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For the first time, physicists have observed a giant magnetic ‘bridge’ between galaxies 

17 May

Whoa. FIONA MACDONALD 17 MAY 2017 http://www.sciencealert.com

For the first time, scientists have detected evidence of a magnetic field that’s associated with the vast intergalactic ‘bridge’ that links our two nearest galactic neighbours.

Known as the Magellanic Bridge, the bridge is a huge stream of neutral gas that stretches some 75,000 light-years between our two neighbouring galaxies, the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds (LMC and SMC). Although researchers had predicted it was there, this is the first observation of its magnetic field, and it could help us understand how these vast bridges come to be.

“There were hints that this magnetic field might exist, but no one had observed it until now,” said lead researcher, Jane Kaczmarek from the University of Sydney.

Our closest galactic neighbours, the LMC and SMC (photographed below) are 160,000 and 200,000 light-years from Earth respectively, and are visible in the southern night sky.

 

Scientists Still Can’t Decide if Our Closest Earth-Like Planet Is a Fiery Hellscape or Future Home

 

Researchers have long known about the Magellanic Bridge that exists between these neighbours, a path with a few known stars inside it. But until now, very little was known about the magnetic field associated with the bridge.

The team has now shown that this newly detected magnetic field is one millionth the strength of Earth’s own protective magnetic shield – and it could provide some insight into how it formed.

Two of the leading options are that the magnetic field was generated from within the bridge after the structure formed, or it may have been ‘ripped’ from the dwarf galaxies thought to have merged and formed the bridge in the first place.

If a bridge between the stars sounds a little sci-fi to you, keep in mind that most of space is made up of different magnetic fields.

“Not only are entire galaxies magnetic, but the faint delicate threads joining galaxies are magnetic, too,” said one of the researchers, Bryan Gaensler from the University of Toronto.

“Everywhere we look in the sky, we find magnetism.”

The reason we’ve struggled to study this structure in the past is the fact that these types of cosmic magnetic fields can only be observed indirectly through their effect on other structures in space.

In this case, radio signals from hundreds of very distant galaxies was used to pick up the magnetic field associated with the Magellanic Bridge.

Radio signals can be thought of like waves on the surface of a pond, in that they vibrate along a particular plane in space.

 

 

When these radio signals pass through a magnetic field, that plane is rotated, and it allows astronomers to the measure the strength and polarity (direction) of the field.

“The radio emission from the distant galaxies served as background ‘flashlights’ that shine through the Bridge,” said Kaczmarek.

“Its magnetic field then changes the polarisation of the radio signal. How the polarised light is changed tells us about the intervening magnetic field.”

Now that we’ve been able to detect the field, scientists now have a chance to figure out not only how it formed, but the impact it’s had on the LMC and SMC.

“In general, we don’t know how such vast magnetic fields are generated, nor how these large-scale magnetic fields affect galaxy formation and evolution,” said Kaczmarek.

“The LMC and SMC are our nearest neighbours, so understanding how they evolve may help us understand how our Milky Way Galaxy will evolve. Understanding the role that magnetic fields play in the evolution of galaxies and their environment is a fundamental question in astronomy that remains to be answered.”

Even cooler is the fact that this is just one study that’s part of a bigger project to map the entire Universe’s magnetism.

The research has been published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Societyand you can read the full paper for free over at arXiv.org.

 

Source: For the first time, physicists have observed a giant magnetic ‘bridge’ between galaxies – ScienceAlert

 

Defend Your Mother! Dying robots and failing hope: Fukushima clean-up falters six years after tsunami. Happy Fucking Mothers Day!

15 May

 

Exploration work inside the nuclear plant’s failed reactors has barely begun, with the scale of the task described as ‘almost beyond comprehension’

Barely a fifth of the way into their mission, the engineers monitoring the Scorpion’s progress conceded defeat. With a remote-controlled snip of its cable, the latest robot sent into the bowels of one of Fukushima Daiichi’s damaged reactors was cut loose, its progress stalled by lumps of fuel that overheated when the nuclear plant suffered a triple meltdown six years ago this week.

As the 60cm-long Toshiba robot, equipped with a pair of cameras and sensors to gauge radiation levels was left to its fate last month, the plant’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power (Tepco), attempted to play down the failure of yet another reconnaissance mission to determine the exact location and condition of the melted fuel.

Even though its mission had been aborted, the utility said, “valuable information was obtained which will help us determine the methods to eventually remove fuel debris”.

The Scorpion mishap, two hours into an exploration that was supposed to last 10 hours, underlined the scale and difficulty of decommissioning Fukushima Daiichi – an unprecedented undertaking one expert has described as “almost beyond comprehension”.

Cleaning up the plant, scene of the world’s worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl after it was struck by a magnitude-9 earthquake and tsunami on the afternoon of 11 March 2011, is expected to take 30 to 40 years, at a cost Japan’s trade and industry ministry recently estimated at 21.5tr yen ($189bn).

The figure, which includes compensating tens of thousands of evacuees, is nearly double an estimate released three years ago.

The tsunami killed almost 19,000 people, most of them in areas north of Fukushima, and forced 160,000 people living near the plant to flee their homes. Six years on, only a small number have returned to areas deemed safe by the authorities.

 

 

Developing robots capable of penetrating the most dangerous parts of Fukushima Daiichi’s reactors – and spending enough time there to obtain crucial data – is proving a near-impossible challenge for Tepco. The Scorpion – so called because of its camera-mounted folding tail – “died” after stalling along a rail beneath the reactor pressure vessel, its path blocked by lumps of fuel and other debris.

The device, along with other robots, may also have been damaged by an unseen enemy: radiation. Before it was abandoned, its dosimeter indicated that radiation levels inside the No 2 containment vessel were at 250 sieverts an hour. In an earlier probe using a remote-controlled camera, radiation at about the same spot was as high as 650 sieverts an hour – enough to kill a human within a minute.

Shunji Uchida, the Fukushima Daiichi plant manager, concedes that Tepco acquired “limited” knowledge about the state of the melted fuel. “So far we’ve only managed to take a peek, as the last experiment with the robot didn’t go well,” he tells the Guardian and other media on a recent visit to the plant. “But we’re not thinking of another approach at this moment.”

Robotic mishaps aside, exploration work in the two other reactors, where radiation levels are even higher than in reactor No 2, has barely begun. There are plans to send a tiny waterproof robot into reactor No 1 in the next few weeks, but no date has been set for the more seriously damaged reactor No 3.

Naohiro Masuda, the president of Fukushima Daiichi’s decommissioning arm, says he wants another probe sent in before deciding on how to remove the melted fuel.

 

 

Despite the setbacks, Tepco insists it will begin extracting the melted fuel in 2021 – a decade after the disaster – after consulting government officials this summer.

But Shaun Burnie, a senior nuclear specialist at Greenpeace Germany who is based in Japan, describes the challenge confronting the utility as “unprecedented and almost beyond comprehension”, adding that the decommissioning schedule was “never realistic or credible”.

The latest aborted exploration of reactor No 2 “only reinforces that reality”, Burnie says. “Without a technical solution for dealing with unit one or three, unit two was seen as less challenging. So much of what is communicated to the public and media is speculation and wishful thinking on the part of industry and government.

“The current schedule for the removal of hundreds of tons of molten nuclear fuel, the location and condition of which they still have no real understanding, was based on the timetable of prime minister [Shinzo] Abe in Tokyo and the nuclear industry – not the reality on the ground and based on sound engineering and science.”

Even Shunichi Tanaka, the chairman of Japan’s nuclear regulation authority, does not appear to share Tepco’s optimism that it will stick to its decommissioning roadmap. “It is still early to talk in such an optimistic way,” he says. “At the moment, we are still feeling around in the dark.”

‘The situation is not under control’

On the surface, much has changed since the Guardian’s first visit to Fukushima Daiichi five years ago.

Then, the site was still strewn with tsunami wreckage. Hoses, pipes and building materials covered the ground, as thousands of workers braved high radiation levels to bring a semblance of order to the scene of a nuclear disaster.

Six years later, damaged reactor buildings have been reinforced, and more than 1,300 spent fuel assemblies have been safely removed from a storage pool in reactor No 4. The ground has been covered with a special coating to prevent rainwater from adding to Tepco’s water-management woes.

Workers who once had to change into protective gear before they approached Fukushima Daiichi now wear light clothing and simple surgical masks in most areas of the plant. The 6,000 workers, including thousands of contract staff, can now eat hot meals and take breaks at a “rest house” that opened in 2015.

But further up the hill from the coastline, row upon row of steel tanks are a reminder of the decommissioning effort’s other great nemesis: contaminated water. The tanks now hold about 900,000 tons of water, with the quantity soon expected to reach 1m tons.

Tepco’s once-vaunted underground ice wall, built at a cost of 24.5bn yen, has so far failed to completely prevent groundwater from leaking into the reactor basements and mixing with radioactive coolant water.

 

 

The structure, which freezes the soil to a depth of 30 metres, is still allowing 150 tonnes of groundwater to seep into the reactor basements every day, said Yuichi Okamura, a Tepco spokesman. Five sections have been kept open deliberately to prevent water inside the reactor basements from rising and flowing out more rapidly. “We have to close the wall gradually,” Okamura said. “By April we want to keep the influx of groundwater to about 100 tonnes a day, and to eliminate all contaminated water on the site by 2020.”

Critics of the clean-up note that 2020 is the year Tokyo is due to host the Olympics, having been awarded the Games after Abe assured the International Olympic Committee that Fukushima was “under control”.

Mitsuhiko Tanaka, a former Babcock-Hitachi nuclear engineer, accuses Abe and other government officials of playing down the severity of the decommissioning challenge in an attempt to win public support for the restart of nuclear reactors across the country.

“Abe said Fukushima was under control when he went overseas to promote the Tokyo Olympics, but he never said anything like that in Japan,” says Tanaka. “Anyone here could see that the situation was not under control.

“If people of Abe’s stature repeat something often enough, it becomes accepted as the truth.”

 

Source: Dying robots and failing hope: Fukushima clean-up falters six years after tsunami | World news | The Guardian

 

#BecomeUngovernable  – Earth First – Defend the Planet and all its inhabitants at all costs and by any means necessary.  beungovernable.com

Antoine Fuqua To Develop Movie About Black Panther Leader Fred Hampton Okayplayer

10 May

 

 

Source: Antoine Fuqua To Develop Movie About Black Panther Leader Fred Hampton Okayplayer

In a report from Variety, the Training Day director will develop a film based on Jeffrey Haas‘ book The Assassination of Fred Hampton: How the FBI and the Chicago Police Murdered a Black Panther, which has been adapted by Chris Smith.

The untitled movie will be a part of first-look deal Fuqua has signed with Sony.

“I started my feature film career almost 20 years ago at Columbia,” Fuqua said. “Since then some of my biggest career achievements have been with the studio. I am proud of our work together and am very much looking forward to this new collaboration and our upcoming creative endeavors.”

Hampton was an American activist and revolutionary, serving as the chairman of the Illinois chapter of the Black Panther Party. As a talented communicator and effective leader, Hampton attempted to bring together the Black Panther Party with other organizations, something that the Federal Bureau of Investigation saw as a threat.

Ultimately, Hampton was killed at the age of 21 during a raid performed by Chicago police and the FBI at his apartment. While sleeping alongside his pregnant fiancee, Hampton was shot in the shoulder by the police team, and ultimately shot two more times in the head.

His death was ruled as a justifiable homicide by the inquest. A civil lawsuit resulted in a settlement of $1.85 million in 1982.

Prior to this announcement, Fuqua was in talks to direct a remake of Scarface. However, he ended up leaving the film to work on the sequel to his Equalizer movie.

Fuqua will also be working on a multi-part documentary about Muhammad Ali, alongside LeBron James. The series will focus on Ali’s life and career, with the documentary using everything from archival footage and cinematic recreations, to never before seen photos and footage from private collections of the Ali family and others.

#BecomeUngovernable  The “Rigged System” holds no future for the 99% – but a Revolution does – Earth  First – Serve the People – Defend the Planet at all costs and by any means necessary – beungovernable.com

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