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Only Earth Is a Life Haven

first_imgGalactic Habitable Zone, where a star must be located (09/29/2009);Circumstellar Habitable Zone, the right radius from the star where liquid water can exist (10/08/2010);Continuously Habitable Zone, because too much variety can be lethal (07/21/2007);Temporal Habitable Zone, because habitable zones do not last forever (10/27/2008);Chemical and Thermodynamic Habitable Zone, where water can be liquid (12/30/2003);Ultraviolet Habitable Zone, free from deadly radiation (08/15/2006);Tidal Habitable Zone, which rules out most stars that are small (02/26/2011).Stable Obliquity Habitable Zone (1/12/2012)Stellar Chemistry Habitable Zone (9/08/12)Stellar Wind Habitable Zone (9/19/13, 6/03/14)Inhabitants, creating a biosphere that can regulate the atmosphere (06/06/14)Rotation Habitable Zone (8/15/14)Electric Field Habitable Zone (this entry)Van Allen Shield Habitable Zone (this entry) Here are more discoveries that make it reasonable to think complex life is rare in the universe, and might be unique to Earth.UK Astronaut Tim Peake just returned to earth after six months in space (BBC News). His wobbly legs testify to the atrophy his muscles suffered in zero-G. Overcome by the smells of his native planet, and feeling queasy, he expects recovery to take some time. “It is going to be quite tricky for me to adapt,” he said in a news conference before landing. “It’s probably going to take me two or three days before I feel well. It will take me several months before my body fully recovers in terms of bone density.” Just half a year in space did this to him. Getting to sleep was hard and not particularly restful, Simon Archer says in The Conversation.Muscles wither, bones become lighter just as they do during the process of ageing and the cardiovascular system and vision are affected – all from the human body’s lack of adaptation to microgravity. No wonder: we have evolved over millions of years on Earth with its comforting gravitational pull.Astronauts are exposed to excessive radiation in space. How much? Martin Archer, a space plasma physicist, decided to find out. On The Conversation, he calculated that Peake faced the equivalent of a fatal X-ray dose up there (300 joules), but since it was spread out over months and partly protected by shielding in the international space station (ISS), he didn’t die. On the surface of the earth, we only get 0.07 joules in six months, less than four thousandths Archer’s calculation – and that’s at an altitude partly protected by the earth’s magnetic field. The implications are clear:Of course long-term exposure is very different from a short intense burst. Only astronauts who spent the entirety of those six months on a spacewalk would in fact get this lethal dose – the ISS itself helps shield them. In practice, this shielding helps limit their overall exposure to about a year’s worth of radiation that we get on Earth per day, meaning it is still some 365 times higher. Nevertheless, it’s a staggering comparison and really highlights the challenges to manned spaceflight that we’re currently facing. In interplanetary space, the radiation is even more dangerous. Here’s a concern that sci-fi screenwriters routinely ignore:But for missions further away from the Earth’s protective magnetic field, cosmic rays would be more of a problem. On its journey to Mars, the Curiosity rover provided crucial data on this and it was higher than expected. A round-trip manned mission to Mars would expose the astronauts to up to four times the advised career limits for astronauts of radiation due to galactic cosmic rays.OK, so astrobiologists will admit that life needs a planetary surface and possibly a magnetic field. What else? Science Daily adds a second rinse to the the widely-accepted requirement for water. If life is to have the complex molecules we know from living cells, water is needed to get them to fold properly. Proteins fold because the push-and-pull jostling of water molecules helps them find their native configurations quickly – assuming, of course, that the amino acids are properly sequenced. Dingping Zhong explains what his team at Ohio State found:“Here, we’ve shown that the final shape of a protein depends on two things: water and the amino acids themselves. We can now say that, on ultrafast time scales, the protein surface fluctuations are controlled by water fluctuations. Water molecules work together like a big network to drive the movement of proteins.“We’re down to rocky planets with magnetic fields and water. What else? Better have a quiet star. Joshua Sokol at New Scientist showed an artist conception of a star blasting a young planet with the kind of radiation sun-grazing comets get. An exoplanet named KIC 12557548b in Cygnus orbits so close to its star, he says, starspots with strong magnetic fields focus death rays at it. His description of the punishment the planet gets is not pretty.At the planet’s surface, radiation from the nearby star is hot enough to vaporise layers of exposed rock, after which a wind of charged particles – also from the star – blows that vapour into space.Star spots may increase the devastation. These dark patches, where the star’s magnetic field is concentrated, may act as death rays, blasting out more material when the planet passes in front of them. This could happen either because these patches emit high-energy radiation that can better chip into the rock, or because the swirling magnetic fields around them help yank the vapour into orbit.The star is peeling away the poor planet like the layers of an onion. It’s enough to make one cry.Venus, our planetary “twin”, is not a pretty place, either, as we found at the dawn of the space age. Here’s another factor that affects habitability: electric fields. In a video clip on Space.com, Goddard space scientist Glyn Collinson tells about his “amazing and shocking” discovery that Venus has “monster electric fields” strong enough to strip oxygen atoms from the planet. Even if Venus had started with water like Earth, therefore, it would have lost it all due to this process. His work was published in Geophysical Research Letters. In its review, Science Daily says that scientists don’t know why the electric field at Venus is so strong, five times that on Earth:Co-author, Professor Andrew Coates of the UCL MSSL, who leads the electron spectrometer team, said, “We’ve been studying the electrons flowing away from Titan and Mars as well as from Venus, and the ions they drag away to space to be lost forever. We found that over 100 metric tons per year escapes from Venus by this mechanism — significant over billions of years. The new result here is that the electric field powering this escape is surprisingly strong at Venus compared to the other objects.Titan loses 7 metric tons per year, by comparison. This adds another concern when assessing habitability of a planet:Understanding the role played by planet’s electric winds will help astronomers improve estimates of the size and location of habitable zones around other stars. “Even a weak electric wind could still play a role in water and atmospheric loss at any planet,” said Alex Glocer of NASA Goddard, a co-author on the paper. “It could act like a conveyor belt, moving ions higher in the ionosphere where other effects from the solar wind could carry them away.“Keeping score, we need a rocky planet with water, a weak electric field, and a safe distance from solar magnetic storms. What else? How about not one – not two – but three Van Allen belts? Science Daily tells about how the puzzling “third Van Allen belt” is created by a “space tsunami” of sorts. Intense solar storms create this third belt, resulting in the “transport [of] the outer part of the belt radiation harmlessly into interplanetary space.” We earthlings might suffer fluctuations in the power grid and damage to satellites, but we don’t die.The most numerous stars in the universe are the red dwarfs. We already knew that they were unlikely hosts for habitable planets, but more bad news was just announced by Astrobiology Magazine. New calculations show that “the width of the habitable zone around M-dwarf stars is not as wide as previously thought” due to Coriolis force heating as a function of orbital radius. That’s in addition to the problem that planets orbiting M-dwarf stars are likely to be tidally locked, with one hemisphere scorched by its star and the back side freezing cold. Ravi Kumar Kopparapu at Goddard Space Flight Center is trying to refine the habitable zones of these stars, and he’s not done yet. “His proposal will update our understanding of how water vapor can absorb incoming radiation from the star,” the article ends. “This can influence the warmth of a planet and further reduce the width of the habitable zone.” Goldilocks would have to get very, very lucky with the red dwarfs.OK, we didn’t prove Earth is unique, but these articles sure give food for thought about how perfect our planet is in every way… almost like it was designed. If the majority of stars lack the requirements to host life, how many are left?Let’s add #13 and #14 to the list of habitability requirements: (Visited 51 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

Natalie du Toit: ability of mind

first_imgWould you like to use this article in your publication or on your website? See: Using SAinfo material 12 September 2012 When Natalie du Toit announced her retirement from competitive sport on completing her programme at the 2012 London Paralympic Games, she did so not only as the most successful South African Paralympian of all time, but as one of the most important figures in the history of disability sport. She was a trailblazer, who raised the bar and showed what was possible for people with disabilities by also competing successfully against able-bodied athletes.Accident ‘only increased my determination’ Back in 2001, still a teenager, Du Toit was one of the rising stars on the South African swimming scene, having narrowly missed out on qualifying for the 2000 Sydney Olympics, when she was involved in an accident on her scooter when returning from a swimming practice. Her left leg was amputated below the knee, but that didn’t keep her down, and she ended up encouraging tearful family members while recovering in hospital – and within a few months of leaving hospital was back in the swimming pool. In an interview with William Rowland published on Disability World in early 2004, Du Toit said that her accident had only served to increase her determination. Back in the pool within four months after her operation, she spent the first week swimming alone.‘It’s important to swim your own race’ “After a week I started with the squad, but in the first lane”, she told Rowland. “It was not nice seeing little babies beat you; so I just had to train harder … get up with the guys … get up with the seniors … get back to the level I was swimming at before.” Du Toit switched to longer events – from 200m and 400m individual medley to 800m and 1 500m freestyle – to make up for her loss of speed with only one leg. She especially struggled with starts throughout the rest of her career, but she made no adjustment to her mental outlook. “There’s really no line between able-bodied and disabled swimming … I treat both of them the same. They’re your opponents and you’ve got to race the way you train. It is important to swim your own race and not someone else’s,” she said.2002 Commonwealth Games The year after she had part of her left leg amputated, Du Toit was back in action and participating in a major event, the 2002 Commonwealth Games in Manchester, England. She was 18 years old at the time. She qualified for the 800 metres freestyle final – the first time in history that an athlete with disability had qualified for the final of an able-bodied event – and also won gold in the multi-disability 50m and 100m freestyle, both in world record times. At the closing of the Games in Manchester, she was presented with the first David Dixon award for the Outstanding Athlete of the Games – a unanimous choice ahead of Australia’s Ian Thorpe, despite his winning six gold medals and setting a new 400m freestyle world record. After the Games, she was also awarded the Western Cape Golden Cross. During the awards ceremony, then Western Cape Premier Marthinus van Schalkwyk said she had gone “beyond gold and swam her way into the hearts of not only South Africans but the whole world”. In 2003, she swam in the All-Africa Games against able-bodied swimmers and won gold in the 800 metres freestyle. At the Afro-Asian Games in the same year, up against able-bodied swimmers once more, she took silver in the 800m freestyle and bronze in the 400m freestyle.2004 Paralympic Games The following year she took part in the Paralympic Games in Athens. South Africa won 11 medals in the pool, six of them gold, four silver and one bronze. Du Toit was responsible for five of those gold medals and a silver medal. Swimming in the S9 class, she raced to victory in the 50m, 100m and 400m freestyle, the 100m butterfly and 200m individual medley. She also took second place in the 100m backstroke. In a television series aired on the national broadcaster, SABC, in September 2004, she was in 48th place on the list of 100 Greatest South Africans, four places ahead of 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games double gold medallist Penny Heyns. In 2005, she won three gold medals at the Paralympic World Cup in Manchester. The following year, at the 2006 International Paralympic Committee World Swimming Championships in Durban, Du Toit won six gold medals, including an incredible third place overall (men and women) in the five-kilometre open water event.2008 Olympic Games While she had conquered the world of disability sport, she still had a burning desire to compete in the Olympic Games, which she had first dreamed of as a young child. In August 2008, Du Toit achieved her goal when she became the first amputee in over a century to compete in the Olympics. She booked her place in the Games in May of that year when, needing to finish in the top 10 to qualify for the Olympics, she finished fourth in the 10-kilometre race at the World Open Water Swimming Championships in Seville, Spain. She crossed the finishing line only five seconds behind the winner, Larisa Ilchenko, who went on to win gold in Beijing. Despite a disadvantage that some likened to a kayaker paddling with a single-bladed paddle, she earned her place in the biggest sporting event of them all, where she went on to finish 16th. She made more history in Beijing by becoming the first athlete to carry her country’s flag at the opening ceremonies of both the Olympics and Paralympics.2008 Paralympics At the Beijing Paralympic Games that followed, Du Toit won all five events she entered – the 100m butterfly, 200m individual medley, 50m freestyle, 100m freestyle, and 400m freestyle. She was also awarded the Whang Youn Dai Achievement Award, which is presented at every Paralympic Games to one male and one female who best exemplifies the spirit of the Games and inspires and excites the world. Du Toit’s selection for the award spoke volumes about the inspirational role she had taken on, not just for disabled people, but for able-bodied people also, throughout the world. In 2009, she was accorded the highest honour her country could award her with when she received the Order of Ikhamanga in Gold “for her exceptional achievements in swimming.”Laureus award In March 2010, she became the second South African after Ernst van Dyk to be named the Laureus World Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability. “It’s people like Natalie that provide the incentive for the youngsters to aspire to greatness”, said South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee president Gideon Sam. “She fully deserves this acknowledgement.” Later that year, she was the most outstanding athlete in the International Paralympic Committee’s Swimming World Championships in Eindhoven, The Netherlands. She won six gold medals, one silver and one bronze medal. Only three countries bettered her personal haul of six gold medals in women’s events. To put an exclamation point on her excellence, she ended on a high by dominating the five-kilometre open water swim, finishing six minutes and 26 seconds ahead of the second placed Elodie Lorandi of France. Not only did she finish first among the swimmers in classes S1 to S10, she also bettered the best time swum by a man in the event: one hour, one minute and 13 seconds, which was posted by Australia’s Brendan Hall!‘I gave everything’ The 2012 London Paralympics were Du Toit’s swansong. She admitted she was not at her best, but she remained classy throughout despite taking on a big programme of seven events. Even then, she emerged as the most successful South African athlete of the Games, winning gold medals in the 400m freestyle, 100m butterfly and 200m individual medley. She also added a silver medal in her last race, the 100m freestyle. After that last event, she told reporters: “I look back and realise I gave everything in the pool and gave everything as a person. It’s time to move on. I’ve no idea what’s next.”last_img read more

Swashbuckling Black Sails makes a splash

first_imgBig-budget pirate series ‘Black Sails’ was shot at the Cape Town Film Studios. Photo: Starz 27 January 2014Black Sails, the new pirate adventure series from executive producer Michael Bay (Pearl Harbour, Armageddon), premiered on US television on 25 January.The big budget series was written by Jonathan Steinberg as a prequel to the Robert Louis Stevenson children’s classic Treasure Island. Set in the Caribbean in 1715, Black Sails tells a gritty tale in a world that has the trappings of civilization but few of its rules.The eight-episode first season was shot at the Cape Town Film Studios – where filming of the second season is already under way.The set in Cape Town is, the Los Angeles Times says, a “massive backlot that contains a beach, a water tank with a life-size replica of an actual pirate ship and a fully functioning pirate town that stands in for the remote Bahamas outpost of New Providence Island”.last_img read more

Trade Contractor Management: Creating Programs That Work

first_imgWay back when I was a contractor, I always found it useful to develop well-organized systems to use in running our business. Whenever I was asked the same question twice, it was time to create standards and procedures for employees and trade contractors to refer to.I called these the gifts that kept on giving: once you had them you could stop trying to remember what you said the last time and just refer people to the appropriate documents. Eventually they learn, and the questions become less frequent.Now, these gifts don’t come easily. They almost always take time to put together, troubleshoot, revise, implement, and then, most importantly, make sure that everyone uses them properly and consistently. There is nothing worse that putting together a great program only to have it ignored and abandoned. Procedures must be effective, efficient, and usedAs a manager, it is your job to create effective policies and procedures – ones that work and produce measurable results – and to enforce compliance with them throughout the company. Company policies and procedures that don’t improve your productivity, comply with legal requirements, or provide you with information you can use are busy work and should be scrapped. Good policies and procedures that are ignored deprive you of increased productivity and data that you need to run your business better.One of the best procedures we developed at my firm, SawHorse, Inc., was a trade contractor management program. At the time we put this together, we were running about 25 to 30 projects at any one time with six project managers and a small field staff of carpenters and laborers, the majority of our work being performed by trade contractors.We needed a way to get both consistent quality work and manage the flow of information from proposals to invoices to payments smoothly. We already had in place good policies for invoicing and payments – invoices were due by a specific day and time every two weeks and checks were issued the week following receipt of invoices. We had moved from weekly payments to bi-monthly, saving our accounting department a lot of time and effort in the process. Click here to read the next article in this series RELATED ARTICLES Trade Contractor Management — Part 2Trade Contractor Management — Part 3Trade Contractor Management — Part 4Trade Contractor Management — Part 5 Deciding to decideWhat we didn’t have, however, was as good, consistent set of specifications for our trade contractors’ work, nor did we have a good process to inspect and confirm that the work was being done properly. We decided that we needed to fill this gap and made the decision to devote the time and energy to making it happen.In setting out to create a system to manage our trade contractors, we outlined a program that included standard written construction specifications and a set of steps that required trade contractors to inspect their own work as well as have it inspected by our project managers prior to payments being released.Putting this system together was no small feat – it took several months and hundreds of hours of work. We came up with a set of checklists and a written policy that we used to manage our trade contractors. We explained it, announced it in advance, used it for a test period, made some adjustments, and successfully implemented it quickly and with a minimum amount of disruption.This article is the first in a series that will cover the steps we took putting this system in place, hiccups in the process, a detailed discussion of how the system works, and suggestions on how to create a process like this in your own company. If you just can’t wait to get started on your own trade contractor management program, GBA Pro members can download the full set of checklists here. If you are not a GBA Pro member, and do not want to become one, you can go to my website and buy the full set of checklists. The set includes 26 individual checklists for most standard residential construction trades in Excel format along with a suggested procedure. You can personalize and edit each page as you see fit.last_img read more

Rumble Strips and Feedback

first_img Essential Reading! Get my first book: The Only Sale Guide You’ll Ever Need “The USA Today bestseller by the star sales speaker and author of The Sales Blog that reveals how all salespeople can attain huge sales success through strategies backed by extensive research and experience.” Buy Now You know how you are sometimes driving down the road and you run a little bit off course? Rumble strips are those lines carved into the side of the road that create a loud noise and vibration. They are they to provide you with the feedback that you’re slightly off the road. Without rumble strips you might run off the road–or far enough onto the shoulder–that something bad happens. Rumble strips also tell you to slow down on freeway off-ramps, that you are going too fast to safely exit.Rumble strips are annoying. They’re designed to get your attention and provide feedback when feedback is necessary.Your Rumble Strips Are QuietAll of the results that you’re generating in sales and business also come with feedback. But most of the feedback doesn’t easily command your attention.When things are working the feedback is positive. You’re winning opportunities. You’re improving. Things are moving forward for you fast. No alarm bells are sounding. But you’re also provided feedback when things aren’t working quite so well. Even this feedback may not garner your attention.When your dream clients aren’t responding to your attempts to capture their time and attention it’s feedback that what you’re doing isn’t creating value for them. Their silence is feedback. That silence should jar you to action just like rumble strips.When your pipeline is shallow, when you don’t have enough opportunities, it’s feedback that your prospecting efforts aren’t working. Maybe it’s feedback that what you’re doing isn’t working, but maybe it’s feedback that you just aren’t doing enough. Either way, it’s feedback that you need to make some adjustment to what you’re doing, that you’re off course.When your inside team struggles to execute on what you sold it might be feedback that you’re giving them a poor handoff. Or it might also mean that you’re selling something that your team can’t easily deliver. Maybe your team just needs your help selling inside to acquire the resources they need to execute. More feedback, if you are keen enough to observe the noise your team makes.The results that you’re producing, good or bad, come with feedback. That uncomfortable feeling you get when things aren’t working is like driving over rumble strips. It’s supposed to warn you, to jar you loose from your comfortable state and make you aware that you need to change. It means you’re slightly (or seriously) off course and need to make corrections.Pay attention to the rumble strips. Pay attention to the feedback (and remember sometimes the feedback is silence).QuestionsWhat kind of feedback are you receiving?How do you know when you’re slightly off course?What kind of warnings do yo get that you are going to fast for your client, that your speed is jeopardizing an opportunity?Like driving, are you normally way off course, or does a slight correction make an enormous difference?last_img read more

Despite Lok Sabha debacle, Opposition in Maharashtra to fight Assembly polls together

first_imgThe Opposition parties on Tuesday agreed to keep their alliance on track for the Assembly polls due later this year, despite the drubbing it received by the BJP-Shiv Sena alliance in the Lok Sabha polls in Maharashtra. “We reflected on the Lok Sabha poll results and discussed the Assembly polls. We, in general, agreed to come together. We are yet to discuss things in detail and take final decision,” Maharashtra Congress committee president Ashok Chavan told reporters after the meeting.The Congress leader, who lost from Nanded, blamed the Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi (VBA) formed by Prakash Ambedkar and AIMIM for the defeat of the opposition alliance. He said the situation would have been better had the VBA joined the anti-BJP parties.Asked whether opposition would approach the VBA for an alliance, Mr. Chavan said, “The main issue is whether they are willing to be part of the grand alliance. We had tried last time, but they did not come together.” He however added that there was no discussion on aligning with Raj Thackeray-led MNS for the Assembly polls.He also said that the BJP was trying to poach Congress and NCP legislators, but would not succeed. Asked whether senior party leader Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil is joining the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), he said, “Technically, he (Vikhe Patil) is still a member of the Congress. It is likely he may join the ruling party. I don’t think our MLAs will join the BJP. The BJP is trying to poach Congress or NCP MLAs. But I don’t think it will happen, we are being alert,” he added.Meanwhile, Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana leader Raju Shetti, who also attended the meeting, said he met Mr. Thackeray earlier in the day.“We shared our views. He had addressed a rally for me during the Lok Sabha polls. Hence, I met him after coming here,” said Mr. Shetti, who lost from Hatkanangale. The meeting was also attended by NCP leaders Jayant Patil, Ajit Pawar and Dhananjay Munde, CPI leader Prakash Reddy, Ashok Dhawale of the CPI(M) and the Samajwadi Party leader Abu Azmi.last_img read more

New names in nat’l pool?

first_imgLATEST STORIES Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. Cayetano to unmask people behind ‘smear campaign’ vs him, SEA Games MOST READ 1 dead in Cavite blast, fire What ‘missteps’? Heart Evangelista admits she’s pregnant… with chicken WATCH: Firefighters rescue baby seal found in parking garage View comments World’s 50 Best Restaurants launches new drinking and dining guide Ubas continues making waves Trending Articles PLAY LIST 00:50Trending Articles02:49World-class track facilities installed at NCC for SEA Games03:07PH billiards team upbeat about gold medal chances in SEA Games05:25PH boxing team determined to deliver gold medals for PH03:04Filipino athletes share their expectations for 2019 SEA Games00:45Onyok Velasco see bright future for PH boxing in Olympics02:25PH women’s volleyball team motivated to deliver in front of hometown crowd01:27Filipino athletes get grand send-off ahead of SEA Games00:36Manny Pacquiao part of 2019 SEA Games opening ceremony Four more players are expected to be included in the squad gearing up for the Southeast Asian Games and the Asian Seniors, sources inside the Larong Volleyball sa Pilipinas revealed Tuesday.The development was reportedly spurred by certain players’ frequent absences in practice, citing their games with their respective teams in the ongoing Philippine Superliga All-Filipino Conference.ADVERTISEMENT Already, the names being floated include Ria Meneses, Mar-Jana Phillips, Majoy Baron, Shawna Lei-Santos, EJ Laure, Bernadeth Pons, who are all playing in the PSL.But sources said the LVPI might tap Premier Volleyball League stars Grethcel Soltones and Myla Pablo. As it is, the PVL only has one player in the 14-man roster, Alyssa Valdez.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSSEA Games: Biñan football stadium stands out in preparedness, completionSPORTSPrivate companies step in to help SEA Games hostingSPORTSMalditas save PH from shutoutThe national pool has already undergone a major change, with Kim Kiana Dy included in the team replacing Rachel Anne Daquis. Lacson: SEA Games fund put in foundation like ‘Napoles case’ Sports Related Videospowered by AdSparcRead Next Pagasa: Kammuri now a typhoon, may enter PAR by weekendlast_img read more

SRK makes Sachin dance

first_imgSRKThe badshah of Bollywood has always known how to make people dance to his tunes, but master blaster Sachin Tendulkar was surely a first for him too.Shah Rukh Khan had flown down from Berlin, where he was busy shooting for Don 2, to attend the second edition of the Sahara Sports Awards on October 30. At the event, he got the cricketer to match steps with him during a dance performance. When we contacted SRK to ask how he managed to make it to the show, he replied: “I made it because I really like sports. I wanted to see all the renowned sportspersons of our country under one roof.”last_img