Saturday, October 20, 2018
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United States Will be Cut off by Russia from Accessing ISS by April 2019

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Russia will stop shipping U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS) in April 2019, Russian station Kommersant FM 93.6 has reported.

NEWSWEEK

Deputy Prime Minister Yury Borisov reportedly said the return flight of a Soyuz-MS next year “will finalize the fulfillment of our obligation under a contract with NASA.” With new crew-carrying vehicles still under development, the move may leave the U.S. unable to send astronauts to the ISS.

But Sergei Krikalev, director of Russia’s human spaceflight program, told Russian news agency TASS that the country may yet renew the NASA contract. “The next contract is under discussion, but so far there have been no concrete decisions,” Krikalev added.

The U.S. has not ferried humans into space since it ended the Space Shuttle program back in 2011. Its upcoming Space Launch System will eventually launch astronauts on the Orion spacecraft.

NASA is also working with aerospace companies Boeing and SpaceX to launch astronauts from the U.S. The agency wants Boeing’s Starliner spacecraft and SpaceX’s Crew Dragon to carry astronauts into space as part of the Commercial Crew Program.

Boeing plans to perform an unmanned orbital flight test of its technology late this year or in early 2019, an August 2 NASA article stated. The first crewed mission is slated for mid-2019.

SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft is based on the company’s existing Dragon capsule, which frequently delivers supplies to the International Space Station. The first uncrewed test is set to take place in November 2018, with the first manned mission in April 2019.

If successful, the Commercial Crew Program may well reduce the need for the U.S. to use Russian crew delivery services. But both Boeing and SpaceX have faced numerous delays.

These issues may halt U.S. access to the ISS, a July U.S. Government Accountability Office report on the program stated. “There may be a gap in access to the ISS if the Commercial Crew Program experiences additional delays,” it said. “While NASA has begun to discuss potential options, it currently does not have a contingency plan for how to ensure an uninterrupted presence on the ISS beyond 2019.”

But NASA chief James Bridenstine remains optimistic. He recently told USA Today the agency was gearing up to start flying astronauts back into space as early as 2019. “Without question, by the middle of next year, we’ll be flying American astronauts on American rockets from American soil,” he said. “We’re so close.”

At present, International Space Station astronauts typically launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Khazakstan. The facility is leased to Russia. Borisov, who announced Russia’s plans, is the Deputy Prime Minister of Russia for Defence and Space Industry.

Meanwhile, NASA is working with Russian space agency Roscosmos and other international partners to build a lunar-orbiting space station that will act as a “gateway” to the moon and eventually other planets. Although the plans remain controversial, astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti recently told Newsweek the project is the “natural next step in exploration.”

Iran Moves Its Ballistic Missiles Into Iraq in Warning to Enemies

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Iran has previously said its ballistic missile activities are purely defensive in nature.

REUTERS

Iran has given ballistic missiles to Shi’ite proxies in Iraq and is developing the capacity to build more there to deter attacks on its interests in the Middle East and to give it the means to hit regional foes, Iranian, Iraqi and Western sources said.

Any sign that Iran is preparing a more aggressive missile policy in Iraq will exacerbate tensions between Tehran and Washington, already heightened by U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to pull out of a 2015 nuclear deal with world powers.

It would also embarrass France, Germany and the United Kingdom, the three European signatories to the nuclear deal, as they have been trying to salvage the agreement despite new U.S. sanctions against Tehran.

According to three Iranian officials, two Iraqi intelligence sources and two Western intelligence sources, Iran has transferred short-range ballistic missiles to allies in Iraq over the last few months. Five of the officials said it was helping those groups to start making their own.

“The logic was to have a backup plan if Iran was attacked,” one senior Iranian official told Reuters. “The number of missiles is not high, just a couple of dozen, but it can be increased if necessary.”

Iran has previously said its ballistic missile activities are purely defensive in nature. Iranian officials declined to comment when asked about the latest moves.

The Iraqi government and military both declined to comment.

The Zelzal, Fateh-110 and Zolfaqar missiles in question have ranges of about 200 km to 700 km, putting Saudi Arabia’s capital Riyadh or the Israeli city of Tel Aviv within striking distance if the weapons were deployed in southern or western Iraq.

The Quds Force, the overseas arm of Iran’s powerful Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), has bases in both those areas. Quds Force commander Qassem Soleimani is overseeing the program, three of the sources said.

Western countries have already accused Iran of transferring missiles and technology to Syria and other allies of Tehran, such as Houthi rebels in Yemen and Lebanon’s Hezbollah.

Iran’s Sunni Muslim Gulf neighbors and its arch-enemy Israel have expressed concerns about Tehran’s regional activities, seeing it as a threat to their security.

Israeli officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment about the missile transfers.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Wednesday that anybody that threatened to wipe Israel out “would put themselves in a similar danger”.

MISSILE PRODUCTION LINE

The Western source said the number of missiles was in the 10s and that the transfers were designed to send a warning to the United States and Israel, especially after air raids on Iranian troops in Syria. The United States has a significant military presence in Iraq.

“It seems Iran has been turning Iraq into its forward missile base,” the Western source said.

The Iranian sources and one Iraqi intelligence source said a decision was made some 18 months ago to use militias to produce missiles in Iraq, but activity had ramped up in the last few months, including with the arrival of missile launchers.

“We have bases like that in many places and Iraq is one of them. If America attacks us, our friends will attack America’s interests and its allies in the region,” said a senior IRGC commander who served during the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s.

The Western source and the Iraqi source said the factories being used to develop missiles in Iraq were in al-Zafaraniya, east of Baghdad, and Jurf al-Sakhar, north of Kerbala. One Iranian source said there was also a factory in Iraqi Kurdistan.

The areas are controlled by Shi’ite militias, including Kata’ib Hezbollah, one of the closest to Iran. Three sources said Iraqis had been trained in Iran as missile operators.

The Iraqi intelligence source said the al-Zafaraniya factory produced warheads and the ceramic of missile moulds under former President Saddam Hussein. It was reactivated by local Shi’ite groups in 2016 with Iranian assistance, the source said.

A team of Shi’ite engineers who used to work at the facility under Saddam were brought in, after being screened, to make it operational, the source said. He also said missiles had been tested near Jurf al-Sakhar.

The U.S. Central Intelligence Agency and the Pentagon declined to comment.

One U.S official, speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed that Tehran over the last few months has transferred missiles to groups in Iraq but could not confirm that those missiles had any launch capability from their current positions.

Washington has been pushing its allies to adopt a tough anti-Iran policy since it reimposed sanctions this month.

While the European signatories to the nuclear deal have so far balked at U.S. pressure, they have grown increasingly impatient over Iran’s ballistic missile program.

France in particular has bemoaned Iranian “frenzy” in developing and propagating missiles and wants Tehran to open negotiations over its ballistic weapons.

Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said on Thursday that Iran was arming regional allies with rockets and allowing ballistic proliferation. “Iran needs to avoid the temptation to be the (regional) hegemon,” he said.

In March, the three nations proposed fresh EU sanctions on Iran over its missile activity, although they failed to push them through after opposition from some member states.

“Such a proliferation of Iranian missile capabilities throughout the region is an additional and serious source of concern,” a document from the three European countries said at the time.

MESSAGE TO FOES

A regional intelligence source also said Iran was storing a number of ballistic missiles in areas of Iraq that were under effective Shi’ite control and had the capacity to launch them.

The source could not confirm that Iran has a missile production capacity in Iraq.

A second Iraqi intelligence official said Baghdad had been aware of the flow of Iranian missiles to Shi’ite militias to help fight Islamic State militants, but that shipments had continued after the hardline Sunni militant group was defeated.

“It was clear to Iraqi intelligence that such a missile arsenal sent by Iran was not meant to fight Daesh (Islamic State) militants but as a pressure card Iran can use once involved in regional conflict,” the official said.

The Iraqi source said it was difficult for the Iraqi government to stop or persuade the groups to go against Tehran.

“We can’t restrain militias from firing Iranian rockets because simply the firing button is not in our hands, it’s with Iranians who control the push button,” he said.

“Iran will definitely use the missiles it handed over to Iraqi militia it supports to send a strong message to its foes in the region and the United States that it has the ability to use Iraqi territories as a launch pad for its missiles to strike anywhere and anytime it decides,” the Iraqi official said.

Iraq’s parliament passed a law in 2016 to bring an assortment of Shi’ite militia groups known collectively as the Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMF) into the state apparatus. The militias report to Iraq’s prime minister, who is a Shi’ite under the country’s unofficial governance system.

However, Iran still has a clear hand in coordinating the PMF leadership, which frequently meets and consults with Soleimani.

Cutting down on social media is as important for your health as stopping smoking and drinking

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Scroll Free September wants people to give up social media activity for a month

DAILY MAIL

Getting young people to cut down on social media is as important to public health as campaigns designed to curb smoking and drinking.

That is the warning issued by the Royal Society of Public Heath (RSPC), which is encouraging people to participate in the first ever ‘Scroll Free September’ in a bid to stop the negative mental health impacts caused by these online services.

Previous research has found social media use is linked to heightened feelings of anxiety and depression, poor sleep and body images issues.

The ‘Scroll Free September campaign urges people to give up all social networks for a month, starting from tomorrow.

It hopes those who take part will not use the services as frequently after the month.

It follows similar campaigns like ‘Dry January’, which aims to break people’s habits around alcohol by challenging them to stay sober from the month, and smoking-free ‘Stoptober’, which is held in October each year.

New statistics revealed women are more likely than men to take part in Scroll Free September which involves giving up the ‘Big 5’ social media apps – Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter and YouTube.

In Britain, 12 per cent of people who have heard about the campaign (which equates to around 300,000 people) are expected to participate.

‘When used in the right way, social media can have a lot of real positives for mental health and well-being, including improving social connectivity and providing a source of emotional support,’ Shirley Cramer CBE, RSPH chief executive told Sky News.

‘The issue is actually as important as, and in fact in young people, maybe more important, than some of the other public health issues.’

The Rotal Society for Public Health announced that three times more women than men were expected to participate.

This is because social media makes them feel particularly inadequae and they are also more likely to have been trolled.

RSPH spokesperson Ed Morrow told the Telegraph; ‘Image-heavy social media platforms like Instagram can be a particularly toxic environment for young women who are often left with feelings of inadequacy and low self-esteem from the barrage of images of unattainable body image ideals that tend to flood such platforms.

‘This is a problem that has been fuelled by TV and magazines for years, but social media makes it all the more inescapable,’ he said.

HOW CAN YOU SPEND LESS TIME ONLINE?

Being ‘on’ all the time can have a serious effect on our mind and our bodies, which is why a world-famous personal trainer and health author has shared his tips on how to do a digital detox.

Adelaide-born PT, James Duigan, 42, is the former personal trainer of Elle Macpherson and his words are often treated as gospel as he has also worked with the likes of Emilia Clarke, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley and Lara Stone.

Although many of us communicate with people online and check into social media, Mr Duigan believes we’ve never been lonelier:

‘The primary culprit is social media and our mobile phones. They can bring global communities together and provide a ceaseless source of inspiration at their best,’ he said.

‘But at their worst, they can be a constant nuisance, a constant distraction and stop you living in the present.

‘Even a quick scroll before bed can keep you awake at night or send your self-esteem plummeting as you’re barraged with Insta bums and impossible abs.’

Mr Duigan explained that social media platforms have been purposefully built to be addictive as each notification brings along the ‘happy hormone’ with it.

In a blog post on his website Bodyism, James revealed what his top three tips for a digital detox are.

As with any cold turkey experience, it can be hard to wean yourself off social media – but the trick is to replace the addiction with something else.

‘Use an app called Freedom to block your Instagram, Facebook and Twitter apps for as long as you need – or can bear,’ Mr Duigan suggested.

The app allows you to choose how long you want to block certain apps for – which means you can slowly coax yourself into blocking them for longer.

His second step is simple: just log out.

‘Creating that extra step between you and your ‘feed’ will help you resist the lure of mindless scrolling when your resolve is wearing thin,’ he said.

Mr Duigan’s third and final step is to be in the moment and make sure you’re tuned in on what is going on around you.

‘No pictures. No selfies. No boomerangs. No Snapchats. For one day at least. Don’t lose the moment by trying to capture it,’ he said.

‘Live in the moment and it will live long in the memory.’

Polling for RSPH suggests two thirds of people would be perfectly willing to stop using social media but for many peer pressure and the fear of missing out means they continue.

Previous research has found social media use is linked to heightened feelings of anxiety and depression, poor sleep and body images issues.

Claire Murdoch, NHS England’s national director for mental health, said: ‘We need to see concerted action, with everyone taking responsibility, including social media giants, so the NHS is not left to pick up the pieces of a mental health epidemic in the next generation.’

Ms Cramer said: ‘Scroll Free September offers us all the opportunity to take back control of our relationship with social media, whether you choose to go cold turkey, or just abstain at social events.

‘The aim is that by the end of the month, we will be able to reflect back on what we missed, what we didn’t, and what we got to enjoy instead.

‘That knowledge could help us build a healthier, more balanced relationship with social media.

‘We know this will be a challenge because of the addictive nature of social media technology, which is why we need to work closely with the Government and the social media industry to create an online environment that is more conducive to positive mental health and wellbeing.’

 

With Ships and Missiles, China Is Ready to Challenge U.S. Navy in Pacific

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THE NEW YORK TIMES

In April, on the 69th anniversary of the founding of China’s Navy, the country’s first domestically built aircraft carrier stirred from its berth in the port city of Dalian on the Bohai Sea, tethered to tugboats for a test of its seaworthiness.

“China’s first homegrown aircraft carrier just moved a bit, and the United States, Japan and India squirmed,” a military news website crowed, referring to the three nations China views as its main rivals.

Not long ago, such boasts would have been dismissed as the bravado of a second-string military. No longer.

A modernization program focused on naval and missile forces has shifted the balance of power in the Pacific in ways the United States and its allies are only beginning to digest.

While China lags in projecting firepower on a global scale, it can now challenge American military supremacy in the places that matter most to it: the waters around Taiwan and in the disputed South China Sea.

That means a growing section of the Pacific Ocean — where the United States has operated unchallenged since the naval battles of World War II — is once again contested territory, with Chinese warships and aircraft regularly bumping up against those of the United States and its allies.

To prevail in these waters, according to officials and analysts who scrutinize Chinese military developments, China does not need a military that can defeat the United States outright but merely one that can make intervention in the region too costly for Washington to contemplate. Many analysts say Beijing has already achieved that goal.

To do so, it has developed “anti-access” capabilities that use radar, satellites and missiles to neutralize the decisive edge that America’s powerful aircraft carrier strike groups have enjoyed. It is also rapidly expanding its naval forces with the goal of deploying a “blue water” navy that would allow it to defend its growing interests beyond its coastal waters.

“China is now capable of controlling the South China Sea in all scenarios short of war with the United States,” the new commander of the United States Indo-Pacific Command, Adm. Philip S. Davidson, acknowledged in written remarks submitted during his Senate confirmation process in March.

Russia Prepares 300,000 Troops For Its Largest War Games In Nearly 4 Decades

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Amid mounting acrimony with NATO, Russia’s military has announced plans to hold its “biggest exercises since 1981.”

NPR.ORG

The country’s defense ministry says the massive exercise next month will involve some 300,000 Russian troops, more than 1,000 aircraft and the participation of some Chinese and Mongolian military units.

The military drills, known as Vostok-2018 or East-2018, are expected to commence Sept. 11 and last five days near Russia’s eastern border. The vast scale nearly doubles another recent Vostok exercise, which Russia held just months after its 2014 annexation of Crimea — and which at the time, Russian President Vladimir Putin had hailed as “the largest exercises of this kind that we have ever held.”

Speaking with Russian media on Tuesday, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu likened September’s upcoming military exercise to an event buried much further in the past — back to an era when the Cold War was flaring hot.

“In some ways, they resemble the Zapad-81 drills,” Shoigu said, referring to the West-81 exercise that the Soviet Union held not long after President Ronald Reagan’s first inauguration. “But in other ways,” he added, “they are, perhaps, even larger.”

YouTube

Back in 1981, the Soviets were mired in their own rocky invasion of Afghanistan and confronted with the hard-line rhetoric of the new American president.

These days, the U.S. is the country with troops in Afghanistan — but Washington, its NATO allies and the Kremlin are once more embroiled in escalating hostility. That includes the sanctions leveled against Russian entities for interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, a nerve attack on a former Russian spy and the country’s interventions in Ukraine.

As relations between Russia and the West have grown increasingly rancorous, with diplomats on either side expelled in waves in recent months, Russia’s neighbors in the Baltic region have grown increasingly wary. Sweden, for one, has distributed pamphlets detailing what to do “if war comes,” and last year, the country’s armed forces joined NATO powers in their own large collaborative military exercise.

Now, nearly a year after that operation — and nearly a year after the latest iteration of its own regular Zapad exercises — Russia is hailing the approach of more war games.

“Imagine that 36,000 pieces of hardware are operating simultaneously — tanks, armored personnel carriers, infantry fighting vehicles,” Shoigu said in a statement Tuesday, “and all of them are tests in environment closely resembling a combat one.”

In comments to Russian media, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov explained the need for such vast drills by pointing to this “international situation, which is frequently quite aggressive and unfriendly for our country.” In fact, he said, the exercise is “justified, needed and has no alternative.”

And it gestures toward a warmer relationship with China, which has upped its military budget amid rising tensions of its own with its neighbors and the West. According to Russian media, Beijing plans to send more than 3,000 of its troops to participate in the drills.

“This speaks about the expansion of interaction of the two allies in all the spheres,” Peskov added.

“All nations have the right to exercise their armed forces, but it is essential that this is done in a transparent and predictable manner,” NATO spokesman Dylan White cautioned in a statement to the BBC.

“Vostok demonstrates Russia’s focus on exercising large-scale conflict,” he added. “It fits into a pattern we have seen over some time: a more assertive Russia, significantly increasing its defence budget and its military presence.”

Are We Witnessing the Start of Solar Cycle 25?

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UNIVERSE TODAY

What’s up with the Sun? As we’ve said previous, what the Sun isn’t doing is the big news of 2018 in solar astronomy. Now, the Sun sent us another curveball this past weekend, with the strange tale of growing sunspot AR 2720.

We’re currently headed towards a solar minimum, forecasted to arrive in 2019 as the Sun switches over from Solar Cycle 24 to Solar Cycle 25. The Sun goes through 11-year cycles, during which solar activity increases and ebbs in a somewhat predictable fashion. Tracking this activity goes all the way back to the start of the first solar cycle in 1755. Today, simple sketching and counting of sunspot numbers has given way to ground and space-based operations that monitor the Sun around the clock.

As a technology dependent society, it’s important to know what the Sun is doing. Solar flares can spell a bad day for GPS, satellites, and astronauts currently in space. Even airline crew and passengers get a markedly higher dose of radiation during solar storms, especially during polar-crossing, trans-oceanic flights. And an event such as the 1859 Carrington Super-flare would wreak havoc today.

As it comes to a close, Solar Cycle 24 is now the most scrutinized period in solar astronomy… but it has been anything but normal. First, the transition period from Solar Cycle 24 to Solar Cycle 25 was deep and profound, the deepest in over a century. 2008 featured 268 spotless days, and when Cycle 24 finally arrived it was sputtering and lackluster at best, only producing a few notable sunspots.

Now, the transition from cycle 24 to 25 is on track to top that, with 132 spotless days on the Earthward face of Sol already as of August 29th or 55% of the time, leaving some solar astronomers to propose that if the trend continues, Solar Cycle #25 may be missing in action all together…

Or will it?

The growth of active sunspot region AR 2720 defied the overall trend for 2018 before it rotated around the solar limb and out of view, begging the question: has solar cycle #25 arrived? As a huge ball of gas, the Sun does not rotate uniformly, but instead, spins on its axis once every 34 days near its poles, and 25 days near the solar equator.

Two factors come into play with identifying that a new solar cycle is indeed underway: the appearance of new sunspots at relatively high solar latitudes, and the reversal of the Sun’s magnetic field.

The first factor can be seen observationally in white light over the span of a solar cycle, and was first identified by Richard Carrington in 1861 and later refined by Gustav Spörer, in a law that now bears his name. Chart out the appearance of sunspots over time by latitude, Spörer noticed, and you get a tidy ‘butterfly graph’ depicting the 11-year solar cycle from minimum to maximum.

Sporer's Law

An updated ‘butterfly graph’ of successive solar cycles long term, depicting Sporer’s Law. Credit: NASA/MSFC/Solar Physics division.

The second piece of the puzzle had to wait for the arrival of 20th century technology for astronomers to uncover it. It was known throughout the 19thcentury that there was a magnetic component to the Sun, as displayed by the electromagnetic havoc and enhanced auroral activity that solar storms could induce on Earth. In 1908, George Ellery Hale—a pioneer in American astronomy—used the newly installed 60-foot solar tower telescope at the Mount Wilson Observatory to note that spicule swirls around sunspot pairs rotated in opposite directions, much like metal fibers on a sheet of paper in the presence of a magnetic field in high school science class.

Solar Sketch

Early faculae sketches and images by George Hale from 1892, done from Hale’s Kenwood Observatory in Chicago. Credit: Carnegie Astronomy.

Hale used the 9-meter Littrow spectrograph attached to the solar tower telescope to exploit what’s known as the Zeeman effect—where a sunspot spectrum shows either a split or a broadening, evidence of its polarity—to deduce the magnetic field of the given spot. Hale showed that the Sun actually reverses its robust magnetic field every solar cycle, and the reversal period of 22 years whereas the same hemisphere returns to the same cycle is known as the Hale Cycle.

Likewise, sunspot pairs in the northern or southern hemisphere of the Sun show up as reversed in opposition to each other on magnetograms, showing spatial movement of the magnetic fields within the sunspot group, with one dark segment (south polarity, moving inward) and one bright segment (north polarity, moving outward). Remember that swirling action that Hale noted? Well, looking at the magnetogram of a given sunspot, you see either the bright spot leading or trailing the group versus solar rotation, and this flips when the Sun’s poles reverse every solar cycle.

Horace Babcock built and installed the first true magnetogram imager on the 150-foot solar telescope on 1957, allowing him to take the first true magnetogram TV image of the Sun, which took the device about an hour to produce.

Which brings us back to the curious case of sunspot active region 2720. It was indeed showing a bright leading edge matching its southern counterpart (such mixing isn’t uncommon around the time the solar cycle flips) a strike in the ‘for’ category, but its latitude is still pretty low, a strike against. Another anomalous spot seen this past April also seems to have belonged to the next solar cycle.

One thing is for certain: the Sun is a fascinating subject of study, and will continue to surprise. Keep those solar filters handy, watch those magnetograms online, and we’ll see what AR 2720 does when it comes back ’round the solar limb in about 12 days.

(Our thanks to astronomer Karl Battams at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory helping us explain the process of identifying a sunspot’s solar cycle membership!)

 

Earth’s Magnetic Field Can Reverse Poles Ridiculously Quickly, Study Suggests

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LIVE SCIENCE

Like the invisible force shield around the Death Star, Earth’s magnetic field surrounds and protects our planet from the hottest, most statically charged particles the sun can throw our way. This shield — the natural product of molten iron swirling around the planet’s core — has had our backs for billions of years, and prevented Earth from becoming an irradiated, electrified wasteland. Every now and then, though, that shield lets down its guard.

A few times every million years or so, Earth’s magnetic field reverses polarity. Imagine a giant bar magnet inside our planet got flipped upside down; iron molecules in Earth’s outer core would switch direction, the magnetic North Pole would become the magnetic South Pole, and the invisible currents of energy that make up our planet’s magnetic armor would tangle and break, potentially reducing the shield’s protective strength by up to 90 percent, previous studied have suggested. [6 Visions of Earth’s Core]

Luckily, full reversals are uncommon and unfold slowly over thousands of years. (The last full reversal occurred about 780,000 years ago.) But according to a new study published Monday (Aug. 20) in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, partial or temporary shifts in Earth’s magnetic poles can occur much, much faster than was previously thought possible — potentially, within a single human lifetime.

In the new study, an international team of scientists analyzed 16,000 years of geomagnetic history coded into the atoms of an ancient stalagmite in China. This story written in stone told them that once, about 98,000 years ago, the planet’s magnetic field suddenly flipped polarity in as little as 100 years — roughly 30 times faster than the generally expected rate, and 10 times faster than what was thought to be the fastest rate possible.

“The record provides important insights into ancient magnetic field behavior, which has turned out to vary much more rapidly than previously thought,” study co-author Andrew Roberts, a professor of Earth sciences at Australian National University, said in a statement.

In their new study, Roberts and a large team of colleagues from China and Taiwan examined about 16,000 previously undocumented years of Earth’s magnetic history. For their history teacher, they chose an ancient, yellow stalagmite that grew out of a cave in southwestern China between roughly 91,000 and 107,000 years ago. By dating and analyzing the iron-bearing minerals inside the stalagmite,the team was able to detect periodic variations in the direction in which Earth’s magnetic field was flowing at the time those minerals formed.(Magnetic minerals orient themselves in different directions depending on where the Earth’s magnetic poles are at the time.)

The team found that Earth’s magnetic polarity shifted several times during that 16,000-year period, which was no surprise to them. The shock emerged about 98,000 years ago, when a huge shift in polarity occurred in a period of less than 200 years — possibly within 100 years.

“Such an extremely rapid polarity drift has not been shown before,” the researchers wrote in their new study.

Knowing that our planet is capable of such spontaneous magnetic tantrums is important, mainly because our magnetic shield can diminish to about 10-percent effectiveness when it’s in the middle of a reversal. Fortunately, that weakening isn’t enough to threaten life on Earth; after all, Roberts pointed out, the planet’s magnetic field has been reversing periodically for billions of years, and life still persists. Human technology, on the other hand, might have a rougher time coping.

Solar weather events, such as solar flares and solar wind storms, occur when blazing-hot, supercharged particles of energy blast out of the sun’s surface and whiz across space on a collision course toward Earth. Even when our planet’s magnetic field is at its strongest, a powerful enough solar storm can rip right past those defenses and wreak havoc on anything electrical.

That surge of charged particles can garble radio signals, fry satellite and spacecraft instruments, and overload circuit breakers to take down entire power grids. That’s exactly what happened on March 13, 1989, when a massive solar storm crackled through the atmosphere and knocked the power out in Quebec, Canada, for 9 hours. An earlier, even larger solar storm in 1859, known as the Carrington event, reportedly caused telegraph wires to short-circuit all around the United States, throwing off sparks that started fires and electrocuted office workers.

Storms far less powerful than these could cause much more damage if they happened to hit while Earth’s magnetic field was in the midst of a reversal, Roberts said. The result would likely be trillions of dollars in damage to our electrical infrastructure, and right now, there’s no plan for dealing with an event of that magnitude.

“Hopefully, such an event is a long way in the future and we can develop future technologies to avoid huge damage,” Roberts concluded. Keep your fingers (but not your magnetic-field lines) crossed.

Youtube Channel Demonetized! Updates and other Thoughts Coming to my Website

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On August 11th 2018 my youtube channel was demonetized for  using copyrighted content in some of my videos.

ALEX ANSARY

What was interesting was that it followed the ban of Alex Jones of infowars.com by only a few days and I didn’t have multiple strikes on my channel, only 1 at the time from a prominent member of the alt right.  It’s difficult to know exactly why I lost the monetization but those in a witch hunt for Alex Jones might accidentally also confuse my ideas for his.  Although we both are in a similar genre of alternative viewpoints online, I have made a number of videos criticizing his bizarre and insulting behavior to even his former viewers that had the guts to call him out long ago.

In the witch hunt against fake news, many innocent people have been caught up in the crosshairs and I think its possible youtube came up with a excuse to demonetize my channel. Youtube’s auto messaging system  advised me to clean up the channel and reapply for the partner program after September 13th 2018.

Hundreds of videos have been deleted however some particular viewpoints might need to be moved to other video platforms and that is being considered at this time while I backup my entire channel. Maybe that 2005 interview with Alex Jones should come down as well.

I wanted to log in today and make this post and hopefully end a period of inactivity for the channel. In fact, I have wondered if my other niche news based websites should be taken down in order to center my focus on writing on my main website. I do plan on leaving offgridco.com up no matter what and posting some original commentary soon on my off grid thoughts from deep in the green of southern Colorado.

A lot of the events that are taking place now mirror my own warnings given verbally via on my youtube channel about the fake news being used to demonize the real grassroots media outlets.  The entire thing is chilling and has provoked me to consider other means of reaching my audience via printed zines sent out via mail as the digital clampdown continues.

I will be back to my own website, my own platform with many more thoughts and more posts occuring at a regular rate.

Please sign up to my newsletter above on this website. Other tips are welcome.

America’s Mental Health Problem, Relationships of the Modern World

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Suicide prevention is important but are today’s crisis counselors overlooking simple causes and treatments for the issues that bring about what’s called behavior issues or mental health problems? They sure have a box for something I don’t think they really know much about, let around treating.

Some people offering treatment might be mentally ill themselves while regular people without masters degrees in regular society might be more empathic and helpful and or compassionate. This idea is in deeper development.

What is Our Soul’s Purpose within this Physical Reality?

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Alex Ansary on finding our true purpose in this matrix which in some cases is discovering also what we don’t want to do while living here on earth.

ORWELLIAN Nightmare overtakes American Society!

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This was recorded on 8/10/18…just prior to the last eclipse and right before getting the news about the channel demonetization (within a day or so). There’s also some dialogue about nature and spiritual protection.

It’s the Compassion that Defines our Humanity and Soul’s Expression

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What’s often missings from humanity today is a sign of concern for those being wiped off face of the earth forever.

Human Population Centers (cities) are Magnets for Spiritual Parasites

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I believe everything happens for a reason including the experiences that we have.

What are We Doing in this World & Why do We Remain In it?

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Today’s thoughts come from another new hiking trail here in rural Colorado.

Blood moon prompts fresh doomsday warnings

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Next month’s spectacular blood moon will not bring about the end of days, despite the usual doom-mongering.

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED AT UNEXPLAINED MYSTERIES

The striking astronomical phenomenon, which occurs when the Moon is in full eclipse, has been at the center of doomsday prophecies and end-of-the-world scenario predictions for years.

The blood moon that will occur on July 27th is set to last two hours – the longest of any blood moon this century – prompting the usual spate of warnings from would-be doomsayers.

Much of this stems from passages in the Bible, such as the Book of Joel which states “The sun will turn into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and terrible day of the Lord comes.”

On a similar vein, a passage from the Book of Revelations reads “And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and, lo, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood.”

As always however, scientists and astronomers have debunked these claims as baseless myth.

Suffice to say, there is nothing at all to worry about when the blood moon occurs next month.

Just make sure, if you get the chance, to head outside and check it out for yourself.