Talk about a close shave. On Feb. 15th an asteroid about half the size of a football field will fly past Earth - "This is a record-setting close approach"

Talk about a close shave. On Feb. 15th an asteroid about half the size of a football field will fly past Earth only 17,200 miles above our planet's surface. There's no danger of a collision, but the space rock, designated 2012 DA14, has NASA's attention.

"This is a record-setting close approach," says Don Yeomans of NASA's Near Earth Object Program at JPL. "Since regular sky surveys began in the 1990s, we've never seen an object this big get so close to Earth."

A new ScienceCast video previews the close flyby of asteroid 2012 DA. Play it

Earth's neighborhood is littered with asteroids of all shapes and sizes, ranging from fragments smaller than beach balls to mountainous rocks many kilometers wide. Many of these objects hail from the asteroid belt, while others may be corpses of long-dead, burnt out comets. NASA's Near-Earth Object Program helps find and keep track of them, especially the ones that come close to our planet.

2012 DA14 is a fairly typical near-Earth asteroid. It measures some 50 meters wide, neither very large nor very small, and is probably made of stone, as opposed to metal or ice. Yeomans estimates that an asteroid like 2012 DA14 flies past Earth, on average, every 40 years, yet actually strikes our planet only every 1200 years or so.

The impact of a 50-meter asteroid is not cataclysmic--unless you happen to be underneath it. Yeomans points out that a similar-sized object formed the mile wide Meteor Crater in Arizona when it struck about 50,000 years ago. "That asteroid was made of iron," he says, "which made it an especially potent impactor." Also, in 1908, something about the size of 2012 DA14 exploded in the atmosphere above Siberia, leveling hundreds of square miles of forest. Researchers are still studying the "Tunguska Event" for clues to the impacting object.

"2012 DA14 will definitely not hit Earth," emphasizes Yeomans. "The orbit of the asteroid is known well enough to rule out an impact."

A schematic diagram of the Feb 15th flyby. More

Even so, it will come interestingly close. NASA radars will be monitoring the space rock as it approaches Earth closer than many man-made satellites. Yeomans says the asteroid will thread the gap between low-Earth orbit, where the ISS and many Earth observation satellites are located, and the higher belt of geosynchronous satellites, which provide weather data and telecommunications.

"The odds of an impact with a satellite are extremely remote," he says. Almost nothing orbits where DA14 will pass the Earth.

NASA's Goldstone radar in the Mojave Desert is scheduled to ping 2012 DA14 almost every day from Feb. 16th through 20th. The echoes will not only pinpoint the orbit of the asteroid, allowing researchers to better predict future encounters, but also reveal physical characteristics such as size, spin, and reflectivity. A key outcome of the observing campaign will be a 3D radar map showing the space rock from all sides.

During the hours around closest approach, the asteroid will brighten until it resembles a star of 8th magnitude. Theoretically, that's an easy target for backyard telescopes. The problem, points out Yeomans, is speed. "The asteroid will be racing across the sky, moving almost a full degree (or twice the width of a full Moon) every minute. That's going to be hard to track." Only the most experienced amateur astronomers are likely to succeed.

Those who do might experience a tiny chill when they look at their images. That really was a close shave.

For more information about 2012 DA14 and other asteroids of interest, visit NASA's Near-Earth Object Program web site:



360 degree view from the world's tallest building in Dubai - click on link

360 degree view from the world's tallest building in Dubai

An interactive image has been created of the 360 degree view from the top of Dubai's Burj Khalifa - the world's tallest building.

Not recommended for vertigo sufferers, the image has been stitched together from 70 separate 80 megapixel images taken from the top of the 2,722 ft tower.

It is possible to zoom in on details of the city, with views both inland and out to sea.

The image was created by photographer Gerald Donovan to celebrate the second Hamdan Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Photography Award (HIPA), which will take place in Dubai in March.

The photographs were taken from the very top of the building - 200 hundreds metres above the 160th floor, which is highest point reachable by elevator.

The observation deck is on the 124th floor. The journey to the very top involves a steep ladder climb within the 200 metre spire at the top of the building.



Of the 461 new planet candidates, 51 of them are in the so-called "habitable zone," the Goldilocks region around the star that's at just the right temperature for liquid water to exist

This is Kepler's field of view superimposed on the night sky.

LONG BEACH, Calif.—Look up on a starry night. Almost every one of those tiny pricks of light is home to an unseen world. Our Milky Way galaxy is full of planets—100 billion or more—and many of those planets are Earth-like rocks (although our solar system still appears to be an oddball). Such are the major findings that astronomers are announcing here at the semi-annual meeting of the American Astronomical Society, where the halls are crackling with excitement as we all bear witness to a hidden, rocky universe beginning to coalesce out of the darkness.

The great explosion of planetary information is coming courtesy of the Kepler telescope, which has been peering at one small slice of the night sky to search for momentary dips in brightness that happen when a planet passes in front of its host star. Kepler scientists announced that they have found an additional 461 planet candidates, bringing the total number of such Kepler-found candidates to 2,740. (These objects all look like planets, but could potentially turn out to be something else like a double-star system upon further examination. "It's likely that 90 percent or more of these candidates are going to be bona fide planets," according to astrophysicist Natalie M. Batalha of NASA Ames Research Center.)

Most of Kepler's new planet candidates aren't the big Jupiter-like planets that early planet scans were sensitive to—they're Earth-like planets or so-called "super-Earths," planets about twice the diameter of Earth.

Of course, Kepler can only find planets that are aligned just so—the planet must pass directly between its host star and us. There's no reason to think that most planets are lined up this way. "For every transiting planet that we identify there are 10 to 100 more that aren't transiting," said Batalha. The question becomes: how many planets are out there that we don't see? The answer: lots.

"Almost all sun-like stars have a planetary system," said Francois Fressin, an astronomer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics who has been exploring statistical models of Kepler data. "If you travel to a sun-like star it will have a planet. We can't say if it will be welcoming, but it will have a planet." What would an unwelcoming planet be? Something very close to its star, and therefore very hot. Those close-up planets whip around their stars in a matter of days or weeks, which means that Kepler has seen them cross in front of their stars many times by now. Fressin's recent work has shown that about one in six stars is home to a rocky, Earth-like planet that orbits its star within 85 days or less. For longer-period planets, we just have to wait for more observations.

What about Earth-like planets with Earth-like orbits? Of the 461 new planet candidates, 51 of them are in the so-called "habitable zone," the Goldilocks region around the star that's at just the right temperature for liquid water to exist. And one of these new planet candidates has all three of the qualities we're looking for in a twin Earth: it's in the habitable zone, it's only 1.5 times the size of Earth, and it's orbiting a sun-like main sequence star.

This last attribute is important, because most stars are not, in fact, like our sun. Most stars in the galaxy are so-called red dwarfs¬¬–small, dim, cool stars that are our galaxy's "silent majority," according to John Johnson of the California Institute of Technology. Red dwarfs make up 70 percent of all stars in the galaxy, and these are absolutely full of planets, says Johnson–on average, about one per star. Summing up all the red dwarfs in the galaxy and all the planets that they host, we can estimate that the Milky Way is home to at least 100 billion planets. "Our solar system is rare among the galaxy's population of planetary systems," says Johnson, "because our star is not a red dwarf." But with 100 billion possibilities to choose from, who would bet that there's one not like us peering back through that darkness?

Earth-Like Planets Fill the Galaxy

By Michael Moyer | January 8, 2013| 21

How many people have been cryogenically frozen?


Cryonics, freezing people in the hope that they might one day be brought back to life once technology has made it possible, is only legal once a person has been legally declared dead.

So technically, it's only corpses that are frozen, not people. The Alcor Life Extension Foundation currently has 111 frozen bodies and heads in storage.

But human embryos are routinely frozen during in vitro fertilisation; 7,200 in 2010 in the UK alone.

Len Wheeler, Glasgow BBC Focus Magazine


New Fliz seat ...see / ride !!

New bike concept uses no seat, no pedals


Bicycle revamped with no pedals or seat...The Fliz requires users to run to build speed.

A pair of German designers have revamped the bicycle without pedals or even a seat, requiring riders to build up speed by running. Much like Fred and Barney do in the Flintstones.

But the "Fliz" is not a homage to the Stone Age cartoon family. Rather, it pays tribute to what creators Tom Hambrock and Juri Spetter  say is the first bike — a velocipede that predates the bicycle we all use today.

"The aim of developing Fliz was to bring a completely new driving experience to everyone," the pair said on their website. Fliz is a reference to the German word "flitzen," which means to speed.

To ride it, users strap themselves into a harness and then build up speed by running and then cruising with their feet resting by the rear wheel.

The designers said the Fliz should not be seen as a fresh option for "overcrowded" urban environments.

They have submitted their invention to the annual James Dyson Award, an international student design award.

 New bike concept uses no seat, no pedals - Video link

Author: Erin Tennant   Source: The Daily Mail



Look at the size of the people !! Giant Crystal Cave

Giant Crystal Cave's Mystery Solved - The largest single crystal found so far is a staggering 11m (36ft) long and 4m (13ft) in diameter! It's "the Sistine Chapel of crystals," says Juan Manuel García- Ruiz.

No, your eyes not deceiving you. This is the Cave of Crystal in Mexico. At a depth of 300m (1,000 feet) below the Naica mountain in the Chihuahuan Desert these beautiful crystal formations can be found. They were formed thanks to the caves being flooded with mineral rich water which was kept at a steady 136 degrees Fahrenheit (58 degrees Celsius). This allowed anhydrite in the water to slowly form into the gypsum crystals you see here.

The geologist announced this week that he and a team of researchers have unlocked the mystery of just how the minerals in Mexico's Cueva de los Cristales (Cave of Crystals) achieved their monumental forms.

Buried a thousand feet (300 meters) below Naica mountain in the Chihuahuan Desert, the cave was discovered by two miners excavating a new tunnel for the Industrias Peñoles company in 2000.

The cave contains some of the largest natural crystals ever found: translucent gypsum beams measuring up to 36 feet (11 meters) long and weighing up to 55 tons.

"It's a natural marvel," said García-Ruiz, of the University of Granada in Spain.

To learn how the crystals grew to such gigantic sizes, García-Ruiz studied tiny pockets of fluid trapped inside.

The crystals, he said, thrived because they were submerged in mineral-rich water with a very narrow, stable temperature range—around 136 degrees Fahrenheit (58 degrees Celsius).

At this temperature the mineral anhydrite, which was abundant in the water, dissolved into gypsum, a soft mineral that can take the form of the crystals in the Naica cave.

Stefan Lovgren for National Geographic News






A meteor has exploded above Wales causing a sonic boom which shook windows and set off car alarms



Sleeping children were woken by a "sonic boom" created as the golf ball sized meteor exploded above South Wales.  

Homeowner Steve Edwards, 56, said: "There was an enormous boom - It sounded like a bomb going off. 

"The force of it shook the windows in my house, woke up my children and caused car alarms to start going off in the streets. 

"I'm just glad none of it landed on my roof." 

Police and coastguards in South Wales had dozens of reports of a bright flash in the sky followed by a loud bang. 

Witness Nathan Jones, 34, who lives in nearby St Athan, said: "I've never seen something so amazing in my life. 

"It had a heat trail behind, It was orange and white and very bright, and also seemed very close. 

"It looked like it was skimming through the atmosphere due to the curved path it was taking." 

The meteor was first spotted in the North West and amateur astronomers watched as it sped towards the border of Wales and the South West. 

Hannah Sabido, 33, who spotted the meteor from her home in Bristol, said: "I first noticed it as a very bright glowing light behind cloud, travelling very fast. 

"It looked like a bright white ball with a long bright tail and possibly a green hue. It was brighter than the moon. 

"It became more orange towards the North East, giving off orange sparks before bursting out." 

The meteor eventually exploded above Cwmbran, near Newport, South Wales. 

Astrophysician Dr David Whitehouse said: "It was a piece of space rock coming into the earth's atmosphere and burning up as it does. 

"It's the size of a golf ball, it's coming in very, very quickly and leaving a bright tail as it vaporizes. 

"It's incredibly bright, it burns at an altitude of 60 to a 100 miles above the earth. 

"So if one flashes across the UK you can see it all the way along its track even if it it only lasts a couple of seconds. 

"It's not unusual for it to be soon for a couple of 100 miles all across the country. 

"Scientists will now be very keen to know if it's survived so they can try and collect it and examine it. 

"As for the rest of us we don't have anything to fear from a meteor or this size, there's no records of anyone having been killed by such a thing. 

"It's very, very unlikely to strike a person, much less likely than being struck by lightning. 

"Very rarely something large will come into contact with the earth, like the one which helped the dinosaurs on it's way - that was the size of Britain. 

"But this meteor is a wonder of nature, something in the night sky to be admired and enjoyed." 

Police in Wales confirmed they had dozens of reports of the meteor lighting up the night sky.