Researchers Suggest Vikings Used Crystals With Sun Compass To Steer At Night

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A team of researchers working in Hungary has proposed that a Sun compass artifact found in a convent in 1948 might have been used in conjunction with crystals to allow Vikings to guide their boats even at night. In their paper published in Proceedings of the Royal Society A: Mathematical,…

A team of researchers working in Hungary has proposed that a Sun compass artifact found in a convent in 1948 might have been used in conjunction with crystals to allow Vikings to guide their boats even at night. In their paper published in Proceedings of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical & Engineering Sciences, the team describes theories they’ve developed that might explain how Viking sailors were able to so accurately sail to places such as Greenland.

Since the discovery of the sun compass fragment, researchers have theorized that Viking sailors used them to plot their course—at least when the Sun was shining. They didn’t have magnetic compasses, however, which suggest they must have had some other means for steering in the evening or the later hours. In this latest effort, the researchers describe a scenario where the Vikings might have used a type of crystal that they called a sunstone to help them use light from the sun below the horizon as a guide.

The Sun compass fragment, prior research has suggested, operated in similar fashion to a sundial, using the position of the Sun to determine direction, instead of time.

Some have suggested the Vikings also used a dome shaped object with slits in it, placed on top of the compass to help narrow the light during the time when the Sun moved low towards the horizon. The researchers in Hungary are now suggesting that they also added calcite stone crystals for use after the Sun went below the horizon. They’ve conducted tests which show that the crystals can be used to note where the Sun is after it’s passed below the horizon, because they direct ultraviolet light into patterns inside the stone, which can be seen by the human eye. If such stones were used, the Vikings could have used them all night long in the northern latitudes as it never goes completely dark.

The researchers back up their theory by noting that Viking literature is rife with references to Sun stones, though none have ever been “officially” discovered. One crystal has been found amongst navigational tools on a sixteenth century sunken ship, but no one has been able to prove it was actually used as a navigational aid.

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Massive Storm Hits Argentina, 2,000 Evacuated

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A massive storm hit Argentina over the weekend and Monday, causing flooding and evacuations of more than 2,000 people across the country.

The provinces of Catamarca in the northwest and Neuquen in the southwest took the brunt of the storm, Maria Rodriguez, the national minister of security,…

A massive storm hit Argentina over the weekend and Monday, causing flooding and evacuations of more than 2,000 people across the country.

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The provinces of Catamarca in the northwest and Neuquen in the southwest took the brunt of the storm, Maria Rodriguez, the national minister of security, said in a statement.

The federal government has deployed national forces, trucks, communications equipment and supplies of food, beverages and medicine to help evacuees and local governments.
Evacuees totaled more than 2,000 people, Buenos Aires-based newspaper Clarin reported, citing data from different provinces.

Some 1,300 people were evacuated in Neuquen alone, Vice Governor Ana Pechen told reporters Monday, according to Neuquen-based newspaper La Mañana Neuquen. “This number is going to keep rising,” she said.

The National Weather Service said that more than 204 millimeters (8 inches) of rain fell since Wednesday in the city of Neuquen, the provincial capital, with the heaviest showers falling Sunday and Monday. That’s more than the annual rainfall for the city in a typical year.

It was the largest storm to hit Neuquen since 1975, when heavy rainfall and flooding led to the death of an estimated 20 people, La Mañana Neuquen reported.

Photos in Buenos Aires newspaper La Nacion show a truck engulfed in mud, water running into homes, people wading across flooded streets, cars driving through two feet of water and cars stuck in water-gouged ruts on dirt roads.

Rains were expected to ease up Monday, yet winds could reach up to 70 km (43.5 miles) per hour in Neuquen, according to the National Weather Service.

Neuquen province suspended schools and public transport and told public workers to stay home, Pechen said.

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BREAKING NEWS: Captured Video Confirms Solar Flare Phenomena

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Scientists have for the first time witnessed the mechanism behind explosive energy releases in the Sun’s atmosphere, confirming new theories about how solar flares are created.

New footage put together by an international team led by University of Cambridge researchers shows how entangled…

Scientists have for the first time witnessed the mechanism behind explosive energy releases in the Sun’s atmosphere, confirming new theories about how solar flares are created.

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New footage put together by an international team led by University of Cambridge researchers shows how entangled magnetic field lines looping from the Sun’s surface slip around each other and lead to an eruption 35 times the size of the Earth and an explosive release of magnetic energy into space.

Equation:
Charged Particles (sunspots, solar flares, filament, coronal holes, etc.) → Magnetic Field Shift → Shifting Ocean and Jet Stream Currents → Extreme Weather and Human Disruption (mitch battros 1998).

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The discoveries of a gigantic energy build-up bring us a step closer to predicting when and where large flares will occur, which is crucial in protecting the Earth from potentially devastating charged particles. The study is published in The Astrophysical Journal.

The paper’s lead author, Dr. Jaroslav Dudik, Royal Society Newton International Fellow at the University of Cambridge’s Center for Mathematical Sciences, said: “We care about this as during flares we can have CMEs and sometimes they are sent in our direction. Human civilization is at risk by highly charged particles hitting our weakening magnetic field which can be a threat to airlines, world-wide electrical grids, our maintained technology and our health and wellbeing.

Space weather such as solar flares and CMEs has been identified as a significant risk to the country’s infrastructure by the UK’s National Risk Register and the US Department of Defense. Late last year The UK’s MET Office announced it would set up a daily space weather forecast to work with the USA’s Space Weather Prediction Center (SWPC).

While solar flares have long been a spectacular reminder of our star’s power, they are also associated with coronal mass ejections (CMEs) — eruptions of solar material with a twisted magnetic structure flying out of the Sun and into interplanetary space.

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VIDEO: CLICK HERE

 “They can also threaten airlines by disturbing the Earth’s magnetic field. Very large flares can even create currents within electricity grids and knock out energy supplies.”

One such event hit the Earth before technology was as integrated into human civilization as it is now, but still had a marked effect. In 1859 the Carrington storm made night skies so bright that newspapers could be read as easily as in daylight and telegraph systems caught fire.

Knowing the standard scientific models are right is therefore very important. The standard 3D model of solar flares has shown that they occur in places where the magnetic field is highly distorted.

In these places, the magnetic field lines can continuously reconnect while slipping and flipping around each other. In doing so, new magnetic structures are created.

Long before the flare the magnetic field lines are un-entangled and they appear in a smooth arc between two points on the photosphere (the Sun’s visible surface) — areas called field line footpoints.

In a smooth, none-entangled arc the magnetic energy levels are low but entanglement will occur naturally as the footpoints move about each other. Their movement is caused as they are jostled from below by powerful convection currents rising and falling beneath the photosphere.

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As the movement continues the entanglement of field lines causes magnetic energy to build up.

Like a group of straight cords which has been twisted, the lines will hold the energy until it becomes too great and then will release it, “straightening” back to the lower energy state.

Co-author Dr. Helen Mason, Head of the Atomic Astro-Physics Group at the University of Cambridge, said: “You build the stress slowly until a point where they are no longer sustainable. The field lines say they have had enough and ‘ping’, they go back to something simple.”

That “ping” creates the solar flare and CME. The word “ping” belies its power of course. Temperatures in the hotspots of the ejection can reach almost 20 million degrees Celsius.

The theory remained unconfirmed until Dudik was reviewing footage of the Sun for an unrelated project last year.

It is no surprise it has taken so long to make the discovery. The technology that created the video is part of the Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) satellite mission which was only launched in 2010 by NASA.

It watches the Sun in the ultra-violet with the Atmospheric Imaging Assembly (AIA) capturing ultra-high-definition images every 12 seconds.

The final piece of the theoretical jigsaw was put in place in 2012 by French scientists — a paper published just six days before the flare occurred. Dudik admits that the serendipity the discovery is hard to ignore. But in science, fortune favors the prepared: “Suddenly I knew what I was looking at,” he said.

What Dudik witnessed was the ultra-violet dance caused by the magnetic field lines slipping around each other, continuously “unzipping” and reconnecting as the footpoints of the flare loops move around on the surface. But during the flare, the footpoint slipping motion is highly ordered and much faster than the random motions entangling the field before the flare.

Dudik observations were helped by the sheer size of the flare he was looking at — it could encompass 35 Earths. Not only that, the flare was of the most energetic kind, known as an X Class flare, and it took around an hour to reach its maximum.

If it had happened in a smaller flare, the slipping motion might not have been visible, even with NASA’s technology to help.

Although only seen in an X Class flare to date, the mechanism might well be something which happens in all flares, said Dudik: “But we are not yet certain.”

The importance of seeing the evidence of theory cannot be underestimated said Dr. Mason: “In recent years there have been a lot of developments theoretically but unless you actually tie that down with observations you can speculate widely and move further away from the truth, not closer, without knowing it.”

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NASA Cassini Images May Reveal Birth Of A Saturn moon

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NASA’s Cassini spacecraft has documented the formation of a small icy object within the rings of Saturn that may be a new moon, and may also provide clues to the formation of the planet’s known moons.
Images taken with Cassini’s narrow angle camera on April 15, 2013, show…

NASA’s Cassini spacecraft has documented the formation of a small icy object within the rings of Saturn that may be a new moon, and may also provide clues to the formation of the planet’s known moons.

Images taken with Cassini’s narrow angle camera on April 15, 2013, show disturbances at the very edge of Saturn’s A ring — the outermost of the planet’s large, bright rings. One of these disturbances is an arc about 20 percent brighter than its surroundings, 750 miles (1,200 kilometers) long and 6 miles (10 kilometers) wide. Scientists also found unusual protuberances in the usually smooth profile at the ring’s edge. Scientists believe the arc and protuberances are caused by the gravitational effects of a nearby object. Details of the observations were published online today (April 14, 2014) by the journal Icarus.

The object is not expected to grow any larger, and may even be falling apart. But the process of its formation and outward movement aids in our understanding of how Saturn’s icy moons, including the cloud-wrapped Titan and ocean-holding Enceladus, may have formed in more massive rings long ago. It also provides insight into how Earth and other planets in our solar system may have formed and migrated away from our star, the Sun.

“We have not seen anything like this before,” said Carl Murray of Queen Mary University of London, the report’s lead author. “We may be looking at the act of birth, where this object is just leaving the rings and heading off to be a moon in its own right.”

The object, informally named Peggy, is too small to be seen in images so far. Scientists estimate it is probably no more than about a half mile (about a kilometer) in diameter. Saturn’s icy moons range in size depending on their proximity to the planet — the farther from the planet, the larger. And many of Saturn’s moons are composed primarily of ice, as are the particles that form Saturn’s rings. Based on these facts, and other indicators, researchers recently proposed that the icy moons formed from ring particles and then moved outward, away from the planet, merging with other moons on the way.

“Witnessing the possible birth of a tiny moon is an exciting, unexpected event,” said Cassini Project Scientist Linda Spilker, of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. According to Spilker, Cassini’s orbit will move closer to the outer edge of the A ring in late 2016 and provide an opportunity to study Peggy in more detail and perhaps even image it.

It is possible the process of moon formation in Saturn’s rings has ended with Peggy, as Saturn’s rings now are, in all likelihood, too depleted to make more moons. Because they may not observe this process again, Murray and his colleagues are wringing from the observations all they can learn.

“The theory holds that Saturn long ago had a much more massive ring system capable of giving birth to larger moons,” Murray said. “As the moons formed near the edge, they depleted the rings and evolved, so the ones that formed earliest are the largest and the farthest out.”

The Cassini-Huygens mission is a cooperative project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency. JPL, a division of the California Institute of Technology, manages the mission for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington.

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‘As Bad As It Gets': Australia Braces For Worst Of Wildfires

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Blue Mountains, Australia – Strengthening gusts of wind and high temperatures have firefighters in New South Wales braced for the worst Wednesday, as nearly 60 wildfires rage across a wide swath of Australia’s most populous state.
“It’s only a matter of hours before we…

Blue Mountains, Australia – Strengthening gusts of wind and high temperatures have firefighters in New South Wales braced for the worst Wednesday, as nearly 60 wildfires rage across a wide swath of Australia’s most populous state.

“It’s only a matter of hours before we see a flare-up in fire activity and a breach of these tenuous containment strategies,” said Shane Fitzsimmons, Rural Fire Service (RFS) commissioner, in Sydney.

The wildfires stretch along a nearly 1,000-mile line in New South Wales, from the far north of the state south of Brisbane — which lies just across the Queensland border — to east of Canberra, the country’s federal capital. Fires in the Blue Mountain range west of Sydney are a particular worry as rough terrain has impeded firefighting efforts.

“If our strategies don’t work and weather materializes tomorrow that is forecast … it could be absolutely devastating,” said Rural Fire Service (RFS) Deputy Commissioner Rob Rogers in New South Wales on Tuesday. “We lost a couple hundred homes the other day — we could get worse losses than that.” Wednesday is expected to be “about as bad as it gets,” added Fitzsimmons.

With high temperatures, low humidity and strong winds forecast, fire officials have urged residents to evacuate from the path of the fires. “On days like today, minutes really matter,” Fitzsimmons said.

At least one death has been reported. A 63-year-old man died of a suspected heart attack Friday while defending his home against a blaze on the New South Wales Central Coast, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, or ABC, reported.

‘Eerie’ skies over city of Sydney

Some urban areas that border the Australian bush have been devastated by the fires, which have destroyed more than 200 homes in the Blue Mountains region since Thursday.

The scores of fires have burned 117,406 hectares (290,117 acres) — an area roughly the size of Los Angeles. On Tuesday, officials said they were bringing in 1,500 firefighters to join the more than 1,000 emergency crews already on the ground.

At Blue Gum Forest inside the Blue Mountains National Park, firefighters were doing controlled burns — setting fires in the bush ahead of the frontline of the blazes to eliminate tinder and slow the progress of the fires. Instead of cloud-shrouded mountaintops, the valleys of the region were covered with a dense layer of smoke.
Fears are still high that fires could join to form a “mega-fire” and endanger heavily populated areas of this popular natural retreat west of Sydney.

Most of the firefighters in the area were volunteers who’ve left their ordinary jobs to put out the fire, pouring in from different parts of Australia.

“There’s a sense of community, doing what they can — you can get a sense of resilience, strength, and a deep sense of pride of each brigade pulling their weight,” said CNN’s Robyn Curnow, reporting from the Blue Mountains.

The state of emergency issued by authorities gives firefighters and police the authority to carry out measures such as cutting off water, power and gas and ordering mandatory evacuations of areas at risk.

A total fire ban is in place for the Greater Sydney region until further notice, officials have said, meaning no fire may be lit in the open, and all fire permits are suspended. The fires have spread a cloak of smog over Sydney in recent days.

The bush fires in the area spread out of control Thursday amid high temperatures and powerful winds. Emergency officials said the region is emerging from a very dry winter and has had little rain in recent months.

The causes of the Blue Mountains fires are still under investigation — officials are looking into whether one major blaze was caused by a military training exercise.
Police said Monday they had arrested two boys, age 11 and 15, over two earlier bush fires in the Port Stephens area, more than 100 kilometers (60 miles) north of Sydney, that began October 13. One of the fires they are accused of starting burned more than 5,000 hectares (12,000 acres) in the surrounding area.

The 11-year-old has been placed under house arrest, charged with two counts of intentionally causing fire and being reckless as to its spread, NSW Police Force said. The child is scheduled to appear in court next month where he is expected to plead not guilty to the charges, CNN affiliate Sky News reports.

 

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In Tacloban,Desperate Residents Beg For Help

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TACLOBAN, Philippines — Boats lie tossed on the shore here. Whole roofs and trees smother cars and rickshaws. Streets look more like garbage dumps, piled high with split wood, broken glass, concrete chunks.
But it is the small belongings that stand out. A teddy bear here, a toy fishing net t…

TACLOBAN, Philippines — Boats lie tossed on the shore here. Whole roofs and trees smother cars and rickshaws. Streets look more like garbage dumps, piled high with split wood, broken glass, concrete chunks.

But it is the small belongings that stand out. A teddy bear here, a toy fishing net there, all swept into the streets by Typhoon Haiyan, also called Yolanda. And the stench.

Formerly a city of 220,000 people, Tacloban has no idea how many remain. Officials here still think at least 10,000 died but have accounted only for close to 2,000 victims. Bloated corpses lay alongside roads covered partly by sheets and corrugated metal. People cover their noses as they walked past.

The wretched landscape of this once vibrant tourist destination and economic hub shows just how badly the relief effort is going four days after Haiyan lashed the city for hours with winds of 147 mph and drove the sea in huge waves across thousands of blocks of homes and buildings.

Some survivors were angry Tuesday about the lack of food, fresh water and medical care. Filipino police and army officers enforced another night of a curfew to try and impose order on this city, which has had no electricity since Friday.

Neighborhoods are in total darkness at night, with the exception of some generator-produced light shining here and there. It’s easy for looters and desperate people to steal and get away.

People were breaking into shops Tuesday. At one heavily damaged households goods store, dozens of people clambered through its ruined roof and threw scavenged items such as bathroom tissue to people below.

“I know it’s not good to take but we are desperate and hungry,” said Veronica Lucerno, who joined an earlier mass raid on a famous department store, now guarded by armed police.

“Some areas have already received government relief and the evacuation centers, but we’ve had nothing,” said Lucerno, who was among thousands here whose homes are windowless, roofless wrecks.

In the brutally ripped up seaside town of Palo, just south of Tacloban on Leyte Gulf, Noel Onida, 36, was begging for assistance while people lined up for a drink at a working hose spigot.

“We need food and help. We need everything but no government supplies have come here, it’s not as Manila says in the media,” he said.

Medical supplies, pallets of water and food destined for Leyte island, where Tacloban city is located, were piled on trucks, planes and ferries on the neighboring island of Cebu and less-damaged parts of Leyte.

The aid was sent by the Philippine government and countries around the world but has not moved quickly to Leyte because its ports and bridges are wrecked, airports are not at full capacity and debris-clogged roads are impassable, said presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda.

He said supply should increase in coming days now that an airport and a main bridge were open.

“We will help, no matter how difficult, no matter how inaccessible,” he said.

Doctors said they were desperate for medicine. Beside the ruined airport tower, at a small makeshift clinic with shattered windows, army and air force medics said they had treated around 1,000 people for cuts, bruises and deep wounds.

“It’s overwhelming,” said Air Force Capt. Antonio Tamayo. “We need more medicine. We cannot give anti-tetanus vaccine shots because we have none.”

More than 200 U.S. Marines were helping deliver food and water. The aircraft carrier USS George Washington was headed to the region with massive amounts of water and food, but the Pentagon said it won’t arrive until Thursday.

The longer survivors go without access to clean water, food, shelter and medical help, the greater chance of disease breaking out and people dying as a result of wounds sustained in the storm, he said.

A team from Doctors Without Borders with medical supplies arrived in Cebu island on Saturday looking for a flight to Tacloban but on Tuesday had to make the short trip across Leyte Gulf.

“We are in contact with the authorities, but the (Tacloban) airport is only for the Philippines military use,” spokesman Lee Pik Kwan said in a telephone interview.

Desperate Filipinos were trying to get out rather than wait for help. Thousands camped at the airport and ran onto the tarmac when planes came in, surging past a broken iron fence and a few soldiers and police trying to control them. Most didn’t make it aboard departing planes..

“We need help. Nothing is happening,” said Aristone Balute, an 81-year-old who didn’t get on a flight. “We haven’t eaten since yesterday afternoon.”

Her clothes were soaked from the rain from a tropical storm that followed Haiyan and dumped more rain on the island overnight.

There was little evidence of an organized delivery of food, water or medical supplies for miles though piles of aid have begun to arrive at the recently cleared Tacloban airport.

The Philippine air force has been sending three C-130s back and forth to Tacloban from dawn to dusk from Cebu island, and had delivered 400,000 pounds of relief supplies by Tuesday, Lt. Col. Marciano Jesus Guevara said.

But the power outage meant planes were forbidden from landing and continuing deliveries through the night. And there are many places still that have not been reached.

“There is a huge amount that we need to do. We have not been able to get into the remote communities,” U.N. humanitarian chief Valerie Amos said in Manila. “Even in Tacloban, because of the debris and the difficulties with logistics and so on, we have not been able to get in the level of supply that we would want to.”

Local bussinessmen and famers were giving up what they had. On the road west from Palo, thousands of people were lined up for sacks of rice in Jaro. A pig farm in Santa Fe gave away live hogs.

The pigs were taken away squealing on motorbikes and rickshaws.

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Kamchatka’s Volcano Spews Ash

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PETROPAVLOVSK-KAMCHATSKY – One of the most active volcanoes on Russia’s Kamchatka peninsula, Karymsky, has spewed ash to an altitude of two kilometers above sea level, emergencies ministry’s regional department reports referring to data supplied by the Kamchatka Volcanic Response Team (KV…

PETROPAVLOVSK-KAMCHATSKY – One of the most active volcanoes on Russia’s Kamchatka peninsula, Karymsky, has spewed ash to an altitude of two kilometers above sea level, emergencies ministry’s regional department reports referring to data supplied by the Kamchatka Volcanic Response Team (KVERT).

“An ash plume has spread 40 kilometers south-west of the volcano,” it reported, saying ash posed no threat for the local population. “The nearest settlement Koryaki is located 115 kilometers away,” the report said. Meanwhile, tourists have been warned against trips to the area. The volcano has been assigned the ’orange’ aviation color code, second after the highest — red code, warning about the hazard eruptions may pose to aircraft.

Karymsky is among the most active volcanoes on Kamchatka. Its height is 1,536 meters above sea level. The volcano is situated 30 kilometers from the Pacific coast and 125 kilometers north of Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky. There are no settlements located close to the volcano. The giant has been active since January 1996.

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