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CONFIRMED: The DEA Struck A Deal With Mexico's Most Notorious Drug Cartel →

An investigation by El Universal has found that between the years 2000 and 2012, the U.S. government had an arrangement with Mexico’s Sinaloa drug cartel that allowed the organization to smuggle billions of dollars of drugs in exchange for information on rival cartels.

Sinaloa, led by Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, supplies 80% of the drugs entering the Chicago area and has a presence in cities across the U.S.

There have long been allegations that Guzman, considered to be “the world’s most powerful drug trafficker,” coordinates with American authorities.

But the El Universal investigation is the first to publish court documents that include corroborating testimony from a DEA agent and a Justice Department official. [holy shit…continue]

(Source: theamericanbear)

— 3 months ago with 266 notes
#War on Drugs  #DEA  #Mexico  #Fast and Furious  #Sinaloa cartel 

we-are-star-stuff:

Biggest Scientific Breakthroughs of 2013

From intergalactic neutrinos and invisible brains, to the creation of miniature human “organoids”, 2013 was an remarkable year for scientific discovery. Here are some of the biggest scientific breakthroughs, innovations and advances of 2013.

Voyager I Leaves the Solar System

Escaping the solar system is no mean feat. For 36 years, NASA’s Voyager 1 spacecraft has putting distance between itself and the Sun at speeds approaching 11 miles per second. At a pace like that, scientists knew Voyager was approaching the fringes of the heliosphere that surrounds and defines our solar neighborhood – but when would it break that barrier? When would it make the leap to interstellar space? After months of uncertaintyNASA finally made the news official this September. "Voyager 1 is the first human-made object to make it into interstellar space" said Don Gurnett, lead author of the paper announcing Voyager’s departure; “we’re actually out there.”

The Milky Way is Brimming with Habitable Worlds

Planet-hunting scientists announced in November that 22% of sunlike stars in the Milky Way are orbited by potentially habitable, Earth-size worlds. This remarkable finding suggests there could be as many as two-billion planets in our galaxy suitable for life — and that the nearest such planet may be only 12 light-years away. Is Earth 2.0 out there? With figures like that, it’s hard to imagine otherwise. Who knows – with all the Kepler data we’ve got to sift through, there’s a chance we’ve already found it. 

Curiosity Confirms Mars Was Once Capable of Harboring Life

In March, NASA scientists released perhaps the most compelling evidence to date that the Red Planet was once capable of harboring life. Earlier this year, Curiosity drilled some samples out of a sedimentary rock near an old river bed in Gale Crater. This geological area used to feature a series of stream channels, leaving behind finely grained bedrock indicative of previously wet conditions. Using the rover’s onboard instrumentation, NASA scientists analyzed these samples to detect some of the critical elements required for life, including sulfur, nitrogen, hydrogen, oxygen, phosphorus, and carbon. The rover is currently on a trek to its primary scientific target – a three-mile-high peak at the center of Gale Crater named Mount Sharp – where it will attempt to further reinforce its findings.

Researchers Detect Neutrinos from Another Galaxy

By drilling a 1.5 mile hole deep into an Antarctic glacier, physicists working at the IceCube South Pole Observatory this year captured 28 neutrinos, those mysterious and extremely powerful subatomic particles that can pass straight through solid matter. And here’s the real kicker: the particles likely originated from beyond our solar system – and possibly even our galaxy. ”This is a landmark discovery,” said Alexander Kusenko, a UCLA astroparticle physicist who was not involved in the investigation, “possibly a Nobel Prize in the making.”

NASA Discovers “A Previously Unknown Surprise Circling Earth”

NASA’s recently deployed Van Allen probes — a pair of robotic spacecraft launched in August 2012 to investigate Earth’s eponymous pair of radiation belts — turned out out some very unexpected findings in February, when they spotted an ephemeral third ring of radiation, previously unknown to science, surrounding our planet.

Human Cloning Becomes a Reality

A scientific milestone 17 years in the making, researchers announced in May that they had derived stem cells from cloned human embryos.The controversial technology could lead to new treatments for diseases like Parkinson’s and diabetes — while bringing us one step closer to human reproductive cloning.

Giant “Pandoravirus” Could Redefine Life as we Know it

Scientists in July announced the discovery of a pair of viruses that defy classification. Bigger and more genetically complex than any viral genus known to science, these so-called “pandoraviruses” could reignite a longstanding debate over the classification of life itself.

Brain-to-Brain Interfaces Have Arrived

Back in February, researchers announced that they had successfully established an electronic link between the brains of two rats, and demonstrated that signals from the mind of one could help the second solve basic puzzles in real time — even when those animals were separated by thousands of miles. A few months later, a similar connection was established between the brain of a human and a rat. Just one month later, researchers published the results of the first successful human-to-human brain interface. The age of the mind-meld, it seems, is near at hand.

There is Life at the End of the World

There is life in Lake Whillans. For millions of years, the small body of liquid water has lurked hundreds of meters below Antarctica’s Ross Ice Shelf, sealed off from the outside world and the scientists who would explore its subglacial depths. Earlier this year, a team of researchers led by Montana State University glaciologist John Priscu successfully bored a tunnel to Whillans and encountered life, making Priscu and his colleagues the first people in history to discover living organisms in the alien lakes at the bottom of the world.

Doctors Cure HIV in a Baby Born With the Disease

In a monumental first for medicine, doctors announced in March that a baby had been cured of an HIV infection. Dr. Deborah Persaud, who presented the child’s case at the 20th annual Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infection, called it “definitely a game-changer.”

Newly Discovered Skulls Could Prune Humans’ Evolutionary Tree

An incredibly well-preserved, 1.8-million-year-old skull from Dmanisi, Georgia suggests the evolutionary tree of the genus Homo may have fewer branches than previously believed. In a report published in October, a team led by Georgian anthropologist David Lordkipanidze writes that it is “the world’s first completely preserved hominid skull.” And what a skull it is. When considered alongside four other skulls discovered nearby, it suggests that the earliest known members of the Homo genus (H. habilisH.rudolfensis and H. erectus) may not have been distinct, coexisting species, at all. Instead, they may have been part of a single, evolving lineage that eventually gave rise to modern humans.

Neuroscientists Turn Brains Invisible

Gaze upon the stunning effects of CLARITY, a new technique that enables scientists to turn brain matter and other tissues completely transparent. It’s been hailed as one of the most important advances for neuroanatomy in decades, and it’s not hard to see why.

[source | gifs → galaxyclusters]

— 3 months ago with 11444 notes
#science  #Voyager  #Curiosity  #NASA  #neutrinos  #HIV  #pandoravirus  #cloning  #anatomy  #evolution  #Antarctica 
ifnotyouwhoelse:

NSA hacked 50,000 global networks
A new Snowden leak sheds more light on Tailored Access Operations, a catalog of standard attacks against routers and other Internet infrastructure.
The new leak details the deployment of malware against 50,000 computer networks worldwide, in cooperation with GCHQ, the British spy agency. The program dates back to 1998, and the infected networks are referred to internally as “sleeper cells” that can be switched on or off at will.
Cyber operations are increasingly important for the NSA. Computer hacks are relatively inexpensive and provide the NSA with opportunities to obtain information that they otherwise would not have access to. The NSA-presentation shows their CNE-operations in countries such as Venezuela and Brazil. The malware installed in these countries can remain active for years without being detected. ‘Sleeper cells’ can be activated with a single push of a button
The malware can be controlled remotely and be turned on and off at will. The ‘implants’ act as digital ‘sleeper cells’ that can be activated with a single push of a button. According to the Washington Post, the NSA has been carrying out this type of cyber operation since 1998.NSA infected 50,000 computer networks with malicious software [Floor Boon, Steven Derix and Huib Modderkolk/NRC]

ifnotyouwhoelse:

NSA hacked 50,000 global networks

A new Snowden leak sheds more light on Tailored Access Operations, a catalog of standard attacks against routers and other Internet infrastructure.

The new leak details the deployment of malware against 50,000 computer networks worldwide, in cooperation with GCHQ, the British spy agency. The program dates back to 1998, and the infected networks are referred to internally as “sleeper cells” that can be switched on or off at will.

Cyber operations are increasingly important for the NSA. Computer hacks are relatively inexpensive and provide the NSA with opportunities to obtain information that they otherwise would not have access to. The NSA-presentation shows their CNE-operations in countries such as Venezuela and Brazil. The malware installed in these countries can remain active for years without being detected. ‘Sleeper cells’ can be activated with a single push of a button

The malware can be controlled remotely and be turned on and off at will. The ‘implants’ act as digital ‘sleeper cells’ that can be activated with a single push of a button. According to the Washington Post, the NSA has been carrying out this type of cyber operation since 1998.
NSA infected 50,000 computer networks with malicious software [Floor Boon, Steven Derix and Huib Modderkolk/NRC]

(via ifnotyouwhoelse)

— 4 months ago with 18 notes
#NSA  #Electronic Surveillance 
christinetheastrophysicist:

ATLAS sees Higgs boson decay to fermions

The ATLAS experiment at CERN has released preliminary results that show evidence that the Higgs boson decays to two tau particles. Taus belong to a group of subatomic particles called the fermions, which make up matter. This result – measured at 4.1 sigma on the 5-point scale particle physicists use to determine the certainty of a result – is the first evidence for a Higgs decay to fermions.
Read More.

christinetheastrophysicist:

ATLAS sees Higgs boson decay to fermions

The ATLAS experiment at CERN has released preliminary results that show evidence that the Higgs boson decays to two tau particles. Taus belong to a group of subatomic particles called the fermions, which make up matter. This result – measured at 4.1 sigma on the 5-point scale particle physicists use to determine the certainty of a result – is the first evidence for a Higgs decay to fermions.

Read More.

(via thescienceofreality)

— 4 months ago with 530 notes
#science  #ATLAS  #CERN  #Higgs boson  #fermions  #particle physics 

jvnk:

Cortex: The 3D-Printed Cast

After many centuries of splints and cumbersome plaster casts that have been the itchy and smelly bane of millions of children, adults and the aged alike the world over, we at last bring fracture support into the 21st century. The Cortex exoskeletal cast provides a highly technical and trauma zone localized support system that is fully ventilated, super light, shower friendly, hygienic, recyclable and stylish.

The cortex cast utilizes the x-ray and 3d scan of a patient with a fracture and generates a 3d model in relation to the point of fracture.

By Jake Evill

(via thescienceofreality)

— 4 months ago with 66950 notes
#3D Printing  #cast  #medical supplies  #medicine  #design 
Only North American middle class to grow in last 30 years was Mexico’s →

sinidentidades:

Only Mexico’s middle class has grown over the past 30 years in North America, while income disparity has increased in Canada and the United States, according to a study put out Tuesday.

“Mexico’s middle class has benefited from urbanization, greater female employment, improved education and better social programs,” said economist Lars Osberg, the author of the report by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA).

“Globalization, technological advances, a drop in unionized work, and a deregulated labour market have contributed to stagnant real incomes for most in Canada and the US since the 1980s,” he said.

Osberg said that income disparity “has accelerated” in both Canada and the United States.

“This combination of stagnant real incomes for most people and a rapid rise of the incomes of the richest one percent in the United States and Canada has produced steadily increasing income inequality — to a level that hasn’t been seen since the 1920s,” he said.

“Increasing inequality is not a sustainable trend,” Osberg warned. “When those at the top keep amassing income, their growing savings have to go somewhere.”

“When the rising savings of the rich are parked in the financial markets, but everyone else falls deeper into debt, a house of cards is created, producing the kind of economic instability that led to the 1929 financial sector crash and the market meltdown of 2008.”

— 4 months ago with 45 notes
#Mexico  #economics  #economy  #middle class  #inequality 
america-wakiewakie:

From Mother Jones:

"[M]ilitary operations in Afghanistan have cost nearly $700 billion. That’s still less than the United States spent fighting in Vietnam, but it’s still a major chunk of the more than $1.6 trillion spent on the Afghan and Iraq conflicts since September 11."

america-wakiewakie:

From Mother Jones:

"[M]ilitary operations in Afghanistan have cost nearly $700 billion. That’s still less than the United States spent fighting in Vietnam, but it’s still a major chunk of the more than $1.6 trillion spent on the Afghan and Iraq conflicts since September 11."

(Source: america-wakiewakie)

— 4 months ago with 48 notes
#Military budget  #US foreign policy  #government spending  #Afghanistan 
theatlantic:

TSA Spent $878 Million on Screening Program That Probably Doesn’t Work

The Transportation Security Administration has spent almost $900 million dollars since 2007 on a program to scan crowds for signs that someone is a terrorist.The Government Accountability Office reviewed the program. Their finding: Congress ought to shut it down, because there’s no evidence that the tactic works.
Read more. [Image: Reuters]

theatlantic:

TSA Spent $878 Million on Screening Program That Probably Doesn’t Work

The Transportation Security Administration has spent almost $900 million dollars since 2007 on a program to scan crowds for signs that someone is a terrorist.The Government Accountability Office reviewed the program. Their finding: Congress ought to shut it down, because there’s no evidence that the tactic works.

Read more. [Image: Reuters]

— 4 months ago with 232 notes
#TSA  #government spending  #behavior detection  #screening  #civil liberties 
cosmophilia:

Black Holes and You: The Schwarzschild RadiusIt can be easy for one to feel insignificant in this universe. After all, we are small creatures on a relatively small rock that orbits one of many billion stars within one of many billion galaxies. However, the next time you find yourself experiencing this dilemma, try to take a moment and think about this one simple-but-astounding fact: You are made of matter. To be more specific, you are made of atoms. While many writers, such as Carl Sagan, have elaborated on the deep connection between our atoms and the stars, I’d like to talk instead about a different astronomical feature, one that is less-obvious but a no less-real connection to celestial objects: black holes.However, before I am able to explain our link to black holes, I feel it is necessary to review some fundamental principles of nature.Just about everyone has at least heard of black holes. Many people know that they are gravitational wells from which not even light can escape. What many people don’t know, however, is that almost anything is able to become a black hole. That’s right, anything can become a black hole (you, me, pizza, a kitten—everything). This is due to an important feature of atoms: they have a lot of empty space. In the center of an atom is its nucleus, consisting of protons and neutrons. Surrounding the nucleus is the electron cloud. To put all this empty space into perspective: If we were to scale up the atom so that the nucleus was about the size of a baseball, the electron orbit would be approximately three kilometers wide (~1.8 miles). Remember, all  atoms have this empty space – including the ones that we are made of. If we were to remove all of the empty space in all the atoms that make up the human race, the entire human race could fit into an area about the size of a sugar cube.Now, imagine if you were to take an object and compress it into a space so tight that you cause its escape velocity (the speed needed to “break free” from the gravitational attraction of an object) to be greater than the speed of light. What would happen? The object would become a black hole. This idea sounds strange at first. After all, black holes are usually thought to be enormous cosmological vacuum cleaners, sucking up everything in their wake. This isn’t the case, though. Because of matter’s spacious nature, black holes can be very, very tiny. As stated earlier, even you can become a black hole! Of course, you would have to be compressed into such a sphere so small that it meets the requirements mentioned earlier in this paragraph regarding escape velocity, and I’m not so sure that would be a comfortable state of being.Just how small would this spherical you have to be? In 1915, a German physicist by the name of Karl Schwarzschild solved this problem while working on the Einstein field equations involved in general relativity. In his work, Schwarzschild provided for us an equation that could tell you the radius of the sphere an object would have to be squished to the size of in order for it to become a black hole. As complex as this may sound, the equation is actually very simple:

Where “Rs” is the Schwarzschild radius, “G” is Newton’s gravitational constant, “M” is the mass, and “c” is the speed of light.

G = 6.67x10^-11 m^3 kg^-1 s^-2
  c = 3x10^8 m/s

If you want to find out what your own Schwarzschild radius is, simply plug your mass in kilograms into the “M” slot. Assuming the calculation is performed correctly, the result will be the Schwarzschild radius. Squish yourself into a sphere of which the radius’ length is at most your Schwarzschild radius, and voila! You will be a black hole.
Now, being a black hole doesn’t mean you’ll suddenly start to suck up everything around you. Your mass hasn’t changed a bit, so your gravitational impact on your surroundings will remain the same. For example, if the Sun were to suddenly become a black hole, all planets would continue to orbit it just as they do now, because they would not be within the Sun’s event horizon, which is really what the Schwarzschild radius is - the radius of an object’s event horizon (the “point of no return” where nothing can escape being sucked into the object). Moreover, this is a region of space-time within which events cannot affect outside objects. When it is said that nothing can escape from a black hole, the more accurate way of saying this would be “nothing can escape from a black hole after it has passed the event horizon.”So, in the event of an existential crisis, look up to the sky. Acknowledge that we are intrinsically connected to the marvels of the universe that light up the night sky, as well as those that cannot be seen. As Neil DeGrasse Tyson so eloquently put it, “That makes me smile and I actually feel quite large at the end of that. It’s not that we are better than the universe; we are part of the universe. We are in the universe and the universe is in us.” I think I’ll end it on that note.

cosmophilia:

Black Holes and You: The Schwarzschild Radius

It can be easy for one to feel insignificant in this universe. After all, we are small creatures on a relatively small rock that orbits one of many billion stars within one of many billion galaxies. However, the next time you find yourself experiencing this dilemma, try to take a moment and think about this one simple-but-astounding fact: You are made of
 matter. To be more specific, you are made of atoms. 

While many writers, such as Carl Sagan, have elaborated on the deep connection between our atoms and the stars, I’d like to talk instead about a different astronomical feature, one that is less-obvious but a no less-real connection to celestial objects: black holes.

However, before I am able to explain our link to black holes, I feel it is necessary to review some fundamental principles of nature.

Just about everyone has at least heard of black holes. Many people know that they are gravitational wells from which not even light can escape. What many people don’t know, however, is that almost anything is able to become a black hole. That’s right, anything can become a black hole (you, me, pizza, a kitten—everything). This is due to an important feature of atoms: they have a lot of empty space. In the center of an atom is its nucleus, consisting of protons and neutrons. Surrounding the nucleus is the electron cloud. To put all this empty space into perspective: If we were to scale up the atom so that the nucleus was about the size of a baseball, the electron orbit would be approximately three kilometers wide (~1.8 miles). Remember, all  atoms have this empty space – including the ones that we are made of. If we were to remove all of the empty space in all the atoms that make up the human race, the entire human race could fit into an area about the size of a sugar cube.

Now, imagine if you were to take an object and compress it into a space so tight that you cause its escape velocity (the speed needed to “break free” from the gravitational attraction of an object) to be greater than the speed of light. What would happen? 

The object would become a black hole. This idea sounds strange at first. After all, black holes are usually thought to be enormous cosmological vacuum cleaners, sucking up everything in their wake. This isn’t the case, though. Because of matter’s spacious nature, black holes can be very, very tiny. As stated earlier, even you can become a black hole! Of course, you would have to be compressed into such a sphere so small that it meets the requirements mentioned earlier in this paragraph regarding escape velocity, and I’m not so sure that would be a comfortable state of being.

Just how small would this spherical you have to be? In 1915, a German physicist by the name of Karl Schwarzschild solved this problem while working on the Einstein field equations involved in general relativity. In his work, Schwarzschild provided for us an equation that could tell you the radius of the sphere an object would have to be squished to the size of in order for it to become a black hole. As complex as this may sound, the equation is actually very simple:
image
Where “Rs” is the Schwarzschild radius, “G” is Newton’s gravitational constant, “M” is the mass, and “c” is the speed of light.
  • G = 6.67x10^-11 m^3 kg^-1 s^-2
  •   c = 3x10^8 m/s
If you want to find out what your own Schwarzschild radius is, simply plug your mass in kilograms into the “M” slot. Assuming the calculation is performed correctly, the result will be the Schwarzschild radius. Squish yourself into a sphere of which the radius’ length is at most your Schwarzschild radius, and voila! You will be a black hole.

Now, being a black hole doesn’t mean you’ll suddenly start to suck up everything around you. Your mass hasn’t changed a bit, so your gravitational impact on your surroundings will remain the same. For example, if the Sun were to suddenly become a black hole, all planets would continue to orbit it just as they do now, because they would not be within the Sun’s event horizon, which is really what the Schwarzschild radius is - the radius of an object’s event horizon (the “point of no return” where nothing can escape being sucked into the object). Moreover, this is a region of space-time within which events cannot affect outside objects. When it is said that nothing can escape from a black hole, the more accurate way of saying this would be “nothing can escape from a black hole after it has passed the event horizon.”

So, in the event of an existential crisis, look up to the sky. Acknowledge that we are intrinsically connected to the marvels of the universe that light up the night sky, as well as those that cannot be seen. As Neil DeGrasse Tyson so eloquently put it, “That makes me smile and I actually feel quite large at the end of that. It’s not that we are better than the universe; we are part of the universe. We are in the universe and the universe is in us.” I think I’ll end it on that note
.

(Source: , via we-are-star-stuff)

— 4 months ago with 1288 notes
#Astronomy  #black holes  #physics  #Schwarzschild Radius  #astrophysics  #event horizon  #quantum mechanics 

america-wakiewakie:

15 Ways The United States Is The Best (At Being The Worst) 

We hear it all the time, from every corner of the political sphere: There’s no other country on the planet quite like the United States of America. Such pronouncements are typically of the rah-rah variety, and it’s indisputably true that this country is exceptional in a large number of ways.

But that is not always necessarily a good thing.

(To see all fifteen, click the title. Credit: Huffington Post) 

(Source: america-wakiewakie)

— 4 months ago with 4534 notes
#United States  #economics  #inequality  #American Exceptionalism 

electricspacekoolaid:

A Visible Milky Way Supernova Predicted in Next 50 Years

Image: Infrared image at the top of the page from NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope shows the expanding remains of Kepler’s supernova, first seen 400 years ago by sky watchers, including famous astronomer Johannes Kepler.

Astronomers have calculated the odds that, sometime during the next 50 years, a supernova occurring in our home galaxy will be visible from Earth, calculating the odds to be nearly 100 percent that such a supernova would be visible to telescopes in the form of infrared radiation. A new study suggests that they have a solid chance of doing something that’s never been done before: detect a supernova fast enough to witness what happens at the very beginning of a star’s demise. 

“We see all these stars go supernova in other galaxies, and we don’t fully understand how it happens. We think we know, we say we know, but that’s not actually 100 percent true,” said Christopher Kochanek, professor of astronomy at Ohio State and the Ohio Eminent Scholar in Observational Cosmology.
"Today, technologies have advanced to the point that we can learn enormously more about supernovae if we can catch the next one in our galaxy and study it with all our available tools."

Astronomers now have sensitive detectors for neutrinos (particles emitted from the core of a collapsing star) and gravitational waves (created by the vibrations of the star’s core) which can find any supernova occurring in our galaxy. The question is whether we can actually see light from the supernova because we live in a galaxy filled with dust—soot particles that Kochanek likened to those seen in diesel truck exhaust—that absorb the light and might hide a supernova from our view.

“Every few days, we have the chance to observe supernovae happening outside of our galaxy,” said team member Scott Adams. “But there’s only so much you can learn from those, whereas a galactic supernova would show us so much more. Our neutrino detectors and gravitational wave detectors are only sensitive enough to take measurements inside our galaxy, where we believe that a supernova happens only once or twice a century.”

For those of us who would hope to see a Milky Way supernova with our own eyes, however, the chances are lower and depend on our latitude on Earth. The last time it happened was in 1604, when Johannes Kepler spotted one some 20,000 light years away in the constellation Ophiuchus. He was in northern Italy at the time.

With only one or two happening a century, the chance of a Milky Way supernova is small, but it would be a tragedy to miss it, and this work is designed to improve the chances of being ready for the scientific event of a lifetime,” Beacom concluded. The odds that astronomers would spy a truly dazzling supernova—like the Kepler that outshone all other stars in the sky—at only around 5 percent.

Read: The results of the Ohio State study will appear in an upcoming issue of The Astrophysical Journal.

The Daily Galaxy via The Ohio State University

(via we-are-star-stuff)

— 4 months ago with 1086 notes
#Astronomy  #supernova  #stars  #Milky Way  #galaxy  #neutrinos  #science  #space 
distant-traveller:

Why Jupiter’s Great Red Spot has lasted so long

The mystery of why Jupiter’s Great Red Spot did not vanish centuries ago may now be solved, and the findings could help reveal more clues about the vortices in Earth’s oceans and the nurseries of stars and planets, researchers say.
The Great Red Spot is the most noticeable feature on Jupiter’s surface — a storm about 12,400 miles (20,000 kilometers) long and 7,500 miles (12,000 km) wide, about two to three times larger than Earth. Winds at its oval edges can reach up to 425 mph (680 km/h). This giant storm was first recorded in 1831 but may have first been discovered in 1665.
"Based on current theories, the Great Red Spot should have disappeared after several decades," researcher Pedram Hassanzadeh, a geophysical fluid dynamicist at Harvard University,said in a statement. "Instead, it has been there for hundreds of years."
Vortices like the Great Red Spot can dissipate because of many factors. For instance, waves and turbulence in and around the storm sap its winds of energy. It also loses energy by radiating heat. Moreover, the Great Red Spot rests between two powerful jet streams in Jupiter’s atmosphere that flow in opposite directions and may slow down its spinning.
Some researchers suggest that large vortices such as the Great Red Spot gain energy and survive by absorbing smaller vortices. However, “this does not happen often enough to explain the Red Spot’s longevity,” researcher Philip Marcus, a fluid dynamicist and planetary scientist at the University of California, Berkeley,said in a statement. The Great Red Spot is not the only mysterious vortex.
To help solve the mystery of the Great Red Spot’s endurance, Hassanzadeh and Marcus developed a new 3D, high-resolution computer model of large vortices.
Models of vortices generally focus on swirling horizontal winds, where most of the energy resides. Although vortices also have vertical flows, these have much less energy. Therefore, “in the past, most researchers either ignored the vertical flow because they thought it was not important, or they used simpler equations because it was so difficult to model,” Hassanzadeh said.
The researchers now find that vertical flows hold the key to the Great Red Spot’s longevity: When the storm loses energy, vertical flows move hot and cold gases in and out of the storm, restoring part of the vortex’s energy.
Together, vortices — whether on Jupiter or in Earth’s oceans — may decay up to 100 times slower than researchers previously thought.

Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

distant-traveller:

Why Jupiter’s Great Red Spot has lasted so long

The mystery of why Jupiter’s Great Red Spot did not vanish centuries ago may now be solved, and the findings could help reveal more clues about the vortices in Earth’s oceans and the nurseries of stars and planets, researchers say.

The Great Red Spot is the most noticeable feature on Jupiter’s surface — a storm about 12,400 miles (20,000 kilometers) long and 7,500 miles (12,000 km) wide, about two to three times larger than Earth. Winds at its oval edges can reach up to 425 mph (680 km/h). This giant storm was first recorded in 1831 but may have first been discovered in 1665.

"Based on current theories, the Great Red Spot should have disappeared after several decades," researcher Pedram Hassanzadeh, a geophysical fluid dynamicist at Harvard University,said in a statement. "Instead, it has been there for hundreds of years."

Vortices like the Great Red Spot can dissipate because of many factors. For instance, waves and turbulence in and around the storm sap its winds of energy. It also loses energy by radiating heat. Moreover, the Great Red Spot rests between two powerful jet streams in Jupiter’s atmosphere that flow in opposite directions and may slow down its spinning.

Some researchers suggest that large vortices such as the Great Red Spot gain energy and survive by absorbing smaller vortices. However, “this does not happen often enough to explain the Red Spot’s longevity,” researcher Philip Marcus, a fluid dynamicist and planetary scientist at the University of California, Berkeley,said in a statement. The Great Red Spot is not the only mysterious vortex.

To help solve the mystery of the Great Red Spot’s endurance, Hassanzadeh and Marcus developed a new 3D, high-resolution computer model of large vortices.

Models of vortices generally focus on swirling horizontal winds, where most of the energy resides. Although vortices also have vertical flows, these have much less energy. Therefore, “in the past, most researchers either ignored the vertical flow because they thought it was not important, or they used simpler equations because it was so difficult to model,” Hassanzadeh said.

The researchers now find that vertical flows hold the key to the Great Red Spot’s longevity: When the storm loses energy, vertical flows move hot and cold gases in and out of the storm, restoring part of the vortex’s energy.

Together, vortices — whether on Jupiter or in Earth’s oceans — may decay up to 100 times slower than researchers previously thought.

Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

(Source: space.com, via we-are-star-stuff)

— 4 months ago with 575 notes
#Jupiter  #great red spot  #gas giant  #storm system  #vortex 

the-science-llama:

The color of the Aurora depends on the altitude and the atom being struck by solar radiation (causing excitation). At higher altitudes, there is more Atomic Oxygen than Nitrogen, leading to the common color stratifications you see.

500-200 km altitude
— Atomic Oxygen — Red
200-100 km
— Atomic Oxygen — Greenish-Yellow
— Ionized Nitrogen — Blue/Purple
100-80 km
— Nitrogen (N2) — Crimson

Oxygen only emits red at higher altitudes because once it’s excited, it takes a longer time to emit red than it does green. Why is that important? Well, at lower altitudes there is more Nitrogen for the Oxygen to bump into and absorb that excitation-energy before it gets a chance to emit red light. In this case, where the collision occurs, the Oxygen will emit Green and at low enough altitudes the Nitrogen-Oxygen collisions eventually prevent Oxygen from emitting any light at all.

During stronger storms, high energy solar particles will reach lower in the atmosphere and cause the Crimson emission from Nitrogen, creating a deep-red band at the lower edge of the aurora. Other elements emit light too, like Hydrogen (Blue) or Helium (Purple) which are at higher altitudes.

Sources and further reading:
WebExhibits
ExploratoriumWindow2UniverseWikiGif source

(via we-are-star-stuff)

— 4 months ago with 14712 notes
#science  #Astronomy  #Aurora  #atmosphere  #northern lights  #aurora borealis