In Uncategorized on June 1, 2010 at 11:41 am

TEHRAN, June 1, 2010 (AFP) – President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said on Tuesday that Iran has precise information that Israel plans to launch a “massive attack” on Gaza in the wake of its deadly raid on an aid flotilla.

“We have precise information it has planned a massive attack against Gaza to make up for its past defeats,” Ahmadinejad said in a public speech in the western Iranian city of Ilam that was broadcast live on state television.

“I warn you that if this time you commit a crime against any place, against Gaza, the storm of regional nations’ fury will uproot you,” he said.

The hardliner, who has repeatedly infuriated the world by his anti-Israeli tirades, also lashed out at countries which he said “backed the Zionist regime.”

“This time if you back the crimes of the Zionist regime, the anger of regional nations … will not just be limited to the borders of Palestine, but will also put on trial you and those who are accomplices in the crime,” he said to cheering crowds.

Ahmadinejad criticised Washington for adopting a “weak stance” against Israel for its deadly raid on the Gaza aid flotilla.

“The US government has adopted a very weak and biased position. Instead of condemning, it has spoken vaguely and sought to evade taking a stance,” he said, while some European countries had adopted a “good” stand.

On Monday, Israeli commandos raided an aid flotilla in international waters of the Mediterranean headed to Gaza that left at least nine pro-Palestinian activists dead, according to the Israeli army.

Demonstators join an anti-Israel protest in Sydney on June 1, 2010. Australia on June 1 strongly condemned a deadly raid by Israeli commandos on a Gaza-bound aid ship. AFP PHOTO

The attack on the flotilla has triggered a fresh wave of tirades from Ahmadinejad against Israel.

The animosity between the Islamic republic and the Jewish state has worsened under Ahmadinejad, who has repeatedly said Tehran’s arch-foe is “doomed to be wiped off the map.”

Israel, for its part, has consistently demanded strong action against Iran for pursuing its controversial nuclear programme and has not ruled out a military strike.

Source: SGGP

Ministry plans massive salt purchase to prop up prices

In Uncategorized on May 25, 2010 at 5:27 pm

Massive disaster looms in Gulf of Mexico spill

In Uncategorized on May 10, 2010 at 4:52 am

 Fears are mounting that the US Gulf coast could face an environmental catastrophe of a whole new dimension as the best short-term fix for a massive oil spill failed to work.

British energy giant BP, which owns the lion’s share of the leaking oil and has accepted responsibility for the clean-up, has tried to nix the idea that a massive containment box called a dome is a “silver bullet” to solve the crisis.

The BP-leased Deepwater Horizon rig sank some 80 km (50 miles) southeast of Venice, Louisiana April 22, two days after an explosion that killed 11 workers.

The riser pipe that had connected the rig to the wellhead now lies fractured on the seabed a mile below, spewing out oil at a rate at some 5,000 barrels, or 210,000 gallons, a day.

Sheen from the leading edge of the slick has surrounded island nature reserves off the coast of Louisiana and tar balls have reached as far as the Alabama coast, threatening tourist beaches further east.

Coastal residents Thursday anxiously awaited the outcome of efforts to contain the Gulf of Mexico oil spill with a giant domelike structure

Sea life is being affected in a low-lying region that contains vital spawning grounds for fish, shrimp and crabs and is a major migratory stop for many species of rare birds.

The 2.4-billion-dollar Louisiana fishing industry has been slapped with a temporary ban in certain areas due to health concerns about polluted fish.

But officials with the Louisiana departments of Environmental Quality (DEQ), Health and Hospitals (DHH), and Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) said they were working with federal agencies to protect public health and guarantee Gulf Coast-harvested seafood products are safe.

“Our primary concerns (are) the health and safety of residents near the oil spill, and the safety of anyone who enjoys Louisiana seafood,” said DHH Secretary Alan Levine. “We believe this enhanced monitoring will give us the proper baseline of information we need to keep the public safe.”

BP, facing a barrage of lawsuits and clean-up costs soaring above 10 million dollars a day, had pinned its hopes on a 98-ton concrete and steel containment box that it successfully lowered 5,000 feet (1,500 meters) down over the main leak.

But the contraption lay idle on the seabed as engineers furiously tried to figure out how to stop it clogging with ice crystals.

“I wouldn’t say it’s failed yet,” BP chief operating officer Doug Suttles said on Saturday. “What we attempted to do last night didn’t work because these (ice crystal) hydrates plugged up the top of the dome.”

Still, if efforts fail to make the giant funnel system effective, there is no solid plan B to prevent potentially tens of millions of gallons of crude from causing one of the worst ever environmental catastrophes.

Untold damage is already being done by the 3.5 million gallons estimated to be in the sea so far, but the extent of that harm will rise exponentially if the only solution is a relief well that takes months to drill.

Admiral Thad Allen, head of the US Coast Guard, suggested they were considering what he called a “junk shot” to plug the main leak.

“They’re actually going to take a bunch of debris, shredded up tires, golf balls and things like that and under very high pressure shoot it into the preventer itself and see if they can clog it up and stop the leak,” Allen, who is leading the US government’s response, told CBS television.

This could be risky as experts have warned that excessive tinkering with the blowout preventer — a huge 450-ton valve system that should have shut off the oil — could see crude shoot out unchecked at 12 times the current rate.

There are also fears the slick, which covers an area of about 2,000 square miles (5,200 square kilometers), could be carried around the Florida peninsula if it spreads far enough south to be picked up by a special Gulf current.

“If this gusher continues for several months, it’s going to cover up the Gulf coast and it’s going to get down into the loop current and that’s going to take it down the Florida Keys and up the east coast of Florida,” warned Florida Senator Bill Nelson.

“You are talking about massive economic loss to our tourism, our beaches, to our fisheries, very possibly disruption of our military testing and training, which is in the Gulf of Mexico,” he told CNN.

On the dome front, clearing out the slushy crystals is easy — the chamber just has to be raised to warmer levels, Suttles told reporters. Keeping the crystals out so that a pipe can be lowered into the dome to suck the oil to a waiting barge is another matter.

BP began drilling a first relief well one week ago, but that will take up to three months to drill — by which time some 20 million gallons of crude could have streamed into the sea and ruined the fragile ecology of the Gulf.

Source: SGGP

Australia shipping alert over massive iceberg

In World on December 11, 2009 at 10:19 am

Australian authorities Friday issued a shipping alert over a gigantic iceberg that is gradually approaching the country’s southwest coast.

A NASA satellite image of iceberg B17B (C), floating southwest off the West Australian coast. (AFP Photo)

The Bureau of Meteorology said the once-in-a-century cliff of ice, which dislodged from Antarctica about a decade ago before drifting north, was being monitored using satellites.

“Mariners are advised that at 1200 GMT on December 9, an iceberg approximately 1,700 kilometres (1,054 miles) south-southwest of the West Australian coast was observed,” it said, giving the iceberg’s coordinates.

“The iceberg is 140 square kilometres in area — 19 kilometres long by eight kilometres wide.”

Experts believe the iceberg — known as B17B — is likely to break up as it enters warmer waters nearer Australia, creating hundreds of smaller icebergs in a hazard to passing ships.

“It’s still 1,700 kilometres away, so it’s quite a long way away, it’s not really on our doorstep yet but it’s been heading steadily towards us,” glaciologist Neal Young said Thursday.

Young earlier told AFP that an iceberg of that size had probably not been seen in the area since the days when 19th century clipper sailing ships plied the trade route between Britain and Australia.

The iceberg has been floating around Antarctica since shearing off the icey continent but had lately begun heading north because of ocean currents and weather conditions.

Its discovery comes after two other large icebergs were spotted further east, off Australia’s Macquarie Island, followed by more than 100 smaller chunks heading towards New Zealand.

Young described the icebergs as uncommon, but said they could become more frequent if sea temperatures rise through global warming.

Source: SGGP Bookmark & Share

Surgery saves boy with massive liver tumour

In Uncategorized on December 7, 2008 at 5:42 pm

HCM City (VNA) – Doctors have conducted a surgery to remove a half-a-kilo growth from the liver of a 10-year-old child, said professor Tran Dong A, former deputy director of the National Pediatrics Hospital 2.

The boy is now in stable health condition, the professor said.

The growth is a tumour-like liver-derived parenchyma that grew very fast from the right haft of the child’s liver and may cause death, he said, adding that this is the first time such a growth had developed in a 10-year-old child.
The child, who weighs only 27 kilos, suffered a severe chest pain before the surgery.-