Monthly Archives: October 2013

Phoenix Zombie Walk 2013 – Photos by Cowgirlzen Photography

All images courtesy Song River of CowGirlZen Photography. See more atcowgirlzenphotography.smugmug.com or amazingarizonacomiccon.com.

These are just a sample posted on local news media.  Try out the links above and have a Happy Halloween!  I am off the rest of the night to go haunting others…

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Tamu Massif, Earth’s Largest Volcano, Lurks Beneath Pacific Ocean

Tamu Massif, Earth’s Largest Volcano, Lurks Beneath Pacific Ocean

Posted: 09/06/2013 8:34 am EDT  |  Updated: 09/06/2013 10:28 am EDT

The world’s largest volcano lurks beneath the Pacific Ocean, researchers announced today (Sept. 5) in the journal Nature Geoscience.

Called the Tamu Massif, the enormous mound dwarfs the previous record holder, Hawaii’s Mauna Loa, and is only 25 percent smaller than Olympus Mons on Mars, the biggest volcano in Earth’s solar system, said William Sager, lead study author and a geologist at the University of Houston.

“We think this is a class of volcano that hasn’t been recognized before,” Sager said. “The slopes are very shallow. If you were standing on this thing, you would have a difficult time telling which way was downhill.”

Tamu is 400 miles (650 kilometers) wide but only about 2.5 miles (4 km) tall. It erupted for a few million years during the early Cretaceous period, about 144 million years ago, and has been extinct since then, the researchers report. [50 Amazing Volcano Facts]

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A 3D map of Tamu Massif, the world’s biggest volcano. (Click image for larger version.)

Explaining ocean plateaus

Like other massive volcanoes, Tamu Massif seems to have a central cone that spewed lava down its broad, gentle slopes. The evidence comes from seismic surveys and lava samples painstakingly collected over several years of surveys by research ships. The seismic waves show lava flows dipping away from the summit of the volcano. There appears to be a series of calderas at the summit, similar in shape to the elongated and merged craters atop Mauna Loa, Sager said.

Until now, geologists thought Tamu Massif was simply part of an oceanic plateau called Shatsky Rise in the northwest Pacific Ocean. Oceanic plateaus are massive piles of lava whose origins are still a matter of active scientific debate. Some researchers think plumes of magma from deep in the mantle punch through the crust, flooding the surface with lava. Others suggest pre-existing weaknesses in the crust, such as tectonic-plate boundaries, provide passageways for magma from the mantle, the layer beneath the crust. Shatsky Rise formed atop a triple junction, where three plates pulled apart.

william sager
Tamu Massif on Shatsky Rise in the northwest Pacific Ocean, compared in size to Olympus Mons on Mars. (Click image for larger version.)

Tamu Massif’s new status as a single volcano could help constrain models of how oceanic plateaus form, Sager said. “For anyone who wants to explain oceanic plateaus, we have new constraints,” he told LiveScience. “They have to be able to explain this volcano forming in one spot and deliver this kind of magma supply in a short time.”

Geochemist David Peate of the University of Iowa, who was not involved in the study, said he looks forward to new models explaining the pulses of magma that built Shatsky Rise. Tamu Massif is the biggest and oldest volcano, and the cones grow smaller and younger to the northeast of Tamu. Sager and his colleagues suggest that pulses of magma created the volcanic trail.

“It seems that in many oceanic plateaus the melting is continuous, but here you have a big shield volcano,” Peate told LiveScience. “Understanding the source of the volume of that magma, the rate of production of the magma and the time interval between those pulses will help give better constraints to feed into those models,” he said.

Sager said other, bigger volcanoes could be awaiting discovery at other oceanic plateaus, such as Ontong Java Plateau, located north of the Solomon Islands in the southwest Pacific Ocean. “Structures that are under the ocean are really hard to study,” he said.

Floating volcano

Oceanic plateaus are the biggest piles of lava on Earth. The outpourings have been linked to mass extinctions and climate change. The volume of Tamu Massif alone is about 600,000 cubic miles (2.5 million cubic km). The entire volcano is bigger than the British Isles or New Mexico.

Despite Tamu’s huge size, the ship surveys showed little evidence the volcano’s top ever poked above the sea. The world’s biggest volcano has been hidden because it sits on thin oceanic crust (or lithosphere), which can’t support its weight. Its top is about 6,500 feet (1,980 meters) below the ocean surface today.

“In the case of Shatsky Rise, it formed on virtually zero thickness lithosphere, so it’s in isostatic balance,” Sager said. “It’s basically floating all the time, so the bulk of Tamu Massif is down in the mantle. The Hawaiian volcanoes erupted onto thick lithosphere, so it’s like they have a raft to hold on to. They get up on top and push it down. And with Olympus Mons, it’s like it formed on a two-by-four.”

Sager and his colleagues have studied Shatsky Rise for decades, seeking to solve the puzzle of oceanic plateaus. About 20 years ago, they named Tamu Massif after Texas A&M University, Sager’s former employer, he said.

Email Becky Oskin or follow her @beckyoskin. Follow us @OAPlanetFacebook &Google+. Original article on LiveScience’s OurAmazingPlanet.

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Smart gun technologies

Smart gun technologies making weapons more accurate — and more deadly

By Gene J. Koprowski

Published July 19, 2013

FoxNews.com
  • Tracking Point gun.jpg

    In the action-thriller “The Bourne Legacy,” Pentagon black ops assasin Aaron Cross takes down an airborne CIA drone with a rifle from more than a mile away. With TrackingPoint’s tech, anyone can perform such a trick. (TRACKINGPOINT)

  • Supergun sketch.jpg

    TrackingPoint borrows the target-locking technology from jets to turn any rifle into a super accurate sniper gun capable of consistently hitting a target at over 1.75 miles. (TRACKINGPOINT)

The marriage of technology and weaponry is creating a growing but expensive class of “smart” guns that promises to boost security, improve accuracy — and make guns even deadlier. But even gun-rights advocates aren’t sure that’s such a good thing.

“Are there any legitimate gun owners who are calling for this technology for safety? I haven’t heard of one,” said Jim Wallace, executive director of the Massachusetts Gun Owners Action League, in a recent interview.

One example is a newly unveiled “supergun” from TrackingPointthat emulates the target-locking technology from jets to turn any rifle into an ultra-accurate sniper gun capable of consistently hitting a target from 1.75 miles away.

“With [this] technology, shooting a hunting rifle is like being a pilot in a fighter jet,” Jason Schauble, CEO of the Austin, Texas-based company, told FoxNews.com. “You tag a target, and lock onto it. Then you engage the target for a shot.”

‘It won’t take years to learn to shoot long-range. Just minutes.’

– Jason Schauble, CEO of TrackingPoint 

Other gun rights groups strike a more measured albeit still cautious approach.

“The National Shooting Sports Foundation does not oppose the development of authorized user recognition technology for firearms,”wrote NSSF Senior Vice Presidentand General Counsel Larry Keane on the group’s blog. “What the industry does oppose are ill-conceived mandates … on the use of this conceptual technology.”

Smart gun boosters say the new weapons will reduce accidents with rifles or other guns at home. That’s the point of Yardarm Technologies innovation, for example: a geo-location system that tracks a gun and can remotely lock it (or fire it).

“Suppose you and your family are on vacation in Las Vegas, and your firearm is back at home. Wouldn’t you want to know in real time if an intruder, or worse a child, is handling your gun?” said Bob Stewart, Yardarm’s CEO, in a statement to the media. “We want the gun owner to stay connected to their firearm, no matter what the circumstance.”

Jim Schaff, vice president of marketing for the company, acknowledged the controversy, but thinks the technology is ready for the mainstream.

“This kind of technology needs to be accepted by the consumer,” he told FoxNews.com. “We’re developing technology in a way that is helpful to users but not too controversial.”

YardArm’s tech should be ready in a prototype form within 60 days, Schaff said.

Some gun users are dismissive of smart gun technology such as TrackingPoint’s, which sells its sniper rifle as a package for as much as $22,000 or more. They prefer riflemen to get their skills the old fashioned way: through years of training.

“It’s a very expensive piece of machinery, and very heavy, requiring extensive training, learning and practice for it to be of any use at all at mile-plus distances,” said Jameson Campaigne, a board member of the American Conservative Union and a staunch advocate of Second Amendment rights.

Campaigne told FoxNews.com would-be shooters should hunker down, go to a rifle range, and get trained by a retired gunnery sergeant.

But they don’t have to, TrackingPoint says. Its tech means that a new era in precision marksmanship is emerging — an era they call the “democratization of marksmanship.”

“We use technology that’s a network tracking scope integrated with a normal firearm,” Schauble told FoxNews.com. “We make it into a smart rifle. There’s a ballistic computer in it. There’s the ability to track targets. There’s a Wi-Fi server that allows it to record video of everything.”

A retired U.S. Marine Corps officer who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, Schauble tells FoxNews.com the rifle will give hunters or military combatants the ability to control for weather and other environmental factors as well as human error.

“This allows the shooter to take only the good shot,” he said. “We’re selling it to the commercial market for long-range hunters and shooters. We’re also in discussions with various elements of the U.S. government about implementing the technology.”

Smart guns may finally have their day, after years of development. The New Jersey Institute of Technology showed a personalized gun in 2005 with biometric sensors in its grip and a customized trigger that tracks a shooter’s hand size, strength, and grip style. It was programmed to recognize only the owner, or anyone the owner authorizes.

Even Colt got in the game, developing a bracelet in the late 90s that emits a radio signal that stirs a mechanism inside a weapon to allow the gun to be fired.

Today’s models improve on those ideas. Schauble said TrackingPoint’s new gun technologies include gyroscopes and magnetometers in the rifle, which give the rifle consistent results.

“It won’t take years to learn to shoot long-range. Just minutes,” he told FoxNews.com.

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Zombie Apocalypse Pictures for Halloween Tomorrow (Warning: Graphic)

Zombie Apocalypse Pictures for Halloween Tomorrow (Warning: Graphic)

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The making of a mysterious Renaissance map

The making of a mysterious Renaissance map

By Tanya Lewis

Published October 25, 2013

LiveScience
  • cartamarina1

    The Carta Marina, made in 1516, relied on detailed knowledge from nautical charts and books. (COURTESY OF THE LIBRARY OF CONGRESS AND THE JAY I KISLAK FOUNDATION.)

NEW YORK –  Not much is known about how Renaissance cartographer Martin Waldseemller created his 1516 “Carta marina” world map, possibly the most up-to-date conception of the world at the time.

But scholar Chet Van Duzer offered a rare peek into Waldseemller’s process Tuesday night (Oct. 22) during a talk here at the New York Public Library.

“A careful analysis of his sources allows us to go inside his workshop in Saint-Di [in France] and essentially watch him at work as he made the Carta marina,” Van Duzer, who is based at the Library of Congress, said in his talk. [See Photos of the Mysterious Carta Marina Map]

Van Duzer and his colleague John Hessler recently published a book on Waldseemller’s works entitled “Seeing the World Anew: The Radical Vision of Martin Waldseemller’s 1507 & 1516 World Maps,” (Levenger Press, 2012).

Waldseemller is best known for his 1507 world map, the first to call the New World “America.” The cartographer began his career, Van Duzer said, by basing his maps on those of the Alexandrine geographer Claudius Ptolemy from the second century A.D. These maps were based on geographic descriptions in books, rather than direct maritime knowledge.

But in making the Carta marina, printed just nine years later, Waldseemller abandoned his older sources in favor of contemporary nautical charts, maps of maritime regions and coastlines that seafaring explorers of the time would have used.

“When he came to create his new monumental world map, the Carta marina, Waldseemller made a choice between these two competing cartographic systems, the Ptolemaic tradition and the nautical chart tradition,” Van Duzer said “and he based his map on nautical charts.”

Waldseemller based the Carta marina‘s coastlines on a nautical chart made by Nicolo de Caverio of Genoa in about 1503. The two maps have similar coastal place names and layouts. For example, the shapes of Greenland, the eastern coast of South America and Africa are nearly identical.

One major difference is that the Carta marina omits a large part of northeast Asia and Japan probably because these regions were relatively unknown to European explorers, Van Duzer said.

Unlike the Caverio map, Waldseemller’s map is crowded with descriptive texts and illustrations of royal rulers.

The Carta marina depicts King Manuel of Portugal riding a sea monster near the southern tip of Africa, symbolizing Portugal’s control of the sea route between Africa and India. The image was most likely inspired by an image of Neptune riding a sea monster in Italian printmaker Jacopo de Barbaris print of Venice, Van Duzer said.

The map also includes an image of Noah’s Ark resting in the mountains of Armenia, probably based on similar images in other nautical charts of the time, Van Duzer said.

The Carta marina depicts India as a land of animalistic people and barbarism. For instance, there’s an image of “suttee,” the Hindu practice of a widow burning herself to death on the funeral pyre of her husband. Other less well-known areas, such as America, contain images of cannibalism.

Despite these seemingly outdated images, the Carta marina still represents a leap forward in cartography, because Waldseemller relied on much more updated sources than he did for his earlier 1507 map. In addition to nautical charts, Van Duzer’s analysis reveals, the Renaissance cartographer relied on books written by recent explorers.

“The Carta marina is Waldseemllers most original creation,” Van Duzer said. “He began his cartographic career by redrawing Ptolemy, but ended it by creating something entirely new, a mosaic image of the world with each stone of his own careful choosing.”

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Magnificent machinery

Magnificent machinery (26 Photos)

SEPTEMBER 27, 2013

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India digs for treasure on tip from Hindu holy man

India digs for treasure on tip from Hindu holy man who says late king appeared in dreams

Published October 18, 2013

Associated Press
  • India Hidden Treasure 2.jpg

    Oct. 18, 2013: Onlookers stand at the site where the state archaeological survey of India has sent a team of archaeologists to start digging at Daundia Khera village in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh. The Indian government is digging for treasure after a civic-minded Hindu village sage dreamt that 1,000 tons of gold was buried under a ruined palace, and wrote to tell the central bank about it. (REUTERS/STRINGER)

  • India Hidden Treasure.jpg

    Oct. 17, 2013: People visit the fort of King Rao Ram Baksh Singh in Unnao in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh state, India. Archaeologists began digging for treasure beneath the 19th century fort on Friday, after a popular Hindu holy man said a former king appeared to him in a dream and told him of the cache. (AP PHOTO)

UNNAO, INDIA –  Archaeologists began digging for treasure beneath a 19th century fort in northern India on Friday, after a popular Hindu holy man said a former king appeared to him in a dream and told him of a nearly $50 billion cache.

The treasure hunt began after Hindu swami Shobhan Sarkar relayed his dream to an Indian government minister who was visiting the swami’s ashram last month.

The swami said the spirit of King Rao Ram Baksh Singh, who was hanged in 1858 after rising up against British colonial forces, told him to take care of the 1,000-ton treasure hidden under the late king’s fort in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh.

Indian geological and archaeological officials surveyed the area Sunday and found evidence of heavy metal about 66 feet underground, District Magistrate Vijay Karan Anand said. Digging would the only way to confirm which type of metal.

‘Everyone in the village knows about it.’

– 60-year-old area resident Vidyawati Sharma 

The Archaeological Survey of India said it would begin digging under a temple contained within the ruins of the old fort.

A host of interested parties have already lined up to stake a claim to the treasure, believed to be in gold and silver.

One of the king’s descendants, Navchandi Veer Pratap Singh, said “if gold is really found there, we should get our share.”

Uttar Pradesh state authorities, as well as local officials, also said they had a right to the wealth.

“The treasure trove should be used for the development of the state,” local lawmaker Kuldeep Senger said. Uttar Pradesh, with a staggering population of 200 million, is one of the poorest and least developed states in India.

Residents of the impoverished Daundia Khera village, who have no access to electricity, said they have long known about the treasure from stories told by their elders.

“Everyone in the village knows about it,” said 60-year-old Vidyawati Sharma, who learned the stories from her father-in-law.

Locals have found silver and gold coins in the area in Unnao district, about 50 miles southwest of the state’s capital of Lucknow, according to the swami’s disciple, Om Ji. “No one knew exactly where” the treasure was until the late king visited the swami in his sleep, he said.

However, officials from the Archaeological Survey of India denied that the agency had begun the excavations at the bidding of the Hindu holy man.

“Archaeology doesn’t work according to the dreams of a holy man, or anybody else. Archaeology is a science. We are carrying out this excavation on the basis of our findings” at the site, said Syed Jamal Hasan, an agency official.

Authorities have set up barricades against thousands of people who have since thronged to the village in hopes of seeing the treasure, or possibly taking a small piece home. People were offering prayers at the temple within the fort’s ruins.

Locals also said they hoped Swami Sarkar’s vision turned out to be real, as he “is revered as God in this area because he has done a lot for this place,” schoolteacher Chandrika Rani said.

The Supreme Court said Friday that it would consider a petition for the court to monitor the treasure hunt, amid fears that some of the riches could be stolen.

Indian officials are also unearthing and cataloging another treasure trove found two years ago in a 16th century Hindu temple, and have barred the media and public from the excavation site in the southern state of Kerala. The discovery of that treasure, including bagfuls of coins, jeweled crowns and golden statues of gods and goddesses, made the Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple the richest known religious institution in India. The former royal family that has remained the temple’s trustees since India’s 1947 independence has said the treasure belongs to the Hindu deity Vishnu, who is also known in the region as Padmanabhaswamy.

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