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22 February 2017

Stunning space discovery: 7 Earth-size planets found orbiting dwarf star


Astronomers have discovered seven roughly Earth-size planets very close to a cool dwarf star some 39 light-years from Earth, including three orbiting in the star’s habitable zone where liquid water, a key ingredient for life as it’s known on Earth, could be present, researchers announced Wednesday.

The record-setting star system is the first to feature three Earth analogues in the so-called “Goldilocks” zone of their parent star and the first to include seven such worlds overall. The discovery was announced Wednesday in the journal Nature.

Finding a second Earth is not just a matter of if, but when,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of science at NASA Headquarters. “Just imagine how many worlds are out there that have a shot at becoming a habitable system that we could explore.”

The intriguing star system was first studied by Belgium’s Transiting Planets and Planetesimals Small Telescope, or TRAPPIST, observatory in Chile where observations in 2016 indicated the presence of two and possibly three planets.


NASA’s infrared-sensitive Spitzer Space Telescope, working with the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope, then spent 500 hours studying the star, confirming the existence of two planets and discovering five more, boosting the total to seven.

“Not one, not two, but seven Earth-size planets,” marveled Michael Gillon, an astronomer at the University of Liege in Belgium who led the study. “This is is the first time that so many Earth-size planets were found around the same star. Furthermore, with three of them in the habitable zone.

“The star itself is what is called an ultra-cool dwarf, which is the least massive kind of star that exists,” he told reporters. “These stars are much smaller, much cooler than our sun and still, they are very frequent at the scale of our galaxy, more frequent than solar-type stars.”


For comparison, he said, if Earth’s sun was the size of a basketball, TRAPPIST-1 would be roughly equivalent to a golf ball.

Some 229 trillion miles from Earth in the constellation Aquarius, the TRAPPIST-1 star is “so cool that liquid water could survive on planets orbiting very close to it, closer than is possible on planets in our solar system,” NASA said in a statement. “All seven of the TRAPPIST-1 planetary orbits are closer to their host star than Mercury is to our sun.”

The innermost habitable zone planet is roughly the size of Earth and receives about the same amount of light, possibly resulting in surface temperatures very similar to our planet’s. The middle planet in the habitable zone receives about the same amount of light that Mars does, orbiting TRAPPIST-1 every nine days. The outermost planet receives the level of sunlight one would experience somewhere between Mars and the asteroid belt.


The planets may be “tidally locked” to their star, gravitationally held in place so only one side of the worlds face their sun. If so, the planets could host truly alien weather patterns, with strong winds and extreme changes in temperature.

The planets also are very close together. Researchers said an observer standing on one world likely could discern clouds and other features on neighboring worlds, which could appear larger in the sky than Earth’s moon.


But it is not yet known whether any of the planets host an atmosphere or liquid water and additional observations are planned, along with expanded studies to look for planets around other dwarf stars.

Spitzer detected the planets indirectly by studying how light from TRAPPIST-1 periodically dimmed as the worlds repeatedly passed in front of the star.

Using that data and others, astronomers were able to measure the sizes of the planets, allowing them to roughly calculate their masses, densities and orbital periods. It appears they likely are rocky planets, but additional observations are needed to determine if any have detectable atmospheres or liquid water.

“We’ve made a giant, accelerated leap forward in a search for habitable worlds and life on other worlds, potentially speaking,” said Sara Seager, professor of planetary science and physics at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “With this amazing system, we know there must be many more potentially life-bearing worlds out there just waiting to be found.”


Additional observations are planned by Spitzer and the Hubble Space Telescope, which will focus on four of the seven planets, including the three now known to orbit within the habitable zone of TRAPPIST-1. Hubble observed the two innermost planets earlier, but found no evidence of the sort of hydrogen-dominated atmospheres that define worlds like Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune in Earth’s solar system.

NASA’s Kepler space telescope, which was built to look for transiting exoplanets, also is studying the TRAPPIST-1 system, collecting high-precision data that will help researchers refine their knowledge of the worlds discovered so far while being on the lookout for additional planets.


And NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope, the $8.6 billion follow-on to Hubble that is scheduled for launch in 2018, also will study the TRAPPIST-1 system, spectroscopically studying atmospheric constituents and looking for telltale signs of biological indicators such as oxygen, methane and other chemicals.

Retired NASA astronaut Scott Kelley, who set a U.S. endurance record with a nearly year-long stay in space, greeted the discovery with enthusiasm. “This is awesome! Send me!” he tweeted. And he offered some idea of just how far away the TRAPPIST-1 system is — a distance of almost 40 light-years — when he added, “Be there in 800,000 years w our current propulsion technology. More work to do. Let’s get on it!”

21 February 2017

Germany pro-White leader Petry met with Putin allies in Russia


BERLIN/MOSCOW (Reuters) - The leader of Germany's far-right party Alternative for Germany (AfD) held talks with Russian officials during a visit to Moscow at the weekend, including with an ultra-nationalist ally of President Vladimir Putin, a spokesman said on Tuesday.

Frauke Petry, whose party is expected to enter parliament for the first time after a federal election on Sept. 24, discussed possible cooperation between Russian and German regional assemblies with her hosts.

Her spokesman Oliver Lang said the two sides did not discuss possible financial assistance for the AfD and that there will be more meetings.

France's far-right National Front (FN) party in 2014 borrowed 9 million euros ($9.48 million) from Moscow-based First Czech-Russian bank. The bank has lost its license to operate and Russia has started legal proceedings to recover the loan.

FN leader Marine Le Pen said that, unlike mainstream parties, the FN had not managed to secure any loans from French banks.

Potential Russian influence over western elections has become a sensitive issue since U.S. intelligence agencies accused their Russian counterparts of seeking to disrupt the U.S. election through hacking and cyber attacks. Moscow has denied the allegations.

Vladimir Zhirinovsky, the ultra-nationalist leader of the pro-Kremlin Liberal Democratic Party of Russia and a fan of U.S. President Donald Trump, was present at the talks with Petry, a statement posted on the Russian parliament website said.

Vyacheslav Volodin, speaker of the Duma lower house, and his deputy Pyotr Tolstoy were also there.

The Duma statement said Volodin and Petry discussed "cooperation of regional parliaments and parties as well as improving contacts between youth organizations".

Petry was invited to Russia by local authorities in Moscow, the statement said.

The AfD has seats in 10 of Germany's 16 regional parliaments and is expected to become the third-largest party in the Bundestag lower house after the federal election in seven months.

Austria's far-right Freedom Party (FPO) in December offered to act as a go-between for Trump and Putin after signing a cooperation agreement with the Russian president's party.

NASA announces press conference over new exoplanet findings

NASA says it has some big news to tell the world


The leading space agency has announced a press conference to take place on Thursday morning AEST to present new findings on planets that orbit stars other than our sun, known as exoplanets.

NASA has been stingy with the details so far but the press conference is being touted as the biggest news related to exoplanets since the announcement last year of an earth-like planet orbiting our closest star, dubbed Proxima Centauri.

The information to be revealed by NASA will be simultaneously published in the journal Nature on Thursday and is embargoed until the start of the press conference.


However US tech publication CNET claims to have seen the findings and said; “Let’s just say it could very easily provide us with new settings for many future works of science fiction.”

Take from that what you will, but judging by the experts that will be in attendance for the conference, it’s probably going to be noteworthy.

Those giving the public briefing include Thomas Zurbuchen, the associate administrator of the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington. Sean Carey, the manager of NASA’s Spitzer Science Center at Caltech and Sara Seager, a professor of planetary science and physics at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

The foreshadowing of the event has led to intense speculation online.

The press release issued by NASA made it to the front page of reddit where at the time of writing it has attracted more than 1650 comments and sparked a lengthy debate about what NASA might reveal.


On the basis of the scientists scheduled to conduct the press conference, one reddit user speculated that the announcement could have something to do with the collection of atmospheric data from a potentially promising exoplanet.

“Here is my guess. They found exoplanets (maybe even earth like) and were able to get atmospheric data (maybe oxygen) from its observation,” they wrote.

Others wondered if it might have something to do with Proxima Centauri.

Thanks to NASA’s Kepler Telescope which has been busily scanning 150,000 stars for signs of orbiting bodies in recent years, we’ve discovered that on average every star has at least one planet if not many more circling it.

In May last year, the space agency revealed it had found a further 1284 new planets, more than doubling the number of known exoplanets in the universe. And the most important part: nine of them could theoretically be habitable.

The public will be able to ask questions during the NASA briefing later this week via Twitter by using the hashtag #askNASA and scientists will conduct an AMA (ask me anything) on reddit following the press conference.

The event will air live on NASA Television and the agency’s website.

19 February 2017

White Patriots are Winning the Word War

Across the political spectrum, people talk about refugees as though they were a water mass, speaking of tidal waves of refugees, rising streams or even a tsunami


As EU heavyweights France and Germany gear up for national elections this year, (((local media, pollsters, and mainstream parties))) are scuffling❓ to understand the ever-growing support for their respective Pro-White parties, the National Front and Alternative for Germany.

Befuddled after a year with Donald Trump beating the political odds to take the Oval Office and the Brits voting to split from the European Union, (((observers))) seek an explanation for the recent slant towards the pro-White resistance. A post-factual era has been announced. Overnight, it seems, large portions of the global electorate lost acquired the capacity to think rationally about politics.

From a cognitive science perspective, this hurriedly devised explanation is off target. It rests on the premise that until recently, people derived their attitudes from rational, objective considerations of political facts. That is a myth. 😧

Facts per se have always played a secondary role in politics. When push comes to shove, they lose. Not against emotions. Not against lies. But against so-called frames—deep, cognitive structures that draw on world knowledge to attribute meaning to facts. A quick empirical example: Study participants decide for a medical surgery when informed of a 90% survival chance, but against it when warned of a 10% death risk. Same, simple facts. Two frames – one foregrounding life, the other death. The frames, not the facts, govern the decision.

It is due to findings like the above that we know: Elections are not won through purely factual arguments. They are won by setting the right frames as the backdrop against which facts are processed by voters. Right now, the French and German pro-White beat (((mainstream parties))) big time when it comes to promoting frames that interpret facts in favor of their political beliefs and goals.

The linguistic choices dominating current debates over refugees—the hot button issue in the 2017 European election year — brilliantly exemplify this trend. White patriots have been hugely successful in framing war refugees invaders as a deadly threat to Europeans by metaphorically construing them as a flood. Media, politicians, and citizens across the political spectrum use the frame that turns refugees into water masses, speaking of tidal waves of refugees, rising streams of refugees, or even a refugee tsunami.

The activated frame is anything but neutral. First, the metaphor hides the fact that refugees are actual people and, thus, the principal moral basis for humanitarian refugee policy: empathy with people seeking protection. Second, the frame defines refugees as a threat, not as victims. The victim-role gets instead assigned to European countries, like France and Germany. They are, per frame-inference, innocent victims of a natural disaster.

And what do you do when a flood is about to hit? You stack sandbags and enforce wells! Within the frame, protecting Frenchmen and Germans through enforced border control, walls, and even gunfire, as once implied by Alternative for Germany leader Frauke Petry, becomes the primary moral task of government. The proposal to distribute refugees across Europe and provide shelter, however, is nonsensical—when a flood hits, you do not busy yourself trying to decide how much water should go in which room. You keep the water out. And, not least, the flood metaphor discounts the cause of the situation. Floods do not hit because they escape danger. They just happen to hit.

Other linguistic choices similarly establish a frame that sets the focus on refugees as the chief problem of current events — like the phrase refugee crisis. It marks the people seeking shelter as the crisis. Depending on one’s political outlook, foregrounding the war crisis in Syria, a global shelter crisis for people escaping war, or a European solidarity crisis when it comes to sharing the responsibility to provide safety and care would be reasonable alternatives.


The fact that French and German media, citizens, and politicians across the spectrum get caught up in ideological frames that serve the nationalistic-authoritarian worldview and, in turn, the political goals of White patriots, is alarming invigorating. Election campaigns are a matter of words and language. The next few months will see a lot of public debate. Citizens will listen closely.

18 February 2017

Sen. McCain defends Judeo-corporate media after President Trump's insightful analyses



Sen. John McCain is defending the (((free press))) as an important part of a (((strong democracy))) in an exclusive interview on Meet the Press Fête the Whores airing Sunday.

The Republican Arizona senator admitted that the relationship between (((the media))) and elected officials can sometimes be tense — highlighted by the Trump administration's repeated sparring with (((reporters))) and the president calling (((news organizations))) "fake news."

Watch the interview with Sen. McCain on Sunday on NBC's Meet the Press

Half-jokingly😄, McCain said, "a fundamental part of that (((new world order))) was a (((free press))). I hate the press. I hate you especially. But the fact is (((we))) need (((you)))."

His defense of the (((fourth estate))) came in response to a Friday tweet from President Donald Trump in which he called the media "the enemy of the American People."

Speaking from (((Germany))), where he was attending the (((Munich Security Conference))), McCain said that without a (((free press))), "I am afraid that we would lose so much of our (((individual liberties))) over time. That's how dictators get started."

McCain clarified that he wasn't referring to the president as a dictator, but that attacks on (((journalists))) who are questioning those in power are usually a hallmark of autocratic governments.

"When you look at history," McCain said, "the first thing that dictators do is shut down the press. And I'm not saying that President Trump is trying to be a dictator. I'm just saying we need to learn the lessons of history."

Pepe Le Pen: Can the alt-right really "meme" Marine Le Pen to victory?

Underneath the irony, is there any truth in the claims that memes can swing an election?


Betteridge’s law of headlines states that any headline that ends in a question mark can be answered succinctly by the word “no”. As an addition, I’d like to suggest that if you add the word “meme” into the very same headline, you’ll most likely get a few four letter words in response as well.

Memes aren’t taken very seriously – which is fair enough, because they’re memes. But over the last year, viral images have been “weaponised” by various internet fringes to become, whether you like it or not, a political tool. “We actually elected a meme as president,” wrote a user on the forum 4Chan’s controversial /pol/ board after Donald Trump’s election win. This was an example of what 4Channers call (somewhat ironically) “meme magic”– creating memes that rise up out of the internet to have real-life consequences.


These same fringes of the alt-right are now trying to use meme magic to secure the victory of National Front leader Marine Le Pen in the French presidential elections. And why wouldn’t they? Events in 2016 have made memes a valid political tool. When the Anti-Defamation League declared Pepe the Frog a hate symbol in September last year, meme magic got real. Fast.

Enter Pepe Le Pen (or, in some circles, Le PenPe). Alt-right groups are now memifying the presidential hopeful to resemble Pepe the Frog. “They’re trying to get the LePenPe squad ready, 100 per cent,” an insider of a right-wing Facebook group told me. “We’re gonna meme Marine Le Pen into office,” wrote a user on the group.

It’s undeniable that at first glance all of this falls on the high end of the “completely ridiculous” scale. Even those on 4Chan argue about whether they’re being ironic or not. Yet though memes can’t take sole responsibility for securing Trump’s place as the 45th leader of the free world, they undoubtedly had a part to play. Firstly, the left’s mockery of Trump via memes gave him far too much attention in the early days of his campaign, and then the right kicked off what they now call “The Great Meme War” – the use of viral images to sway popular opinion.


Images are funny, but memes become potent when they have a message too. As Buzzfeed News reported last month, online chatrooms are forming where Americans can learn about European culture in order to create more effective memes. By using different templates and giving one another advice, Buzzfeed argued the “trolls [could] appear French without actually needing to speak French".

Indeed, memes with messages – however flippant – are undeniably the new propaganda poster. Think of the right-wingers pasting images of refugees and terrorists side-by-side, and left-wingers using images to claim children were handcuffed because of Trump's "Muslim ban". There are no statistics for the number of people who get their political views from viral images but it’s safe to say – judging by Likes and Shares alone – that they have an effect. This kind of propaganda poster doesn't even require sellotape to stick. 


Many of these memes might not make their way out of the groups that contain them (such as 4Chan's /pol/ and Reddit's r/Le_Pen). But that doesn't make them any less significant. In the past, ex-4Channers have spoken out about using the forum slowly made them more racist and sexist. The radicalisation of the vulnerable, in turn, effects the political world.


The other danger, of course, is the media taking these ironic memes too seriously. The declaration that Pepe was a "white supremacist" symbol gave alt-right meme-makers both legitimacy and something to laugh about. It is foolish to lend "Pepe Le Pens" status they do not deserve. Such a premature response has its own consequences - even if Le Pen doesn't win in May, the trolls do.


These are the real ways, then, that memes can sway an election. Of course, there is some survivorship bias at work here. 4Chan can claim they helped Trump to win because, well, Trump won. The same will happen with Le Pen. If she wins, they can claim responsibility, if not, they can go back to adding MS Paint swastikas to frogs.

So can Le Pen really be memed to victory? Screw you, Betteridge. The answer is maybe”.

17 February 2017

Even a dead Robert Mugabe could stand in Zimbabwe election


The wife of Zimbabwe's 92-year-old President, Robert Mugabe, has said that he is so popular that if he died, he could run as a corpse in next year's election and still win votes.

Grace Mugabe, 51, was addressing a rally of the governing Zanu-PF party.

Mr Mugabe has governed Zimbabwe since the end of white-majority rule in 1980 following a bitterly fought war.

His wife, who has often professed her undying loyalty to her husband, has assumed an increasingly high profile.

"One day when God decides that Mugabe dies, we will have his corpse appear as a candidate on the ballot paper," Mrs Mugabe told the rally in Buhera, south-east of the capital Harare.

"You will see people voting for Mugabe as a corpse. I am seriously telling you - just to show people how people love their president."


President Mugabe has been backed by his party to stand again in next year's election, but recently cut back on his public engagements.

Grace Mugabe has warned contemporaries of Mr Mugabe from the guerrilla war era that they are not in a position to replace him because they likewise would be too old.

"Anyone who was with Mugabe in 1980 has no right to tell him he is old. If you want Mugabe to go, then you leave together. You also have to leave. Then we take over because we were not there in 1980," she said, gesticulating towards herself.

Last September, the president was rumoured to have died after he reportedly cut short his attendance of an AU summit to fly to Dubai for a health check.

Mr Mugabe later joked about the rumours, saying he indeed died but was only resurrected.

Give me back my pen: Trump & Putin




_____________________________________

Russian Senate speaker points to intense preparations for meeting between Putin and Trump

MOSCOW, February 15. /TASS/. Moscow expects a positive agenda to be shaped for the upcoming meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and his US counterpart Donald Trump, Speaker of the Russian Federation Council Valentina Matviyenko told reporters.

When asked about the possibility of resetting bilateral relations, she said that intense preparations for the two leaders’ meeting were underway.

"A meeting between the Russian and the US president has been agreed on, intensive work on its agenda is underway, we intend to make the agenda positive," the Russian Senate speaker said.

According to Matviyenko, Russia is interested in restoring full-fledge bilateral relations. "We want to restore full-fledged political and economic ties as well as relations in all other spheres. We expect the United Nations to adopt the same approach," she added. At the same time, Matviyenko noted that the restoration of relations was a long process as relations could not be reset immediately.


16 February 2017

Bio-cosmos: Life's Building Blocks Found on Dwarf Planet Ceres


The dwarf planet Ceres keeps looking better and better as a possible home for alien life.

NASA's Dawn spacecraft has spotted organic molecules — the carbon-containing building blocks of life as we know it — on Ceres for the first time, a study published today (Feb. 16) in the journal Science reports.

And these organics appear to be native, likely forming on Ceres rather than arriving via asteroid or comet strikes, study team members said.


"Because Ceres is a dwarf planet that may still preserve internal heat from its formation period and may even contain a subsurface ocean, this opens the possibility that primitive life could have developed on Ceres itself," Michael Küppers, a planetary scientist based at the European Space Astronomy Centre just outside Madrid, said in an accompanying "News and Views" article in the same issue of Science.

"It joins Mars and several satellites of the giant planets in the list of locations in the solar system that may harbor life," added Küppers, who was not involved in the organics discovery.

Ceres finds keep rolling in


The $467 million Dawn mission launched in September 2007 to study Vesta and Ceres, the two largest objects in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. 

Dawn circled the 330-mile-wide (530 kilometers) Vesta from July 2011 through September 2012, when it departed for Ceres, which is 590 miles (950 km) across. Dawn arrived at the dwarf planet in March 2015, becoming the first spacecraft ever to orbit two different bodies beyond the Earth-moon system.


During its time at Ceres, Dawn has found bizarre bright spots on crater floors, discovered a likely ice volcano 2.5 miles (4 km) tall and helped scientists determine that water ice is common just beneath the surface, especially near the dwarf planet's poles.

The newly announced organics discovery adds to this list of achievements. The carbon-containing molecules — which Dawn spotted using its visible and infrared mapping spectrometer instrument — are concentrated in a 385-square-mile (1,000 square km) area near Ceres' 33-mile-wide (53 km) Ernutet crater, though there's also a much smaller patch about 250 miles (400 km) away, in a crater called Inamahari. 

And there could be more such areas; the team surveyed only Ceres' middle latitudes, between 60 degrees north and 60 degrees south. 


"We cannot exclude that there are other locations rich in organics not sampled by the survey, or below the detection limit," study lead author Maria Cristina De Sanctis, of the Institute for Space Astrophysics and Space Planetology in Rome, told Space.com via email.

Dawn's measurements aren't precise enough to nail down exactly what the newfound organics are, but their signatures are consistent with tar-like substances such as kerite and asphaltite, study team members said.

Organics probably native


"The organic-rich areas include carbonate and ammoniated species, which are clearly Ceres' endogenous material, making it unlikely that the organics arrived via an external impactor," co-author Simone Marchi, a senior research scientist at the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado, said in a statement. 

In addition, the intense heat generated by an asteroid or comet strike likely would have destroyed the organics, further suggesting that the molecules are native to Ceres, study team members said.


The organics might have formed via reactions involving hot water, De Sanctis and her colleagues said. Indeed, "Ceres shows clear signatures of pervasive hydrothermal activity and aqueous alteration," they wrote in the new study.

Such activity likely would have taken place underground. Dawn mission scientists aren't sure yet how organics generated in the interior could make it up to the surface and leave the signatures observed by the spacecraft.

"The geological and morphological settings of Ernutet are still under investigation with the high-resolution data acquired in the last months, and we do not have a definitive answer for why Ernutet is so special," De Sanctis said.

It's already clear, however, that Ceres is a complex and intriguing world — one that astrobiologists are getting more and more excited about.

"In some ways, it is very similar to Europa and Enceladus," De Sanctis said, referring to ocean-harboring moons of Jupiter and Saturn, respectively. 

"We see compounds on the surface of Ceres like the ones detected in the plume of Enceladus," she added. "Ceres' surface can be considered warmer with respect to the Saturnian and Jovian satellites, due to [its] distance from the sun. However, we do not have evidence of a subsurface ocean now on Ceres, but there are hints of subsurface recent fluids."


15 February 2017

German pro-White candidate calls out for the Führer


An Alternative for Germany (AfD) parliamentary hopeful has shared a photo of Hitler with the words Missed since 1945.” The scandal comes days after another senior member called Berlin’s Holocaust Memorial “a monument of shame.”

Elena Roon, a chairwoman and a parliamentary candidate in the Nuremberg area, shared the image of Adolf Hitler among fellow members in a closed WhatsApp group, local media reported. 

The photo came alongside the captions: “Missed since 1945 … Adolf, please get in touch! Germany needs you! The German people!” In another photo of the Fuhrer sent by Roon on the messenger, Hitler is portrayed ruffling his hair, saying “Islamists... I forgot them!”

Roon, a Russian-German, is known as a founder of ‘Sichere Heimat’ (Safe homeland) – a local far-right activist group campaigning against refugees. Last December, she also became chairwoman of AfD’s district association in southern Nuremberg, according to Spiegel.


Though she did not deny sending the images, Roon told Merkur newspaper that she distances herself from “right-wing extremism and anti-Semitism.” She also protested that “in no way” did she want Hitler to come back, arguing: “Whoever wishes to draw the conclusion that I condone what it says in the images is twisting the truth round completely.” 

It was not immediately clear how the controversial messages came to light, but the AfD leadership has already launched internal investigation, fearing that the scandal would bring the anti-immigration party into disrepute.

The AfD’s Bavarian branch head, Petr Bystron, said the party has taken the case “very seriously,” adding, “If there is something that damages the party, consequences will follow.” However, he then noted that the allegations were “most probably unfounded,” according to Spiegel.

The Bavarian city of Nuremberg once held paramount significance during the Nazi era, being the venue of massive annual NSDAP conventions. In 1935, Hitler ordered the Reichstag to convene in the city to adopt the infamous Nuremberg race laws which targeted German Jews and other ‘non-Aryans’, and described them as “enemies of the race-based state.”

With the 2017 general election looming, the AfD is struggling to polish its reputation despite controversies surrounding some top party members. Earlier in January, Bjorn Hoecke, the AfD leader in Thuringia, described Germany Berlin’s Holocaust Memorial as a “monument of shame” and vowed a “180-degree shift in the policy of remembrance.”

As the speech caused outrage, the party quickly moved to expel the far-right politician despite widespread support for him among the grassroots membership.

AfD leader Frauke Petry, who personally initiated the move, said Hoecke had crossed the line of what is “democratically acceptable,” while some German newspapers responded with publishing front page images of the politician and the top Nazi propagandist Josef Goebbels, with the caption: “He’s still there.”

Scientists find a hot 'super-Earth' and 60 more planets, boosting chances of discovering life


Astronomers have found 60 new planets near our own – boosting the chances of finding one that could support life.

A team of international scientists found a further 54 potential planets, meaning that in all the researchers might have discovered a full 114 planets.


And at least some of those might be like Earth, and able to support life, the researchers have said.

One of the exoplanets was a hot "super-Earth" that has a rocky surface and is found in the fourth nearest star system to our own. That planet, known as Gliese 411-b, could suggest that all the stars near our own sun have planets orbiting them – and as such that those too might be like Earth and have the conditions for supporting alien life.

The results are based on almost 61,000 individual observations of 1,600 stars taken over a 20-year period by US astronomers using the Keck-I telescope in Hawaii.


The observations were part of the Lick-Carnegie Exoplanet Survey, which was started in 1996 by astronomers Steve Vogt and Geoffrey Marcy from the University of California and Paul Butler, from the Carnegie Institute of Science, in Washington.

Dr Tuomi, who was the only European-based researcher working on the project and led analysis of the data, said: "It is fascinating to think that when we look at the nearest stars, ALL of them appear to have planets orbiting them.

"This is something astronomers were not convinced about, even as little as five years ago.

"These new planets also help us better understand the formation processes of planetary systems and provide interesting targets for future efforts to image the planets directly."

Dr Butler said: "This paper and data release is one of my crowning achievements as an astronomer. It represents a good chunk of my life's work."

The group's paper has been accepted for publication in The Astrophysical Journal.

13 February 2017

Milk Quickly Becoming The Official Beverage Of The Alt-Right


A group of pro-Trump patriots who were attended the Shia Labeouf “He Will Not Divide Us” [f]art installation were chugging milk as they entertained everyone around them. Some alt-righters also have theories that since White people have a higher tolerance for lactose, that’s another reason to get behind the edible liquid. The good people at the Milk Board are going to be thrilled! #GotAltRight?

Baby galaxies light up the universe


Looking up at a dark night sky it might not seem it but our Universe is full of light. In fact, we probably take for granted that we can see across space to those distant stars and even more distant galaxies. There was however a time when we wouldn’t have seen those stars, there was a time when a fog lay across it. That time was the Cosmic Dark Ages. Now we may know how it ended thanks to new observations using the Hubble Space Telescope.

The Cosmic Dark Ages began 330,000 years after the Big Seed when the Universe cooled enough to allow atoms to form, revealing the Cosmic Microwave Background. The atoms of hydrogen stretched across the near featureless early Universe for millions of years. These atoms acted like a fog, blocking the light from the newly formed baby galaxies and stars. A billion years later, the Universe had dramatically changed with the fog now vanished in a process known as the Epoch of Reionisation, definitively ending the Dark Ages.

Peering deep into the Universe we see objects as there were when the light first left them. Images such as the Hubble Ultra Deep Field show that huge numbers of galaxies of all sizes had grown surprisingly quickly in the early Universe. Yet even the Hubble Space Telescope can only see the brighter of these galaxies at such enormous distances. Adding together everything we can see simply doesn’t provide enough light, similar to the type of ultraviolet light that burns your skin on the beach, to ionise away the fog. Instead astronomers have tried to locate other sources of ultraviolet light.

Feeding blackholes are an obvious choice, creating huge amounts of ionising radiation from material swirling around the gravitational ‘plughole’ at nearly the speed of light. Alternatively, the first stars (known as Pop III stars) could be giants exploding in spectacular fashion, hundreds of times more energetically than anything we see today. However, there may well not be enough of either to provide the huge amount of ionising ultraviolet to light up the early universe.


Instead we can turn to a less exotic source of light. Vast numbers of baby galaxies, beyond the limits of even Hubble’s ability to see. In model universes, created as part of the DRAGONS simulation series led by Prof Stuart Wyithe, we showed that ever greater numbers of ever smaller baby galaxies could light up an entire Universe with their combined light.

The issue with testing this idea was not even the Hubble Space Telescope can see these baby galaxies as far away as in the distant Epoch of Reionisation. Instead, Dr Rachel Livermore and colleagues used the gravity of giant clusters of galaxies to magnify background objects. This effectively meant that Hubble became ten times more powerful, but first they had to remove the blinding effects of the bright nearby galaxies in the cluster itself. After applying this technique, the astronomers uncovered 167 magnified baby galaxies. Finding so many baby galaxies tentatively suggests there may well be enough even smaller objects to light up the universe as simulations had predicated.

However confirming how the Cosmic Dark Ages ended will take even bigger telescopes than Hubble, including its successor mission the James Webb Space Telescope or on Earth the Giant Magellan Telescope and event the continent-spanning Square Kilometre Array.

For now at least, ingenious use of a naturally occurring cosmic magnifying glass suggests baby galaxies are a leading culprit for bringing light to our Universe’s darkest moment.

11 February 2017

Dwarf Star 200 Light Years Away Contains Life's Building Blocks


Many scientists believe the Earth was dry when it first formed, and that the building blocks for life on our planet -- carbon, nitrogen and water -- appeared only later as a result of collisions with other objects in our solar system that had those elements.

Today, a UCLA-led team of scientists reports that it has discovered the existence of a white dwarf star whose atmosphere is rich in carbon and nitrogen, as well as in oxygen and hydrogen, the components of water. The white dwarf is approximately 200 light years from Earth and is located in the constellation Boötes.

Benjamin Zuckerman, a co-author of the research and a UCLA professor of astronomy, said the study presents evidence that the planetary system associated with the white dwarf contains materials that are the basic building blocks for life. And although the study focused on this particular star -- known as WD 1425+540 -- the fact that its planetary system shares characteristics with our solar system strongly suggests that other planetary systems would also.


The scientists report that a minor planet in the planetary system was orbiting around the white dwarf, and its trajectory was somehow altered, perhaps by the gravitational pull of a planet in the same system. That change caused the minor planet to travel very close to the white dwarf, where the star's strong gravitational field ripped the minor planet apart into gas and dust. Those remnants went into orbit around the white dwarf -- much like the rings around Saturn, Zuckerman said -- before eventually spiraling onto the star itself, bringing with them the building blocks for life.

The researchers think these events occurred relatively recently, perhaps in the past 100,000 years or so, said Edward Young, another co-author of the study and a UCLA professor of geochemistry and cosmochemistry. They estimate that approximately 30 percent of the minor planet's mass was water and other ices, and approximately 70 percent was rocky material.

The research suggests that the minor planet is the first of what are likely many such analogs to objects in our solar system's Kuiper belt. The Kuiper belt is an enormous cluster of small bodies like comets and minor planets located in the outer reaches of our solar system, beyond Neptune. Astronomers have long wondered whether other planetary systems have bodies with properties similar to those in the Kuiper belt, and the new study appears to confirm for the first time that one such body exists.

White dwarf stars are dense, burned-out remnants of normal stars. Their strong gravitational pull causes elements like carbon, oxygen and nitrogen to sink out of their atmospheres and into their interiors, where they cannot be detected by telescopes.

The research, published in the Astrophysical Journal Letters, describes how WD 1425+540 came to obtain carbon, nitrogen, oxygen and hydrogen. This is the first time a white dwarf with nitrogen has been discovered, and one of only a few known examples of white dwarfs that have been impacted by a rocky body that was rich in water ice.



"If there is water in Kuiper belt-like objects around other stars, as there now appears to be, then when rocky planets form they need not contain life's ingredients," said Siyi Xu, the study's lead author, a postdoctoral scholar at the European Southern Observatory in Germany who earned her doctorate at UCLA.

"Now we're seeing in a planetary system outside our solar system that there are minor planets where water, nitrogen and carbon are present in abundance, as in our solar system's Kuiper belt," Xu said. "If Earth obtained its water, nitrogen and carbon from the impact of such objects, then rocky planets in other planetary systems could also obtain their water, nitrogen and carbon this way."

A rocky planet that forms relatively close to its star would likely be dry, Young said.

"We would like to know whether in other planetary systems Kuiper belts exist with large quantities of water that could be added to otherwise dry planets," he said. "Our research suggests this is likely."

According to Zuckerman, the study doesn't settle the question of whether life in the universe is common.

"First you need an Earth-like world in its size, mass and at the proper distance from a star like our sun," he said, adding that astronomers still haven't found a planet that matches those criteria.

The researchers observed WD 1425+540 with the Keck Telescope in 2008 and 2014, and with the Hubble Space Telescope in 2014. They analyzed the chemical composition of its atmosphere using an instrument called a spectrometer, which breaks light into wavelengths. Spectrometers can be tuned to the wavelengths at which scientists know a given element emits and absorbs light; scientists can then determine the element's presence by whether it emits or absorbs light of certain characteristic wavelengths. In the new study, the researchers saw the elements in the white dwarf's atmosphere because they absorbed some of the background light from the white dwarf.

09 February 2017

Campuses See Rise In Pro-White Populist Movements


Canadian campuses are seeing an alarming encouraging rise in right-wing pro-White populism according to Steven Zhou, a Toronto-based journalist.

Zhou was prompted to make the claim in a CBC opinion piece after a number of posters and flyers with outright racist messages were circulated on campuses across the country, including McGill University, the University of Toronto, the University of Alberta, McMaster University, and others.

In September 2016, posters circulated at the University of Alberta (U of A) that read, “Fuck Your Turban.” In 2015, a “White Students Union” advertisement was also found on several campuses in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA).

Zhou said in his article that this is a result of the emboldening populist wave started by the newly elected President of the United States, Donald Trump.

In an interview, Zhou referred to the Jan. 29 Quebec mosque shooting as a sign that “Canada is not immune” to far-right ideology.

Jennifer Evans, a Carleton University history professor, said extreme right ideas have always had a presence on university campuses.

“I don’t think it was ever not a part of the landscape,” Evans said.

Zhou and Evans both said university campuses are a place for free exchange of ideas and informed, responsible dialogue based around informed analysis of literature. But Zhou said this idea can be exploited to cultivate movements such as right-wing populism and the alt-right.

Jacob Allin, a third-year Carleton political science student and member of the Carleton Conservatives, said right-wing populism has not increased at Carleton from his experience.

“I believe there are people on campus who believe in right-wing populism, just as there are those who believe in left-wing populism. Although this number is likely to be comparatively smaller,” he said.

Allin said those espousing left-wing views often incorrectly mix conservatism with right-wing populism.

“I would say that even conservative views have been looked down upon by the university administration, faculty, and student population,” Allin said. “I think on campus there is still a general fear for those on the right to publicly and openly express their right-wing views for fear of being attacked.”

But Evans said it’s important to look at the form right-wing populism has taken. She said it can take a racially charged form, with the idea that migration endangers and undermines traditional ethno-cultural values.

“It also often proclaims the importance of traditional gender roles as buttressing the nuclear, heterosexual family, which populists feel is under threat from cosmopolitan, rights-based society,” Evans said.

She said social media has given  people anonymity to share these views openly, and added that even before the digital age one might stumble upon anti-Semitic writing in a library book or on defaced posters.

“Just as social media has given populists a voice, so too has it provided opportunity to challenge these ideas in an open forum,” she said.

Evans runs a project called My Hate 2.0, which explores the way civil society uses digital media to formulate an opposition to the “radical right,” as she described it.

She said one does not need to think solely in terms of new media for evidence of how these ideas make their way to university campuses.

“Old technology—like the scrawling on bathroom walls—is a perfect example of a place where hateful ideas manifest,” Evans said.

Zhou said university administrations are often not equipped to deal with incidents such as the ones that occurred at the U of A and some universities in the GTA.

He said  the gap between the administration and students doesn’t allow the administration to fully understand the situation.

University professors can examine these ideas carefully and thoroughly, based on an analysis of evidence, as intellectual, socio-cultural phenomena, according to Evans.