First time accepted submitter steve_mark66 writes "Australian archaeologists using remote-sensing technology have uncovered an ancient city in Cambodia that has remained hidden for more than a millennium under dense jungle undergrowth. The discovery of Mahendraparvata, a 1,200-year-old lost city that predates Cambodia's famous Angkor Wat temple complex by 350 years, was part of the Hindu-Buddhist Khmer Empire that ruled much of Southeast Asia from about 800 to 1400 A.D., during a time that coincided with Europe's Middle Ages" The Age has a story of its own, with video.
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Thorfinn.au sends this quote from Space.com: "The pervading carpet of perchlorate chemicals found on Mars may boost the chances that microbial life exists on the Red Planet — but perchlorates are also perilous to the health of future crews destined to explore that way-off world. Perchlorates are reactive chemicals first detected in arctic Martian soil by NASA's Phoenix lander that plopped down on Mars over five years ago in May 2008. It is likely both of NASA's Viking Mars landers in 1976 measured signatures of perchlorates, in the form of chlorinated hydrocarbons. Other U.S. Mars robots — the Sojourner, Spirit and Opportunity — detected elemental chlorine. Moreover, orbital measurements taken by the Mars Odyssey spacecraft show that chlorine is globally distributed. [Phoenix principal investigator Peter Smith] said microbes on Earth use perchlorate for an energy source. They actually live off highly oxidized chlorine, and in reducing the chlorine down to chloride, they use the energy in that transaction to power themselves. In fact, when there's too much perchlorate in drinking water, microbes are used to clean it up, he said. Furthermore, seasonal flow features seen on Mars may be caused by high concentrations of the brines of perchlorate, which has a strong attraction to water and can drastically lower its freezing point, Smith told SPACE.com. The high levels of perchlorate found on Mars would be toxic to humans, Smith said."
vinces99 writes "A new analysis shows that world population could reach nearly 11 billion by the end of this century, according to a United Nations report issued June 13. That's about 800 million, or about 8 percent, more than the previous projection issued in 2011. The change is largely because birth rates in Africa have not declined as quickly as had been expected, according to Adrian Raftery of the University of Washington's Center for Statistics and the Social Sciences. The U.N. estimates use statistical methods developed at the center. The current African population is about 1.1 billion and it is now expected to reach 4.2 billion, nearly a fourfold increase, by 2100, Raftery said."
astroengine writes "In the hope of uniting people around the globe in a long-duration project to send a radio 'message in a bottle' METI (Messaging Extraterrestrial Intelligence) signal, a crowd-funded project utilizing a refurbished radio telescope in California has begun its work. Lone Signal is a project initiated by scientists, businessmen and entrepreneurs to set up a continuous radio beacon from Earth. To support the operations of the Jamesburg Earth Station radio dish in Carmel Valley, Calif. (a dish built to support the Apollo 11 moon landing in 1969), a crowd-funding effort has been set up so that for a small fee, users can send images to the stars. If you're content with sending a text message, your first message is free. The radio dish's first target is Gliese 526, a red dwarf star 18 light-years from Earth, but the project will be considering other stellar targets believed to be harboring habitable worlds."
Lasrick writes "Kennette Benedict of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists reviews Pandora's Promise, a new documentary that focuses on environmental activists like Stewart Brand who have gone from vehemently anti-nuclear to vehemently pro-nuclear views. Good points brought up by Benedict that weren't really addressed in the film." From the article: "The flaw in the film's approach is its zealous advocacy of one solution — one silver bullet — to meet the tremendous challenges of providing for some nine billion people by 2050, while also protecting societies from the ravages of climate disruption. The kind of thinking that led some of these environmentalists to single-mindedly protest nuclear power plants during the 1970s and 1980s leads them to just-as-single-mindedly advocate a push toward nuclear power 40 years later."
Wired reports on a disease infecting coffee plants across Central America that could lead to shortages around the world. "Regional production fell by 15 percent last year, putting nearly 400,000 people out of work, and that’s just a taste of what’s to come. The next harvest season begins in October, and according to the International Coffee Organization, crop losses could hit 50 percent." The disease is called coffee rust, and it has been damaging crops to some degree since the 1800s. It's not known yet exactly why coffee rust has become such a problem now, but one of the leading suspects is climate change. "Since the mid-20th century, though, weather patterns in Central America and northern South America have shifted. Average temperatures are warmer across the region, with extremes of both heat and cold becoming more pronounced; so are extreme rainfall events." The fungus that causes coffee rust thrives on warm, humid air, and higher temperatures have allowed it to climb to higher altitudes than ever before. But another likely cause is the way in which coffee is planted and harvested these days: the plants evolved as shade-dwellers, but are now often placed in direct sunlight. They're also clustered closer together, which facilitates the spread of disease. "The integrity of this once-complicated ecosystem has been slowly breaking down, which is what happens when you try to grow coffee like corn."
An anonymous reader writes "Discovered a day before its closest approach to Earth, Asteroid 2013 LR6 came within roughly 65,000 miles of the planet as it flew over the Southern Ocean of Tasmania, Australia at 12:42 a.m. EDT on June 8. Despite being more than half the size of the one that exploded over Chelyabinsk, Russia in February, the 30-foot-wide asteroid posed no threat, according to NASA."
vinces99 writes "Decades of drought in central Africa reached their worst point in the 1980s, causing Lake Chad, a shallow lake used to water crops in neighboring countries, to almost dry out completely. The shrinking lake and prolonged drought were initially blamed on overgrazing and bad agricultural practices. More recently, Lake Chad became an example of global warming. But new University of Washington research shows the drought was caused at least in part by Northern Hemisphere air pollution. Particles from coal-burning factories in the United States and Europe during the 1960s, '70s and '80s cooled the entire Northern Hemisphere, shifting tropical rain bands south. That meant that rains no longer reached the Sahel region, a band that spans the African continent just below the Sahara desert."
An anonymous reader writes "Old school meets business school. From the New Republic: 'The Amish interpretation of the Christian bible prohibits the use of the courts: Except in rare circumstances, the Amish do not sue. This has created a unique problem in the region. Home to the largest Amish community in the world, Eastern Ohio sits squarely on top of the Utica and Marcellus Shale formations, which contain billions in oil and gas recoverable through advances in hydraulic fracturing technology, or fracking ... When it comes to the oil and gas industry, this means that any agreement an Amish farmer makes with a company is, for the farmer, practically unenforceable. A rare case in which the plaintiffs were Amish suggests that Ohio's oil and gas companies know this and have been willing to take advantage.'"
trendspotter writes with news of research indicating that impact events might be responsible for seeding the Earth with reactive forms of the precursors to amino acids. From the article: "Early Earth was not very hospitable when it came to jump starting life. In fact, new research shows that life on Earth may have come from out of this world. Lawrence Livermore scientist Nir Goldman and University of Ontario Institute of Technology colleague Isaac Tamblyn (a former LLNL postdoc) found that icy comets that crashed into Earth millions of years ago could have produced life building organic compounds, including the building blocks of proteins and nucleobases pairs of DNA and RNA. Comets contain a variety of simple molecules, such as water, ammonia, methanol and carbon dioxide, and an impact event with a planetary surface would provide an abundant supply of energy to drive chemical reactions." The paper (PDF).
hansamurai writes with an update to a story we've been following for a while. Jeffrey Feldman is at the center of an ongoing case about whether or not crime suspects can be forced to decrypt their own hard drives. (Feldman is accused of having child pornography on his hard drives.) After initially having a federal judge say Feldman was protected by the Fifth Amendment, law enforcement officials were able to break the encyption on one of his many seized storage devices. The decrypted contents contained child pornography, so a different judge said the direct evidence of criminal activity meant Feldman was not protected anymore by the Fifth Amendment. Now, a third judge has granted the defense attorney's emergency motion to rescind that decision, saying Feldman is once again (still?) protected by the Fifth Amendment. Feldman's lawyer said, "I will move heaven and earth to make sure that the war on the infinitesimal amount of child pornography that recirculates on the Internet does not eradicate the Fifth Amendment the way the war on drugs has eviscerated the Fourth Amendment. This case is going to go many rounds. Regardless of who wins the next round, the other side will appeal, invariably landing in the lap of the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals and quite possibly the U.S. Supreme Court. The grim reality facing our country today is one where we currently have a percentage of our population behind bars that surpasses even the heights of the gulags in Stalinist Russia. On too many days criminal lawyers lose all rounds. But for today: The Shellow Group: 1, Government: 0."
CowboyRobot writes "This week NASA kicks off its second Sample Return Robot Challenge, in which teams compete for a chance to win $1.5 million. Participants must demonstrate a self-operated robot capable of locating and collecting geologic samples from diverse terrain. Eleven teams from the U.S. and overseas gather for the challenge from June 5 through 7 at the Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) in Worcester, Mass. The Sample Return Robot competition is part of NASA's Centennial Challenges program launched by the Space Technology Mission Directorate, which develops and tests hardware for use in NASA's future missions. NASA said the goal of the challenge is to encourage innovation in autonomous navigation and robotics technologies, which the agency could potentially use to explore a "variety of destinations in space" and in "industries and applications on Earth.""
dcblogs writes "The area around and to the southwest of Oklahoma City, where more tornadoes were striking Friday night, 'has perhaps the greatest frequency of tornadoes in the U.S.,' said John Snow, a professor of meteorology at the University of Oklahoma. About 95% of all tornadoes are below EF3 intensity, and only 0.1% achieve EF5, which is what hit Moore earlier this month. To build a data center capable of surviving an EF3, Perimeter Technology in Oklahoma City surrounded the raised floor portion of the data center with 8.5-in. reinforced concrete walls. The data center is in the middle of the building, and around it are offices protected by another 8.5-in. exterior wall. But there's another data center in Oklahoma City that may be able survive 310 MPH winds. The company, Devon Energy, isn't talking about its data center or even confirming that it has one capable of handling these winds. But a contractor has disclosed details."
thecarchik writes "In an exhaustive 6,500-word article on the financial website Seeking Alpha, analyst Nathan Weiss lays out a case that the latest Tesla Model S actually has higher effective emissions than most large SUVs of both the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide and smog-producing pollutants like sulfur dioxide. This is absolutely false. Virtually all electric car advocates agree that when toting up the environmental pros and cons of electric cars, it's only fair to include powerplant emissions. When this has been done previously, the numbers have still favored electric cars. The Union of Concerned Scientists, for example, concluded in a 2012 report (PDF), 'Electric vehicles charged on the power grid have lower global warming emissions than the average gasoline-based vehicle sold today.' Working through every one of Weiss' conclusions may show a higher emissions rate than Tesla's published numbers, but in no way does a Model S pollute the amounts even close to an SUV."
An anonymous reader writes "Asteroid 1998 QE2 has an estimated diameter of 2.7 km. This asteroid will have a close approach with Earth at about 15.2 LD (Lunar Distances = ~384,000 kilometers) or 0.0392 AU (1 AU = ~150 million kilometers) at 2059 UT on 2013 May 31 and it will reach the peak magnitude ~10.8 on May 31 around 2300 UT." Radar images of the asteroid taken Wednesday show that 1998 QE2 has its own tiny moon, about 600 meters wide. Phil Plait explained how the images were taken, and what further information we gleaned from them. 'The very presence of the moon is a good thing. By measuring how long it takes to go around the primary, the mass of the primary can be found using math known for centuries (the more massive the big asteroid, the faster the moon will go around it at a given distance). We also know the size of the primary, so that means we can find its density, and therefore what it’s made of (probably mostly rock).'
An anonymous reader writes "A new study based on observations last September by the Curiosity rover on Mars has confirmed that pebble-containing slabs of rock found on the Martian surface were part of an ancient streambed. The work provides some of the most definitive evidence yet that water once flowed on Mars. '[The pebbles'] smooth appearance is identical to gravels found in rivers on Earth. Rock fragments that bounce along the bottom of a stream of water will have their edges knocked off, and when these pebbles finally come to rest they will often align in a characteristic overlapping fashion. ...It is confirmation that water has played its part in sculpting not only this huge equatorial bowl but by implication many of the other landforms seen on the planet.' According to NASA, 'The stream carried the gravels at least a few miles, or kilometers, the researchers estimated. The atmosphere of modern Mars is too thin to make a sustained stream flow of water possible, though the planet holds large quantities of water ice. Several types of evidence have indicated that ancient Mars had diverse environments with liquid water. However, none but these rocks found by Curiosity could provide the type of stream flow information published this week. Curiosity's images of conglomerate rocks indicate that atmospheric conditions at Gale Crater once enabled the flow of liquid water on the Martian surface.'"
New submitter angelofdarkness writes "Jack Vance died Sunday evening. He was 96. Thank you for the stories and adventures and for influencing the games I still play after all these years. From the article: 'A science fiction Grand Master, Vance is probably best remembered for his four Dying Earth novels, which take place in a far-future Earth where the sun has dimmed and magic has been reestablished as a dominant force. They feature a brilliant picaresque adventure tone, including the unforgettable thief Cugel the Clever, and they were also celebrated in a recent anthology Songs of the Dying Earth, edited by George R.R. Martin and Gardner Dozois. These books contain Vance's characteristic ironic, lightly humorous style, which has influenced generations of science fiction writers." Reader paai points to the official Jack Vance website, and this 2009 profile in the New York Times.
doug141 writes "A scientist proposes the best way to deal with an asteroid on short notice is to hit it with an impactor, followed by a nuke in the crater. From the article: 'Bong Wie, director of the Asteroid Deflection Research Center at Iowa State University, described the system his team is developing to attendees at the International Space Development Conference in La Jolla, Calif., on May 23. The annual National Space Society gathering attracted hundreds from the space industry around the world. An anti-asteroid spacecraft would deliver a nuclear warhead to destroy an incoming threat before it could reach Earth, Wie said. The two-section spacecraft would consist of a kinetic energy impactor that would separate before arrival and blast a crater in the asteroid. The other half of the spacecraft would carry the nuclear weapon, which would then explode inside the crater after the vehicle impacted.'"
cylonlover writes "Science fiction may well become reality with the development of a real life Iron Man suit that would allow astronauts or extreme thrill seekers to space dive from up to 62 miles (100 km) above the Earth's surface at the very edge of space, and safely land using thruster boots instead of a parachute. Hi-tech inventors over at Solar System Express (Sol-X) and biotech designers Juxtopia LLC (JLLC) are collaborating on this project with a goal of releasing a production model of such a suit by 2016. The project will use a commercial space suit to which will be added augmented reality (AR) goggles, jet packs, power gloves and movement gyros."
stoolpigeon writes "How would humanity fare in a universe filled with other sentient races and the technology for all of them to interact? If human history is any indication there would be conflict. That conflict would be between many groups that saw themselves as people and the rest as monsters. What that universe and those interactions would look like is a key theme in John Scalzi's Old Man's War series. The latest offering, The Human Division continues to dig deeply into a wide range of questions about what makes someone a person and how people treat one another at their best and worst." Keep reading for the rest of stoolpigeon's review.