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The Charger Bulletin

Professor’s Petition Seeks White House Funding for Deflection of Asteroids

by Karen Grava | February 27, 2013

Joel Marks, philosophy professor emeritus and an amateur astronomer, needs your signature. He has until March 17 to obtain 100,000 signatures on a petition asking the White House to support full funding for the detection and deflection of asteroids or comets that might strike the Earth.

Photo provided by UNH Today

“This might seem far-fetched,” he said, “but in light of the meteor that fell in Siberia, it is not. It is a logical fallacy to say that it is highly unlikely that a space rock could fall on us.”

The online petition asks the White House “to accord due urgency to seeking full funding for both detection and deflection technologies, including space-based observatories and research and testing of all possible means of diverting the whole range of sizes of objects on short notice.”

The meteor that exploded earlier this month 20 miles above the city of Chelyabinsk, Russia, in the Ural Mountains, released about 33 times the energy of the atomic bomb that destroyed Hiroshima. While it did not have the radiation that an atomic explosion emits, it did result in the injury of hundreds of people hit by flying debris and glass. “Had it exploded at a lower altitude,” said Marks, “that city of one million inhabitants would have been obliterated.”

Before hitting the Earth’s atmosphere, the object was about 55 feet wide and had a mass of about 10,000 tons, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) said in a statement.

The meteor, which hit 16 hours before another object half the length of a football field hurtled past Earth, has prompted calls to be more vigilant about the risks of strikes from space. Every day, 100 tons of dust and sand-size particles enter the Earth’s atmosphere, most of which burns up.

Marks said the infrared technology to detect asteroids exists but it has not been fully applied or developed for this application. Furthermore, comets can arrive from the outer solar system at any time without the possibility of prior detection.

“Thousands of objects are being tracked by NASA,” Marks said. “But many thousands more are known to exist but have not yet been detected. We need, therefore, to devote more time and attention not only to increased surveillance but also to creating a defensive infrastructure. If this petition is successful, the government will redouble its efforts in both regards.”

 

Walking For a Cure

by Cara Petitti | October 10, 2012

Thousands arrived at Lighthouse Point Park in New Haven last Sunday, Sept. 30, to participate in the Walk to End Alzheimer’s Disease. The New Haven walk, along with numerous other walks throughout Connecticut, marked the close of Alzheimer’s disease Awareness month.

Walkers were encouraged to plant artificial flowers in the sand, with the color of each flower corresponding to the walker’s relationship to Alzheimer’s disease.

The mission of the Alzheimer’s Association is to “eliminate Alzheimer’s disease through the advancement of research; to provide and enhance care and support for all affected; and to reduce the risk of dementia through the promotion of brain health.”

The Alzheimer’s walks began in 1989 when nine chapters around the United States raised $149,000 for the cause. Last year, 650 walks took place, raising over $4.5 million dollars. Numbers were expected to improve for the 2012 walk season.

The New Haven event opened at 9 a.m. for team and participant registration. Starbucks, in addition to other local organizations, donated refreshments. Raffle tickets were also sold for a variety of themed prize baskets. However, despite the excitement seen in the faces of walker’s and Alzheimer’s Association volunteers alike, no one could forget why they were all there: to find a cure for Alzheimer’s Disease.

Through the building of the “Promise Garden,” a staple for the Alzheimer’s walk, it was clear that many participants had different reasons for being there. To build the “Promise Garden,” walkers were encouraged to plant artificial flowers in the sand, with the color of each flower corresponding to the walker’s relationship to Alzheimer’s disease. Blue flowers indicated that the walker was living with the disease. Orange flowers represented those who were caregivers to a person with Alzheimer’s. Purple stood for those who had lost someone to the illness, and yellow symbolized those there to give their support to the cause. Their promise? To find a cure.

Brittany Langer, a participant in New Haven’s Walk to End Alzheimer’s Disease, planted her purple flower in the sand near the waterfront. Langer, 21, is a native to the southern Connecticut area and an active volunteer with the Alzheimer’s Association. “Both of my grandmothers had it,” she explains, “and they both lost their battle.”

She explained the debilitating disease not only affects the people suffering with it, but their families as well. This experience drove her to get involved with the Connecticut chapter headquartered in Hartford.

As a volunteer, Langer gained valuable experience in planning and advertising the event. “People think that it magically all comes together, but in reality we have to make a lot of sponsorship phone calls. We have to recruit team members, and get people to register team captains and put out flyers.”

The New Haven Walk to End Alzheimer’s Disease raised nearly $185,000 dollars in donations, but the association expects that number to keep growing. “People can keep donating until November 30,” Langer stated. She hopes the next two months will bring the New Haven Walk over its goal of $202,000 dollars.

Although the New Haven event has passed, there are still opportunities for those interested to lend their support for the cause. The Southport Racquet Club will be hosting a 5k race on Nov. 3, with all of the proceeds going to the Alzheimer’s Association. More information can be obtained at www.southportracquetclub.com.

Nearly 5.4 million Americans are living with Alzheimer ’s disease. It is the “sixth-leading cause of death,” and cannot be “prevented, cured, or even slowed.” As seen in the “Promise Garden,” not all people affected by the disease suffer from it. Many have lost a family member, or currently care for those affected. The aim of The Walk to End Alzheimer’s is to end the suffering. The organization encourages people to get involved, as volunteers, like Langer, are the backbone of this effort.

“I wanted to be active in an organization that would be working to find a cure. That was the Alzheimer’s Association,” she said.

For more information about events and volunteer opportunities, please visit www.alz.org.

Magnetic Mega-Star Attracts Scientists

by Nadine Northway | September 26, 2012

A giant magnetic star has been spotted about 20,000 light-years away from Earth in a constellation called Perseus.

This star is called NGC 1624-2, and it is about 35 times the Sun’s mass. This means it has a lot of fuel and it will be bright and hot, making it burn out after about 5 million years. This is about 1 percent of the Sun’s current age at midlife, so its lifespan will not be relatively long.

It is the most magnetic star found yet, and it is carrying with it a large amount of trapped particles. It can help find out about magnetism in stars and the evolution of stars and galaxies.

According to Space.com writer Charles Q. Choi, “this massive star possesses a magnetic field of 20,000 times stronger than the sun’s and nearly 10 times stronger than that detected around any other high-mass star.” Magnetic fields that are this strong are very rare and usually are only found in stars with much lower mass.

The magnetic field of this star is 11.4 times the star’s radius and it controls the wind of energetic particles streaming from NGC 1624-2. An astronomer from the Royal Military College of Canada, Greg Wade, said “the huge volume of this magnetosphere is remarkable. It’s more than four times wider than that of any other comparable massive star, and in terms of volume it is around 80 times larger.”

NGC 1624-2 is the most magnetic star known to man, however some mid-mass stars have magnetic fields about twice as strong. Our sun is a low mass star with a high magnetic field. Along with that, some dense remnants of dead stars called magnetars are often seen as the universe’s most magnetic objects.

A typical magnetar might have a magnetic field of about 500 million times larger, according to Wade. However, the flux, or strength of the magnetic field times the surface area of the star, of NGC 1624-2 is almost 700 times larger than your average magnetar.

The discovery of this star can be a very important step to learning about the fundamental processes that produce the magnetic fields of massive stars. The star is very distant though, and studying its light in detail requires monitoring the star with an immense light-gathering powered telescope.

To do this, the international team of scientists used the Hobby-Eberly Telescope at the University of Texas at Austin’s McDonald Observatory, and they found that this star rotates quite slowly. It takes about 160 Earth days to spin once. It takes the Sun about 25 Earth days.

Wade noted that he believes the star is slowed due to having to drag around its wind because it is bound to the magnetic field. “This is something that has to be tested, but it looks very likely,” he said.

They also used the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope on Hawaii’s Mauna Kea to measure the strength of the star’s magnetic field. They looked specifically at variations in rotation directions of the electromagnetic waves absorbed and emitted by atoms in the magnetic field.

“An excess of clockwise-rotating waves indicates a magnetic field pointing towards us, while an excess of counterclockwise-rotating waves indicates a magnetic field pointing away from us,” Wade said. “The larger the excess, the larger the magnetic field. These excesses are usually very tiny, requiring many observations or careful processing of the data to tease out the signal. But in the case of NGC 1624-2, it was obvious from our very first observations that a remarkably strong magnetic field was present.”

Once they get more information on massive stars, there will be further insight on their galaxies. Wade states, “Magnetism, an essentially invisible phenomenon even to most astronomers, can have extraordinary impact.”

“The most important question we seek to answer is: What is the origin of magnetism in massive stars — where do the fields come from?” Wade said. “We believe this must happen when the stars are very young. It has recently been suggested that stellar collisions and mergers during star formation may be responsible. A major next step is to investigate these early stages of evolution, and in particular to examine the magnetic properties of binary star systems, since these may represent examples of systems that suffered encounters early in their history.”

 

Magma Balloons Under the Island of Santorini

by Patricia Oprea | September 19, 2012

Santorini is known as a prized gem of the Grecian islands, a tiny alcove surrounded by water and loved by residents and tourists alike. The multicolored limestone houses are built onto a cliff overlooking the sea with spectacular views of the sunset; Santorini retains the Cycladic architecture of its past.

Santorini has been recently prone to bubbles of volcanic explosion underneath its earth.

Unfortunately this is where the article’s positivity ceases; if you are now thinking of visiting Santorini, the sooner the better, because it has been recently prone to bubbles of volcanic explosion underneath its earth.

Santorini was built out of a volcanic eruption about 3,600 years ago, in approximately 1620 BC, obliterating the ancient Minoan civilization that once called this island home. (This is also how the legends of the “Lost City of Atlantis” arose). Santorini is known for its volcanic explosions, which happen about every 20,000 years.

The volcano under Santorini has been relatively silent in the past 25 years, but now it is seemingly becoming more active. In the past year, the amount of magma underneath the island has been at a steady increase, and is now said to be the size of 15 Olympic stadiums.

Because of this large growth spurt, the island has recently risen up 5.5 inches. Tourists have been feeling small rumbles on the surface, and an occasional clinking of their wine glasses as the volcano pulsed beneath them.

Earlier this year, seismic GPS sensors measured activity, hinting that there may be an eruption soon. Although they do not think an eruption the size of the one 3,600 years earlier will be in store for the island, researchers have been actively keeping an eye on the volcano.

Volcanologist David Pyle is not worried though, saying that this is typical of such a volcano.

“They’ll often have these little restless patches, because there is molten rock moving around at depth,” he says, assured that this kind of situation is fairly commonplace.

Nevertheless, if you have ever desired to visit Santorini, now is your time to do so, as its future is fairly unpredictable. Just as one is never sure how much air a balloon will take before it pops, the volcano can only handle a certain amount of pressure before it bursts upwards.

Apple’s iPhone 5: It’s Just the Beginning

by Kerri Zbodula | September 19, 2012

Apple’s new iPhone 5 was revealed Wednesday, Sept. 12. As one can imagine, this has been the talk around the world. Almost everyone has an iPhone these days, thus everyone is dying to get his or her hands on this newly launched product.

The iPhone 5 will feature a larger 4-inch display, 4G LTE connectivity and a redesigned case that is taller and thinner than the current model.

The iPhone 5 will feature a larger 4-inch display, 4G LTE connectivity and a redesigned case that is taller and thinner than the current model.

According to Apple analysts, the iPhone 5 will be the company’s biggest iPhone launch ever. Topeka Capital Market’s analyst Brian White has called the iPhone 5 the “biggest upgrade in consumer electronics history.”

According to White, “investors should strap in for a crazy ride because Apple’s iPhone event on Wednesday is just the beginning.”

White states, “The iPhone 4S sold over 4 million units in the first three days, and assuming supply chain constraints aren’t a major issue and the seven country rollout ensues, we believe at least 5 million to 5.5 million iPhone 5’s can be sold in the same time frame. With similar caveats, we believe Apple could sell 10 million to 12 million iPhone 5 units in 4QFY12, making our iPhone projects look conservative.”

White sees Apple selling between 5 million and 5.5 million units later this month. He notes that economic fourth-quarter sales could easily double that estimate.

Besides the new iPhone, rumors say that Apple is creating new Macs and a totally new iPod lineup. Larger updates later this year consist of the new iPad mini, and possibly an updated full size iPad as well.

White says that plenty more products are coming from the Cupertino, California-based company in 2012. Then, in 2013 White says a new Apple- branded HDTV may finally launch as well.

Liberals and Conservatives: Different Neurology

by Ana Abraham | September 12, 2012

There has always been a serious polarization among Americans on the two ends of the political spectrum. Whether the issue being debated is marriage equality, health care, tax reforms or literally thousands of other issues, liberals and conservatives will generally have a different viewpoint.

Recent research has suggested why people tend to lean to one side rather than the other. The answer may lie, at least in part, in neurology.

ProCon.org, a nonprofit site, recently compiled research from thirteen separate, peer-reviewed studies. The findings indicate a large divide in thought processes of liberals and conservatives, even on issues that seem to be unrelated to politics.

For example, Erik G. Helzer and David A. Pizarro conducted a study about cleanliness. The finding was that “Conservatives have stronger motivations…to preserve purity and cleanliness.” This finding was then interpreted to mean that cleanliness and the commitment to purity can be metaphors for certain moral judgments.

In some cases, the findings were a bit less abstract. A study by Ryota Kanai, Tom Feilden, Colin Firth and Geraint Rees analyzed “a large sample of young adults” identifying with each political party. They found, via MRI, that “greater liberalism” was associated (at least in their study) with a larger anterior cingulate cortex. This is associated, they claim, with a greater tolerance to uncertainty. Those individuals identifying as conservatives had, largely, an “increased volume of the right amygdale.” This has been scientifically linked with a great sensitivity to fear.

Of course, neurology does not guarantee that a person will be committed to either liberalism or conservatism. This may be evidenced by those who change political parties after many years, or those who form no opinion whatsoever on politics.

Several universities, such as NYU and UCLA, have conducted studies in the past to try to answer the question of why the two major political groups are often so far apart. It is likely that more universities will do so in the future, but it also seems likely that as long as there are issues debated in the United States, there will be heavy polarization between the major parties.

 

Sun Erupts with a Light Bulb-Shaped Solar Storm

by Patricia Oprea | September 12, 2012

Used to counter dim lighting situations, the average light bulb seems like a pretty self-explanatory invention—until it comes from the sun, that is.

The SOHO (Solar and Heliophelic Observatory) spacecraft captured a glowing eruption, distinctly shaped like a light bulb, from the star at the center of our solar system.

On Aug. 20, the SOHO (Solar and Heliophelic Observatory) spacecraft captured a glowing eruption, distinctly shaped like a light bulb, from the star at the center of our solar system. This spacecraft was launched in December of 1995, about 930,000 miles away from the Earth, and snaps images of the Sun’s outer layer (the corona) by creating a fake eclipse within the instrument. SOHO has been capturing images of the Sun for years, but nothing ever quite like this.

NASA scientists proudly called this eureka moment a “Coronal Mass Ejection”, or CME for short. These storms are not too infrequent, but a good amount of time has passed since one held the distinct shape of a light bulb. Scientists also believe this peak in solar activity to be similar to the happenings in 2002, and that the increase in storms is associated with the switching of the Sun’s solar poles, which happens about every decade.

In a nutshell, this storm is a cloud comprised of plasma and charged particles, and is millions of times more potent than a volcano. When pointed towards the Earth, these storms have the possibility of causing solar radiation storms, and even disrupting technology and power grids. In fact, many speculators of upcoming Dec. 21, 2012, events believe that this is what is going to happen on that day—a massive solar eruption that will end up knocking out power and potentially all electronic devices on Earth.

Renowned psychic Jim Karol who performed at the University of New Haven on Thursday, Aug. 30, seemed to hold similar views regarding the state of the Sun and its condition. He believes that there will be an increase in solar storms, leading to possible technological problems on Earth. All anyone can really do is wait and see what the Sun has in store for the future, and hope that its storms have ceased for now.

 

 

Stem Cell Research Funding Upheld

by Amy Reidy | September 12, 2012

The court system in the United States of America is meant to keep both laws and challenges made regarding laws in check. That is exactly what was done regarding embryonic stem cell (ESC) research. Complaints filed in a lower court decidedly had no standing in the federal appeals court circuit of the District of Columbia.

The court system of the United States has upheld stem cell research funding.

Upon President Barack Obama’s lift in 2009 of former President Bush’s ban on federal funding for ESC research in place after 2001, a federal lawsuit was filed in 2010. The lawsuit that was ruled upon in the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals began in the District of Columbia’s lower court system. The lawsuit, filed by Theresa Deisher of AVM Biotechnology and Dr. James Sherley of the Boston Biomedical Research Institute, argued that the use of federal funding for projects regarding embryonic stem cells is against the law based on the ruling in the 1996 amendment Dickey-Wicker.

The 1996 Dickey-Wicker amendment states that research “in which human embryos are created, destroyed, discarded, or knowingly subjected to risk of injury or death” may not be funded by use of federal taxpayers’ money. Furthermore, the Dickey-Wicker Amendment defines a human embryo as “any organism, not protected as a human subject…that is derived by fertilization, parthenogenesis, cloning, or any other means from one or more human gametes or human diploid cells.” This amendment has been interpreted to mean that pieces of research can be funded as long as those pieces are not the actual creation or destruction of the ESCs.

This, however, is what the plaintiffs’ main argument combats. They are not alone in this feat. Chief Judge Royce C. Lamberth agreed that Dickey-Wicker “unambiguously prohibits the use of federal funds for all research in which a human embryo is destroyed.”

The 1996 Dickey-Wicker Amendment, however, is not their only argument. The plaintiffs also state that allowing for government funding to be doled to projects that do, at some point, create or destroy ESCs creates a greater pool of possible recipients of federal monies and therefore increases competition, likely lessening the amount of funding doled out to their research projects that carefully follow the laws as Dickey-Wicker spells them out.

In an interview with the two proponents of the lawsuit conducted by Drug Discovery News shortly after the lawsuit was filed, it becomes evident that each of their companies has found legal alternatives through adult stem cell research and traditional studies of diseases and ailments.

Despite having a multi-faceted case, the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia threw away the case because of lack of evidence. After two years, the case was denied further consideration because of interpretations of the Dickey-Wicker Amendment being upheld.

The ambiguity of the amendment allows for such interpretation, thus dismissing this case and upholding President Obama’s ability to lift the ban of use of taxpayers’ monies toward ESC research.

Nothing Sane about Mary Jane

by Elissa Sanci | September 5, 2012

Marijuana use in the nation is on the rise: 17.4 million Americans were recorded using marijuana in 2010, up from 14.4 million users in 2007.

What is more shocking is that the rise in numbers is all thanks to college-aged users.

According to a study held by the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administrations, the percentage of college students who smoke jumped from 19.5 percent to 21.5 percent in only two years.

Every day, the number of college students engaging in marijuana consumption grows.

The problem with this? Marijuana, otherwise known as pot or weed, affects all aspects of a person’s life. Substance abuse leads to problems with schoolwork and health, and could eventually lead to changes in personality and an increase in risky, out-of-character behavior.

The main “ingredient” in marijuana is THC (tetrahydrocannabinol). When weed is smoked, THC activates the receptors in the brain, which trigger the drug’s effect; mainly releasing dopamine into the system, which causes the “relaxing” side effect of marijuana.

Other side effects include uneasiness, anxiety and restlessness, coupled with paranoia and forgetfulness.

One of the most common side effects of marijuana is memory loss.

Students throughout the UNH campus, for example, have reported noticing slight memory problems. One student, who wished to remain anonymous, noted that after years of marijuana use, the drug “messed up [his] memory a little bit.”

Students who smoke pot are less likely to spend time studying and concentrating on classes, and have been found to have difficulty concentrating, recalling facts and making good decisions.

The numbers are rising; there is no doubt about that. But why do so many students use marijuana if they are aware of the side effects and know that it is illegal?

“It’s relaxing,” a number of students replied with. “Classes are stressful, and weed helps me relax.”

Most students at UNH see no problem with marijuana usage. “It’s just a way to have fun.”

However, here at the University of New Haven, marijuana abuse is not a serious problem.

“Considering the amount of students here on campus, the ratio of kids caught smoking is surprisingly low,” Officer Crawford said.

However, if you are caught, the stakes are high. Students who get caught smoking are referred to the Dean’s office.

Students caught selling or growing the weed? You will be expelled, arrested and will have to go to court.

 

Neil Armstrong: The Death of an American Hero

by Ana Abraham | September 5, 2012

As recently as 50 years ago, the idea of putting a man on the moon was viewed as—no pun intended—an astronomical impossibility.

The commander of NASA’s ship Apollo 11, Neil Armstrong, became the first person to set foot on the moon. And, on Aug. 25, 2012, Neil Armstrong passed away in Cincinnati.

In mid-1961, President John F. Kennedy announced a goal to see an American safely to the moon by the end of the decade, thus adding new pressure to the “Space Race” against the former Soviet Union during the Cold War.

Even after JFK’s assassination, his ambitious goal was realized on July 20, 1969. The commander of NASA’s ship Apollo 11, Neil Armstrong, became the first person to set foot on the moon.

And, on Aug. 25, 2012, Neil Armstrong passed away in Cincinnati.

“As long as there are history books,” NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said, “Neil Armstrong will be included in them.”

Armstrong is considered a legend of space exploration and an American hero. He was only 38 years old when the entire world watched him change history by taking the first steps outside of a spacecraft.

On July 20, 1969, Armstrong and fellow astronauts ‘Buzz’ Aldrin and Michael Collins landed on the moon after four days and 250,000 miles of space travel.

Armstrong and Aldrin spent over two hours on the surface of the moon, during which they placed an American flag and collected samples for analysis back on Earth. None of the three men returned to space after the Apollo 11 mission.

The USSR never did put a man on the moon. There have only been 12 people to set foot on the moon, all of them Americans from six separate Apollo missions between 1969 and 1972.

There have been 23 unmanned landings in the years since. In 2005, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) told National Geographic that they would like to return humans to the moon by 2018.

Neil Armstrong, the first member of an extremely exclusive group of legends, passed away at 82 years old due to “complications resulting from cardiovascular procedures,” according to his family.

He was a Korean War veteran and also a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest non-military award offered in the U.S, for his role in the Apollo 11 mission. Despite being hailed as a national hero, Armstrong was, by all accounts, a humble and modest man who preferred teaching and spending time with his family to interviews and fame.

Most are familiar with Armstrong’s famous quote uttered while walking on the surface of the moon, “That’s one small step for (a) man, one giant leap for mankind.”

Many media outlets and bloggers are calling his death “one giant loss for mankind.”

Both President Barack Obama and GOP nominee Mitt Romney agree with this claim. President Obama ordered all flags in the nation to be at half-mast Friday, Aug. 31, for Armstrong’s funeral.

In a press release, he also summed up the view of pretty much every news story and social network post in the nation by stating that Armstrong was one of “the greatest American heroes…of all time.”

 

 

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