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Hubble captures stunning new HD images of 'Pillars of Creation'
Posted: 07 Jan 2015 12:26 AM PST
NASA has released a new image of the gorgeous Eagle Nebula, known by many as the 'Pillars of Creation', taken by the Hubble Space telescope in celebration of the telescope's upcoming 25th anniversary in April. Hubble returned to the spectacular space scenery with the latest high-definition toys, 20 years after capturing the original images that still today are among the most popular images ever taken in our universe.
Posted: 07 Jan 2015 12:09 AM PST
Excerpt from forbes.com
Astronomers have announced that they have discovered eight more planets that likely exist in temperature ranges where life could exist.
The astronomers began their research path by examining candidates for planets that had been identified by NASA’s Kepler mission. The candidates were analyzed using a supercomputer running algorithms at NASA’s Ames facility.
After exploring the statistical likelihood of the planets’ existence, the team followed up with months of observations using a variety of different methods. The planets are distant enough, however, that their habitabiliy is still only a likelihood, not a certainty.
“We don’t know for sure whether any of the planets in our sample are truly habitable,” researcher David Kipping said in a statement. “All we can say is that they’re promising candidates.”
The two most potentially Earth-like planets of the group of eight are Kepler-438b and Kepler-442b, both of which circle red dwarf stars are are respectively 70% and 97% likely to be in the habitable temperature zones of their respective stars. However, it should be noted that there are serious issues regarding the potential habitability of planets circling red dwarf stars, so confirmation will require significantly more study.
Posted: 07 Jan 2015 12:06 AM PST
Posted: 06 Jan 2015 11:55 PM PST
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Posted: 06 Jan 2015 11:50 PM PST
Posted: 06 Jan 2015 11:47 PM PST
Excerpt from foxnews.com
Despite cost overruns, lawsuits, public opposition and a projected completion date 13 years behind schedule, California Gov. Jerry Brown broke ground Tuesday on what is to become the most expensive public works project in U.S. history: the California bullet train.
Over the next 1,000 days, California is estimated to spend roughly $4 million a day on the project.
The high-speed train, set to be finished in 2033, originally was supposed to deliver passengers from San Francisco to Los Angeles in two hours and 40 minutes. That was the promise when voters narrowly approved $10 billion in bonds for the project in 2008. Since then, however, the estimated trip time has grown considerably, and the train has encountered persistent problems -- as experts uncovered misrepresentations in the ballot proposition, and opponents sued to stop the project on environmental and fiscal grounds.
"We're talking about real money here," said Kris Vosburgh, executive director of taxpayer watchdog group Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association. "This is money that's not available for health care or education, for public safety, or put back in taxpayers' pockets so they have something to spend. This is money being drawn out of the system for a program that is going to serve very few people."
Much about the project has changed since it was sold to the public.
Voters were told the project would cost just $33 billion. Once experts crunched the numbers, however, the price tag soared to $98 billion. It was supposed to whoosh riders from Southern California to the Bay Area in less than three hours, but now it’s more than four hours due to changing track configurations and route adjustments. The train was supposed to get people off the freeway and reduce carbon emissions, but a panel of experts now says any carbon savings will be nominal. (A drive by car takes just over 6 hours. Ed.)
Further, ridership projections have been cut by two-thirds from a projected 90 million to 30 million a year. Fewer riders means higher prices. According to a panel of transportation experts hired by the Reason Foundation, Citizens Against Government Waste and the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, tickets will exceed $80 -- not $50 -- and the system will require annual subsidies of more than $300 million annually.
"The public has turned sour on this plan but the governor, to paraphrase Admiral Farragut, has taken a position of 'damn the people, full speed ahead'," Vosburgh said.
Undaunted by critics, Brown broke ground in Fresno on Tuesday on the first 29-mile segment of the train's system. Under Brown's direction, the California High Speed Rail Authority has gone to court to seek an exemption from an environmental quality law the state imposes on other projects but not this one. Brown also convinced the state Legislature to dedicate an annual revenue stream from the state's carbon tax, to help pay for the bullet train.
"It's a long project, a bold project and one that will transform the Central Valley," Brown said Monday as he began his fourth and final term as governor.
Once construction begins, supporters say it will be harder to stop the project. Several lawsuits linger, but a bigger question concerns the money: Where will it come from? If every penny committed to the project is added up, the project is still more than $30 billion short. Republicans in Congress are vowing not to commit a dollar more than President Obama approved in 2012.
"For years now, Governor Brown and the high-speed rail authority have turned the idea of high-speed rail into a public albatross far beyond what Californians envisioned or voted for," House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., said in a statement released Tuesday. "Sadly, today's groundbreaking is a political maneuver. Supporters of the railroad in Sacramento can't admit their project is deeply flawed, and they won't give up on it despite the cost. But these political tricks are exactly what the American people are tired of and what the new Republican Congress is committed to ending."
Supporters don't see waste. They argue the project will reduce freeway gridlock, offer competition to air travel and provide an alternative to trucking freight.
Environmentalists also have opposed the project, suing and claiming the construction project would harm 11 endangered species and worsen air quality in the already dirty Central Valley. They lost when a federal judge ruled the project did not have to adhere to the state Environmental Quality Act, unlike other projects. Additional legal challenges remain, but supporters believe once the train leaves the station and ground is broken, there's no going back.
"The legacy of the Brown family is that they have been big thinkers, but also big builders," said Democratic state Assemblyman Henry Perea. "I think this is an opportunity for the legislature to step up, support Governor Brown. "
Posted: 06 Jan 2015 11:33 PM PST
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Posted: 06 Jan 2015 11:31 PM PST
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Posted: 06 Jan 2015 11:26 PM PST
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