Ten bogus frights of the past that shocked the world

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Plutonium ?! What do i do with it

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  &#8220;We had just given thanks to Allah for this glorious means to destroy the Great Satan once and for all, when [sub-lieutenant] Mahmoud [Ghassan] asked, &#8216;So, what&#8217;s the next step?'&#8221; Akhtar said. &#8220;I was at a loss.&#8221;
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  The 28-year-old fanatic said he and his associates had initially assumed that at least one member of their group had the physics and engineering background necessary to construct a thermonuclear device.
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  &#8220;Many eyes were upon me,&#8221; said Basim Aljawad, whose knowledge of physics did not extend to the principles of nuclear fission. &#8220;I make nail bombs. That&#8217;s it.&#8221;
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Hack sleep and screw yourself

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  &#8220;Lack of sleep disrupts every physiologic function in the body,&#8221; said Eve Van Cauter of the University of Chicago. &#8220;We have nothing in our biology that allows us to adapt to this behavior.&#8221;
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  The amount of necessary sleep varies from person to person, with some breezing through their days on just a few hours&#8217; slumber and others barely functioning without a full 10 hours, experts say. But most people apparently need between about seven and nine hours, with studies indicating that an increased risk for disease starts to kick in when people get less than six or seven, experts say.
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  So why do mammals and birds have REM sleep at all? &#8220;The best answer I can come up with is that it&#8217;s there to prepare you for waking,&#8221; Dr. Siegel said. &#8220;When the important work of sleep is done, REM sleep just makes you as alert as you can be while you&#8217;re asleep.&#8221;
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  They found that meditating actually increases the thickness of the cortex in areas involved in attention and sensory processing, such as the prefrontal cortex and the right anterior insula.
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  “You are exercising it while you meditate, and it gets bigger,” she says. The finding is in line with studies showing that accomplished musicians, athletes and linguists all have thickening in relevant areas of the cortex. It is further evidence, says Lazar, that yogis “aren’t just sitting there doing nothing&#8221;.
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  The growth of the cortex is not due to the growth of new neurons, she points out, but results from wider blood vessels, more supporting structures such as glia and astrocytes, and increased branching and connections.
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Nuclear Plant Has Flaw Undetected for 19 Years

This is scary at first sight.Excerpt from the article

A potential problem with the emergency reactor core cooling system at the nation’s largest nuclear power plant went undetected from 1986, when it began producing power, until last week, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission(NRC) and the plant operator confirmed Thursday.

The issue was identified when engineers at the Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station did an analysis after NRC inspectors raised questions at a detailed inspection early last week. The NRC was following up to see if earlier cooling system problems had been fixed.

The review showed the emergency cooling system may not operate as expected to provide water to reactor cores after a small leak in the reactor cooling lines, NRC spokesman Victor Dricks said.

Practically, for this flaw to lead to any kind of disatrous results, lots of redundant safety systems need to fail together. Well, i am not refuting the fact that such an incident could have happened anytime in the past 19 years of its operation but chances for a complete failure and a meltdown are slim. Nevertheless, this is definitely a serious issue and hopefully, the NRC will bring in a stricter system to check all the flaws in all operating reactors.

God, i dont even want to begin to imagine what the media fuss will be, on all this.

Earthquake prone South-Asia

Nearly 20,000 dead in South Asian quake. This is very sad. On a beautiful sunday morning, this is not the kind of news i wanted to see.Eventhough i do not exactly like Pakistan or maybe just their Indian team and politicians, a toll of 20,000 innocent people is a terrible and disturbing news. And what’s more petrifying is that South Asia is Prone to more Earthquakes in the future. Here are some excerpts from this article about some of the damage that earthquakes have caused in the past.

The area along India’s northern border in disputed Kashmir is by far the hottest spot in that country, said A.K. Shukla, director of India’s Earthquake Risk Evaluation Center. He said the latest quake, unfortunately, will not be the last and may not be the largest to come.”It’s not a question of surprise, because that area is a highly seismic one,” he said. “It’s not surprising at all.”

Saturday’s quake was centered about 60 miles northeast of Islamabad in the forested mountains of Pakistani Kashmir. At least 22 aftershocks followed within 24 hours, including a 6.2-magnitude temblor.

In 1935, a magnitude-7.5 earthquake was recorded in Quetta, India, killing 50,000. In 1974, just north of the recent quake’s epicenter, a magnitude-6.2 earthquake occurred, generating 5,800 casualties.

Will the same type of collision that created the Himalayas millions of years ago be the demise of beautiful Asia and my beautiful sub-continent ? I pray for that not to happen.

Update : Death Toll at 35,000 in Pakistan Quake

Another prejudiced anti-Nuclear article

Why nuclear power is not the answer

The pendulum swings back toward nuclear power

Article By Charles Stein

I spent more years than I would care to admit writing about the Seabrook nuclear power plant in New Hampshire. The Seabrook story was exhausting, but it taught me a valuable lesson: When it comes to energy, especially the price of energy, the future is very hard to see.

Seabrook was conceived in the late 1960s, a time of great optimism about nuclear power. Nuclear plants, the utilities promised, would produce electricity that was ”too cheap to meter.” When oil prices shot up in the 1970s, eventually reaching the unheard of price of $30 a barrel, Seabrook had another selling point: it would reduce New England’s dependence on costly foreign oil.

Things turned out differently. Like many of the nuclear plants in that era, Seabrook ran into engineering and political problems. Construction advanced at a snail’s pace. Every year, the plant’s estimated cost got higher and its completion date got pushed further into the future. When Seabrook finally went on line in 1990, its price tag had reached $6 billion.

The owners had to eat some of that money, because regulators refused to pass the costs along to consumers. Changes in the price of oil made Seabrook’s economics even worse. By 1990 oil was selling for less than $23 a barrel and the price fell even lower in the years that followed.

The verdict was clear: Nuclear power was a financial disaster; oil was a bargain.

Fast-forward to today. In case you hadn’t noticed, the price of oil has gone up a lot — to about $64 a barrel. The price of natural gas — the most popular fuel source in New England’s power plants — has gone up even more sharply. Utilities that venture out to buy electricity in the spot market are paying three times as much for power as they did a year ago. Consumers could pay about 20 percent more for electricity this winter, largely because of higher oil and gas prices.

And those ”white elephant” nuclear plants like Seabrook? It turns out they are sitting in the catbird seat. Their steep initial costs have been written off over time. Their cost of fuel is minuscule, according to Steven Taub, an executive at Cambridge Energy Research Associates, a consulting firm. Even with all other costs thrown in, nuclear plants today produce power at less than half the cost of plants that burn natural gas or oil.

Like the Saudi Arabians, the owners of nuclear plants have plenty of cheap power that they can sell at high prices in deregulated energy markets, earning big profits in the process. Many of the plants, Seabrook included, were purchased by new owners in recent years who paid relatively little for the assets. In 2002, FPL Energy, a Florida company, bought a controlling interest in Seabrook for $836 million. ”In today’s market, many of those plants are worth significantly more,” Taub said.

The verdict is clear: Nuclear power is a bargain; oil and gas are a financial disaster.

There are plenty of specialists around who are firmly convinced that high oil and gas prices are here to stay. Richard Lester suggests we should be wary about such pronouncements. “Smart people don’t get this right,” said Lester, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor of nuclear science and engineering. In 2003, Lester and some colleagues wrote a report on the future of nuclear power. They assumed natural gas prices — the main competition — would stay in a range of $3 to $6 per million BTUs. Last week natural gas was selling for more than $12 per million BTUs.

The solution here is obvious: We need to be diversified. Investors spread their bets around because they don’t know which stocks will do well and which will do poorly. We need to do the same with sources of energy because, in truth, we don’t have a clue what will happen to their prices in the future. The cheap may become expensive and the expensive cheap.

When it comes to the energy future, a little humility goes a long way.

— Right on the head.

First Katrina. Now Rita

No these ain’t my girlfriends ! Well i wish but i am talking about the hurricanes which have rocked the coasts of US in the past few weeks. In another 72 hours, i am about to see a real hurricane passing through College Station, a hurricane which could totally engulf the whole state of Florida in its size. Hurricane Rita has been issued as a Category Five hurricane. It probably might become Category Two by the time it reaches here, but right now, she’s devastatingly beautiful and intense.

Watch this picture, of the eye of the Hurricane Rita.


Let me quote some specifics about a Category Five hurricane. Here you go.

Winds greater than 155 mph (greater than 135 kt or 249 km/hr). Barometric Pressure Below 920 mb (Below 27.17 in) Storm surge generally greater than 18 ft above normal. Complete roof failure on many residences and industrial buildings. Some complete building failures with small utility buildings blown over or away. All shrubs, trees, and signs blown down. Complete destruction of mobile homes. Severe and extensive window and door damage. Low-lying escape routes are cut by rising water 3-5 hours before arrival of the center of the hurricane. Major damage to lower floors of all structures located less than 15 ft above sea level and within 500 yards of the shoreline. Massive evacuation of residential areas on low ground within 5-10 miles (8-16 km) of the shoreline may be required.

And that my friend, is intensity. That is nature’s sheer sneeze. Nature’s way of reacting to the cruelty being done to her by burning more and more fossil fuels, destroying the natural cycles, industrialization, population explosion, forest invasion, disrupting eco-balance and more things which we unknowingly affect her in different ways.

I wish we could realize the effects and reduce the usage of such methods. It probably is a futile effort to pursue anything right now at this stage because the earth would not even begin to react the change for another 50 years or so. But better late than never. Right !

Anyway, out of the context, the insane mind in me wishes that i could see such a hurricane in action at its full intensity. I might chicken out if i do see it but hey, how will i know that until i witness it ?!

You can track the advance of Hurricane Rita here. Also there is a nice animation showing the path of the hurricane.

Global Warming Dilemma : Coal or Nuclear?

A very sensible article which analyzes the different sources of energy currently available and the options that are feasible to meet the growing energy needs. If you are an environmentalist at heart, you should read it and understand the current situation.

An excerpt from the article.

As usual, environmentalists are assuring everyone it can be done with renewables like wind, solar, and other alternative energies.
But there is no myth more damaging in diverting the nation’s attention from its energy problems. The universe has been pretty well explored by now there aren’t any alternative energies sitting around waiting to be discovered. We know all about solar radiation, about the winds that are driven by its heat (in conjunction with the earth’s rotation), about rivers and streams and how they can be harnessed to produce electricity. We also know about the chemical energy that is stored in the electrons at the periphery of the atom and can be tapped by burning organic compounds. And we know about the much more powerful energies that lie at the nucleus of the atom.

Well said my man ! The author nailed it right on the head. When will the people realize that it is already late and we need to start making changes today, if we desire to bring the Earth back from its brink of disaster. Wake up people. Wake up.

Solar power, Hydro-electricity and Wind power are not very dependable sources of energy and for any country, developed or developing, with a hunger for lots of electricity and power, there is no other feasible way than to tap into Nuclear Power which promises safe, clean and almost limitless power.

Go Nuclear. Save earth.

PS : If you liked the above article, then you might also like another article i linked to recently which is on the same lines with more arguments. Read it.

Indo-French joint work on Nuclear Power

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  France acknowledges the need for full international civilian nuclear co-operation with India and will work towards this objective by working with other countries and the NSG and by deepening bilateral co-operation.
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  France appreciated India’s strong commitment to preventing WMD proliferation and the ongoing steps it is taking in this regard. In this context, both countries will also work towards conclusion of a bilateral nuclear co-operation agreement.
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