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John Birks, Author at Mirror Daily – Page 14 of 17

Solar Impulse 2, the first solar-powered flying machine to tour the world, began its record-challenging trip on Monday. Departing from Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arabian Emirates, it is scheduled to reach its first pit stop, in Muscat, Oman, in approximately 12 hours. The next programmed destinations are India, Myanmar, China and the U. S. The whole world-circling journey is estimated to take up to 5 months, covering 35,000 kilometers (21,748 miles). Today, it will fly only the first 250 miles (400 kilometers).

The initial plan was to depart on this journey earlier, on the 1st of March, but weather-related warnings determined a week’s delay. The wind blew strongly and dust-storms prevented visibility for the past few days, but this morning the skies were clearer and the machine took off successfully. Meteorologist Luc Truellemans explained that the sandstorms and the sea breezes exceeded the limits allowed for flying in the course of last week, but have now calmed down to manageable strengths.

The heroes of this story, pilots Andre Borschberg and Bertrand Piccard, are set on spending 500 hours in front of the flight panels in the course of this journey. They will control the plane alternatively. Piccard told the press that they both had “butterflies in the stomach” at the beginning of this long-prepared historical cruise (which they started planning about 12 years ago). Borschberg will be the one to fly the first leg of the tour, while Piccard is scheduled to fly the last one and arrive back in Abu Dhabi after nearly half a year. Flying over the ocean is also programmed to be shared between the two pilots: Piccard will fly over the Pacific and Borschberg will lead the cross-Atlantic part of the journey.

Solar Impulse is 72 meters (236 feet) wide across the wings, which exceeds the wingspan of a Boeing 747, but the solar-powered machine far is lighter, weighing only 2.5 tons. The cockpit is relatively small (3.8 square meters, with one seat). The two pilots have stored aboard a week’s reserve of food and water, a parachute and a life raft, as well as oxygen bottles for emergencies.

If this trip is to succeed, it will not be Piccard’s fist record-breaking one: he was also part of the first team who flew around the earth in a balloon without pit stops, in 1999.

To follow the team’s progress, you can look up #RTW on twitter. @andreborschberg and @bertrandpiccard will keep you posted.

image source: Arabian Aerospace

The Pink Floyd member David Gilmour, who turned 69 yesterday (March 6), announced that he will launch another solo album, whose title is yet undisclosed. In September, he will start a short Europe tour to promote the new songs. Beginning in Croatia and including locations as diverse as Verona (Italy), Orange (France), and Oberhausen (Germany), the circuit will end with three nights of concerting at the Royal Albert Hall in London, on September 23-25, 2015. The other locations will be just as glamorous: Arena Pula in the city of Pula, Croatia, Verona Arena in Italy, Teatro Le Mulina in Florence, Italy, Theatre Antique in Orange, France, and Konig-Pilsener Arena in Oberhausen, Germany. Gilmour considers them “some of the world’s most beautiful cities and venues” and says he has selected these Roman-era Theatres in order to suit the atmosphere he hopes to evoke in his new songs.

This being the first solo album that Gilmour releases since the 2006 On an Island, which reworks some of the psychedelic sounds in early Pink Floyd albums into a nevertheless very personal set of songs, fans are wondering whether they will hear a different Gilmour from the one in collective Pink Floyd albums.

The Endless River, the most recent of these albums, has just been launched last November. Containing pieces written by David Gilmour, Nick Mason, and the late Richard Wright, the song collection is regarded by remaining Pink Floyd members as their final word, in a series of albums that began almost half a century ago with Pink Floyd’s first release, the 1967 11-track collection The Piper at the Gates of Dawn, composed by early band member Syd Barett, before Gilmour joined Pink Floyd. Gilmour has been a member since December 1967, his first record with the band being A Saucerful of Secrets, launched in 1968. Gilmour began recording solo albums a decade later, in 1978.

After The Endless River, which earned Pink Floyd their first top spot on the charts in decades, and after former Pink Floyd member Roger Waters’s 2013 “The Wall” tour, which was a roaring success (the highest grossing tour for a solo musician, exceeding the sales of previous record holder, Madonna), David Gilmour’s tour has high expectations to meet.

Some sketches have yet to be finished, Gilmour told Rolling Stone. He’s looking at a few months’ work before everything is put together and he hopes that the final version of the new record will appear in 2016. Gilmour modestly added that the 2015 tour is “an old man’s tour, not a 200-date sort of thing”, which is why the series of concerts isn’t a long one.

Tickets for the concerts have become available yesterday, March 6, and the exact dates are as follows:

Croatia, Arena Pula, September 12 Italy, Verona Arena, September 14 Italy, Teatro Le Mulina in Florence, September 15 France, Theatre Antique in Orange, September 17 Germany, Konig-Pilsener Arena in Oberhausen, September 19

UK – Royal Albert Hall in London, September 23-25.

image source: Inquisitr

A new species of moth was discovered in Australia. Actually, the species of moth is so old, that scientists are calling it a living fossil. The results of the research are published in the journal Systematic Entomology.

The new species of moth discovered in Australia has feathered wing tips, the females are a striking metallic purple color and the makes are golden. This moth actually represents a whole new family of moths and it appears that they are quite primitive.

The researchers who made the stunning discovery are from Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, or CSIRO. They dubbed the new moth Aernigmatinea glatzella or enigma, in short. The most is tiny, only 10 millimeters in length but it has already made a huge impact in the entomology world, as it is believed to be a living dinosaur.

The enigma moth was discovered in South Australia, on Kangaroo Island. So far, scientists only found it there, on the Southern Cypress pine tree, which is also a very ancient piece of fauna.

The lifespan of this new species of moth couldn’t be shorter: in one day, the adult moth bursts from its cocoon, it mates and then it dies.

Ted Edwards, CSIRO researcher, revealed that analysis of the moth’s DNA and also its appearance show that the evolution of butterflies and moths is even more complex than it originally believed. It appears that this new species of moth is turning the entomology world upside down.

Edwards states that aside from the fact that the discovery reinforces the evolutionary relationships between various other primitive families of moth, it also suggests that tongues evolved in butterflies and moths more than once.

The scientists who made the incredible discovery know that further observation and study is needed. Australia seems to be the perfect location for such a endeavor, as it is home to around 22,000 species of butterflies and moths.

Edwards stated that Australia’s fauna is so exciting and the fact that new primitive species can still be found there is amazing. He concluded:

Australia is so rich in moths that vast numbers still remain to be discovered.

Image Source: Entomology Today

Scientists have opened two bottles of 170-year-old beer that was recovered from a shipwreck off the coast of Finland. The reason was to research the ingredients of the beer and make a profile of 19th century beers. The results of the study were published in the Journal of Agricultural & Food Chemistry.

The bottles of beer were recovered from the shipwreck and they have stayed buried 165 feet (50 meters) under the sea for a whopping 170 years. During this time, some saltwater did seep into the bottles and changed their taste and texture, but even so, scientists were able to analyze them and reveal the fact that in their heyday they tasted pretty much like modern beers.

The five bottles of 170-year-old beer were discovered in the Baltic Sea inside the wreckage of a boat that sank off the coast of the Aland Island in Finland in the 1840s. Along with the five bottles of beer, divers also found 150 bottles of champagne.

Unfortunately one bottle of beer didn’t make the trip back to the mainland as it cracked and started foaming. It was revealed that some of the divers mustered up the courage to taste the 170-year-old beer and they said it tasted like beer.

Lead researcher and scientists at the Technical Research Center of Finland, John Londesborough opened two of the remaining 170-year-old beer bottles and revealed that their smell wasn’t too appealing. Apparently, the beer smelled by yeast extract, cabbage, Bakeline, cheese, sulfur, goat and burnt rubber. The reason it smelled this awful was bacteria that seeped inside the bottles and started growing and overpowering the malt, hop and fruity profiles the beers had.

The scientists also revealed that the beers were bright golden yellow, with very little haze, and that they had been diluted by seawater by 30%. They concluded that the beers were stronger than their current alcohol levels of 3.2%.

Indeed, the beers had not been stored in ideal conditions, so how they must have tasted could not be determined, the researchers said. But following chemical analysis, they did managed to find various flavor compounds that are very similar to those of modern beers. In conclusion, beer made in the 1800s did not taste as different as the beer made today.

Image Source: Gizmodo

After last week’s shocking destructions at the Mosul Museum, when ISIS extremists filmed themselves hammer-drilling statues from the ancient city of Nineveh, another tragic devastation happened at the archaeological site of Nimrud. The authors of the damage claim to be following the words of the Quran, but their interpretation of Islamic law is very far-fetched and their actions are aimed at scandalizing the Western world and mocking its values.

Nimrud, by its ancient name Kalhu (or the Biblical Calah), is a city situated in the north of Bagdad, founded more than 3,000 years ago by Shalmaneser I (1274 BC – 1245 BC or 1265 BC – 1235 BC) an Assyrian king of the Middle Assyrian Empire (1365 – 1050 BC). The city is thought by experts to have been already inhabited as far back as 7,000 years ago. Some of the buildings preserved from the ancient settlement, like the palace of King Ashurnasirpal II (who ruled from 883 to 859 BC), were important testimonies of Assyrian architectural techniques, as well as Assyrian sculpting and writing techniques.

The archaeological site in Nimrud was mostly excavated by British explorers, and several objects found there belong to the British Museum now. In 2002, it was listed by the World Monuments Fund as one of the world’s most endangered sites, because the stone reliefs were decaying due to the weather and were unguarded from thieves. Since the war against Iraq broke out in 2003, the site was practically abandoned, because of the failure of the Iraqi state structures. However, according to Ihsan Fethi, a specialist in evaluating damaged archaeological sites and a member of the Iraqi Architects Society, the site was still in a decent condition until now.

Among the most precious artifacts that were most probably destroyed are the winged-bull stone colossi called “Lamassu”, with human heads and beards. Similar statues were destroyed at the Mosul Museum last week. Nimrud was also important for the steles and bas-reliefs showing scenes of war and hunting, as well as mythological creatures like bird-headed genies. The loss of these important relics was deplored by former UNESCO world heritage officer in charge of Iraq monuments George Papagiannis, who considered the Nimrud barbaric destructions a huge misfortune to the work of historical preservation. Iraq’s Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities announced on Thursday that extremists have been using heavy vehicles like bulldozers to smash the ancient vestiges. The Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities regrets the behavior of these barbaric groups, and considers that they are defying “the will of the world and the feelings of humanity”.

image source: Al-Jazeera

Launched in 1995, the DMSP-F13 satellite was part of a network (Defense Meteorological Satellite Program) that contained seven satellites, responsible for gathering meteorological data like infrared cloud imagery, as well as information relevant for oceanography experts. After 20 years of functioning and thousands of hours of weather-related pictures sent to the U.S. military, the satellite’s system collapsed because of overheating. The explosion split the device into 43 pieces of space debris, as approximated by Air Force Space Command, which made the accident public on February 27.

Signs of the DMSP-F13 system’s failure had been noticed previously, when, on February 3, 2015, the controllers in charge registered a temperature spike in the satellite and proceeded to shut down non-essential components. The first public announcement of the problems with DMSP-F13 was made on February 25, by T.S. Kelso, a senior research astrodynamicist for Analytical Graphic’s Center for Space Standards and Innovation in Colorado Springs (Colorado).

Although this is not the first incident of this kind, weather satellite explosions haven’t happened in the past decade. The last similar incident occurred in 2004, when one of DMSP-F13’s sister satellites (DMSP-F11) was blown into 56 pieces of spatial debris.

The loss of this satellite will not impair weather monitoring, because the device had been switched to a backup function in 2006 and was not in use by the National Weather Service or the Air Force Weather Agency at the time of the explosion. Without this satellite, real-time information about weather will be slightly scarcer for tactical users, but since the data it gathered was not being used for weather forecast modelling, the consequences of its breakdown will not affect the general public.

DMSP-F13 was the oldest satellite that worked continuously. It flew at an 800-kilometer altitude (standard for weather and spy satellites) and its orbit was sun-synchronous (meaning that its position changed with approximately one circular degree each day in relation to the celestial sphere, eastward, to keep pace with the Earth’s movement around the Sun).

image source: Urban Legends

Anatoly Kucherena, Edward Snowden’s Russian legal representative, told the press that his client, the former NSA contractor who revealed classified information about several global surveillance programs in the summer of 2013, is willing to return to the United States if promised that he will undergo a fair judicial procedure.

Snowden has spent the past year and a half in a secret location in Russia, the first country who granted him asylum among the 21 countries where he applied for it in July 2013, after the U.S. government had suspended his passport. Although Russia had initially been a transit location before heading to Latin America, where four other countries had promised him asylum, the U.S. fugitive decided, after witnessing the pressure that U.S. officials put on other governments (especially European) to refuse his asylum request, that it was unsafe to leave the Russian territory at that time. In August 2014, after his one-year temporarily asylum had expired, Snowden received a three-year residency permit which allows him to travel outside Russia, but “I suspect that as soon as he leaves Russia, he will be taken to the U.S. embassy” – his lawyer says.

However, the situation seems to be about to improve. Negotiations between Snowden’s lawyer (along with several lawyers from other countries) and the U.S. government might lead to the whistle-blower’s return to the U.S. His demand, according to his lawyer’s declaration, is “that he is given a guarantee of a legal and impartial trial”.

So far, the U.S. Attorney General had only promised that Snowden’s supposed crime will not be punished with the death penalty. Since no further guarantees were yet offered, and since he was accused, on June 14, 2013, of the violation of the Espionage Act and of the theft of government property, for which he could face as much as 30 years of imprisonment, the dissident’s return is still uncertain.

image source: New York Post

A new research has shown how life-forms on Titan could potentially look like. The study that details these findings has been published in the journal Science Advances.

Titan is Saturn’s giant moon that has seas made of liquid methane and scientists have tried to imagine how life-forms could look like on this planet. Because of the methane on the surface of the planet, as well as the methane in the atmosphere, scientists believe that the life would present itself very differently than here on Earth.

Scientists have imagined a new type of life-form, based on methane and oxygen-free that can reproduce and thrive in a similar way as cells that are found on Earth.

Astronomers and chemical engineers have designed a form of life that could actually thrive on Titan’s harsh surface. The only type of life-forms that Titan could harbor, scientists believe, would only be methane-based cells that survive without oxygen.

Shown in the image above, the new alien life-forms on Titan would be made from organic nitrogen compounds and capable of thriving in liquid methane temperatures of -493 F (-292 C).

Professor Paulette Clancy, lead author of the study and chemical molecular dynamic expert, along with graduate student in chemical engineering at Cornell University in the US, James Stevenson revealed that even though they are not biologists, not astronomers, they did have the right tools to imagine such a life-form.

Clancy stated:

Perhaps it helped, because we didn’t come in with any preconceptions about what should be in a membrane and what shouldn’t. We just worked with the compounds that we knew were there and asked, ‘If this was your palette, what can you make out of that?

For better understanding, one needs to know that here on Earth, cells have a water-based membrane that house their organic matter.

Usually when astronomers try to imagine alien life-forms, they imagine them in habitable zones, where oxygen and water could exist, but that doesn’t really need to be the case, as it was shown by Professor Clancy and her team.

The engineers who created the cell called it an azotosome, which means nitrogen body, from azote which means nitrogen in French. This azotosome is made from carbon, nitrogen and hydrogen molecules, all known to exist in the seas of Titan. The next step, scientists believe, would be to demonstrate how these cells would behave in their native methane environment and how they would reproduce.

Image Source: Beforeitsnews

Toyota has just rolled out the Toyota Mirai electric car, a car that runs on hydrogen fuel cells and charges in 3 minutes.

Toyota Mirai is a sleek and affordable eco-friendly car that can run for 300 miles with a 3-minute charge and it also comes with three years of free gas.

Mirai means future in Japanese and the Toyota Mirai is going to be one of the first mass-market cars to run on electricity obtained from compressed hydrogen. This means that its exhaust fumes will be just water vapor. With the hydrogen fuel cells technology, the Toyota Mirai doesn’t need to be plugged in overnight, the user would just need to charge it for around three minutes.

Elon Musk, founder of Tesla Motors and electric-car pioneer, has criticized the tech-forward Toyota Mirai. Musk finds hydrogen a very unreliable source of energy for cars and even called hydrogen fuel cells extremely silly. He stated that hydrogen is too difficult to store, produce and convert to fuel and that this technology diverts attention from better sources of clean energy.

Musk continued:

If you’re going to pick an energy source mechanism, hydrogen is an incredibly dumb one to pick. The best-case hydrogen fuel cell doesn’t win against the current-case batteries. It doesn’t make sense, and that will become apparent in the next few years.

The Toyota Mirai will cost around $45,000 in the United States (which includes $13,000 in federal incentives). Tesla Model S costs $80,000 and drives for 265 miles. The Toyota Mirai will start selling to the Japanese public next month.

Toyota is not the only car manufacturer that has cars running on hydrogen fuel cells, the Hyundai Tucson is available in California and a new car from Honda is set to roll out in 2016.

Toyota is also planning to build more fueling station and it is going to start doing that in California, and that is why the Toyota Mirai is only going to be available here, at first. The state is also investing tens of millions of dollars to build more hydrogen refueling stations. It plans to open up 28 more and it’s already got 10.

Cars running on hydrogen fuel cells need an infrastructure for them to properly function in the American society.

Image Source: Forbes

At the Los Angeles’ Cedars-Sinai Medical Center a baby was born fully encased in the amniotic sac, following a Caesarian section that delivered him prematurely. Being born with the amniotic sac intact is a medical rarity and this is why little Silas Philips has been making the rounds on the Internet.

Silas was born completely en caul, which means encased in the amniotic sac and because this is such a rarity, the doctor had to snap a photo of him with his phone.

There have been a few voices that have been saying that the doctor should have attended to the baby and helping him breathe instead of taking out the phone for a photo, but the doctors stated that the baby was still attached with the umbilical cord to the mother and the sac was intact, so he was still getting his oxygen and nutrients from his mother.

William Binder, neonatologist at the Los Angeles’ Cedars-Sinai Medical Center told the press that it felt like a moment of awe and the people in the room caught their breath. After the initial shock the team of doctors rushed to aid the little one, as he was born three months premature.

Normally, when a baby gets ready to come into the world, the moment is signaled by the rupturing of the amniotic sac, or water breaking. Sometimes, the amniotic sac can get stuck around certain parts of the baby. For example, a part of the sac can get wrapped around the baby’s head and make it look as if the baby is wearing a helmet.

One in 80,000 babies are born inside the amniotic sac, or en caul inside the United States every year. The amniotic sac protects the baby inside the mother, by creating a perfect environment where they can develop and grow.

Usually with C-sections, the scalpel almost always pierces the amniotic sac. When Silas’ mother heard about the news that her baby was born in the amniotic sac, she was shocked and said that he was indeed special.

Little Silas Philips is doing fine and will be released from the hospital around his initial due date, which is in a month.

Image Source: Daily Mail

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