Voyager 1...into the unknown
As the Voyager 1 spacecraft speeds toward interstellar space at a rate of about a million miles a day, the NASA probe is causing scientists to jettison some long-standing theories on the nature of our solar system and life along its cold, dark edge.
In three studies published Thursday in the journal Science, Voyager researchers provided the most detailed view yet of a mysterious region more than 11 billion miles from Earth, where the sun's ferocious solar winds slow to a whisper and pieces of atoms blasted across the galaxy by ancient supernovae drift into the solar system.
The area, which has been dubbed the "magnetic highway," is a newly discovered area of the heliosphere, the vast bubble of magnetism that surrounds the planets and is inflated by gusting solar winds. Like Earth's magnetosphere, which shields us from radioactive solar winds, the heliosphere shields the solar system from many of the cosmic rays that fill interstellar space.
Scientists had long envisioned its outermost layer, the heliosheath, to be a curved, distinct boundary separating the solar system from the rest of the Milky Way. They theorized that once Voyager 1 crossed that threshold, three things would happen: The sun's solar winds would become still; galactic cosmic rays would bombard Voyager from every angle; and the direction of the dominant magnetic field would change significantly because it would be coming from interstellar space, not the sun.
All of those predictions have been turned on their head by Voyager's latest instrument readings.
Although Voyager 1 is equipped with video cameras, they were shut off more than 20 years ago to save power and memory. Instead the craft observes its environment with a fragile, lattice-work antenna that measures magnetic fields as well as a cosmic ray detector and a plasma detector. (Befitting a space probe launched in 1977, the data are stored on an eight-track tape recorder.)
Toward the end of July 2012, Voyager 1's instruments reported that solar winds had suddenly dropped by half, while the strength of the magnetic field almost doubled, according to the studies. Those values then switched back and forth five times before they became fixed on Aug. 25. Since then, solar winds have all but disappeared, but the direction of the magnetic field has barely budged.
"The jumps indicate multiple crossings of a boundary unlike anything observed previously," a team of Voyager scientists wrote in one of the studies. They labeled the new area the heliosheath depletion region.
Stranger yet, Voyager 1 detected an increase in galactic cosmic rays — but found that at times they were moving in parallel instead of traveling randomly.
"This was conceptually unthinkable for cosmic rays," said Stamatios Krimigis, a solar physicist at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Md., and leader of another one of the studies. "There is no cosmic ray physicist I know who ever expected that they would not all be coming equally from all directions."
The confusion hasn't ended there.
One Voyager project scientist reported in March that the spacecraft had entered interstellar space after more than 35 years of travel. The paper by Bill Webber, a professor emeritus of astronomy at New Mexico State University, triggered a media furor in the process.
Scientists including Krimigis and Edward Stone, a Voyager project scientist at Caltech, contended that the probe had not left the solar system. Voyager 1 remained within the sun's zone of magnetic influence, and therefore within the heliosphere, they said.
"We're not free yet," Krimigis said. "This is a new region that we didn't know existed. We have no road map, and we're waiting to see what's going to happen next."
Theorists are struggling to explain the data. Some say the unexpected increase in magnetic strength is the result of spiraling magnetic fields being compressed against the interstellar medium. Others say this is impossible since there is no solar wind to push them against that boundary, and that there must be another explanation.
Len Fisk, a professor of space science at the University of Michigan, described the studies' findings as "a complete surprise." He said Voyager 1's travels were proving to be both puzzling and exciting.
"It's causing a fundamental reconsideration of how the heliosheath interacts with the local interstellar medium," said Fisk, who was not involved in the new analysis.
One of the possible explanations for Voyager's peculiar magnetic readings is that the sun's magnetic fields have combined with the interstellar magnetic field in places — a process called magnetic reconnection.
Such reconnection has been observed between the magnetic fields of the sun and Earth, said Stone, a former director of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in La Cañada Flintridge. "Maybe that's what's happening here, but we really don't know," he said.
Adding still more mystery is the fact that Voyager 2 has yet to experience anything like its twin. Both spacecraft are headed toward the forward edge of the heliosphere, but are more than 9 billion miles apart.
Although Voyager 1 was launched 16 days after Voyager 2, it followed a more direct route toward the edge of the solar system. Since 1998, when it overtook Pioneer 10, it has been the farthest man-made object from Earth.
Voyager scientists say they're in no position to predict when the probe may finally exit the solar system. It could be months, or it could be years.
"I wouldn't dare to make an estimate," Krimigis said. "Voyager will probably prove us wrong, again." - LATimes
NASA's Voyager Missions: Exploring the Outer Solar System and Beyond (Springer Praxis Books / Space Exploration)
Guinness World Records 2013
Rarely seen dolphin found two miles from sea
The body of an unusual species of dolphin has been found about two miles from the sea in County Donegal.
The mammal, with distinctive black and white markings, was found on a remote hillside near Meenbanad.
It had injuries to its head but it is not clear how it died or how it ended up so far inland.
Niamh Bonner, who came across the creature, said people are baffled about how the creature ended up in the hills.
"It is not like it is even beside a road and was dumped off a lorry," she said.
"It had to be dragged there because it is about 100 yards off the road.
"It's a bit of a mystery as to how it got there."
Padraig Whooley of the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group thinks it was part of a group of Atlantic white-sided dolphins that beached at nearby Traigheanna Bay in Dungloe on 21 June.
Mr Whooley says sightings of such dolphins are fairly uncommon as they tend to stay much further out to sea.
"The only thing I can think of is that it was taken there to decay naturally by someone.
"It could have been taken to this remote area so it could decompose naturally leaving a skeleton which could have been put on show," he said. - BBC
CRYPTID ROUNDTABLE Podcast
Cryptid Roundtable Podcast w/ Ken Gerhard & JC Johnson - if you missed it, please do yourself a favor and listen to the podcast. This was a CLASSIC show...some of the best discussion we have ever had on the program! In fact, the Cryptid Roundtable may be a regular featured program presented every 3-4 months on Beyond The Edge Radio. Listen and tell us what you think...
I had the ‘Bigfoot DNA’ tested in a highly reputable lab...here’s what I found
By Eric Berger - Back in February I savaged the release of a research paper that claimed to prove the existence of Bigfoot by providing a DNA sequence from the species.
The paper contained details of DNA from the “Sasquatch genomes,” which the authors characterized as novel and non-human.
Following the paper’s publication I solicited the views of several geneticists on the work. From their reading of the scientific paper — published in a journal that had been started just the week before — they said at best the evidence was inconclusive.
In summarizing my views of the work, led by Nacogdoches geneticist Melba Ketchum, I was blunt and brutal:
If Ketchum really had the goods she would have co-authored the paper with reputable scientists and gotten the work published in a reputable scientific journal. Instead she’s playing to an audience that doesn’t understand how science works, that wants to believe Bigfoot exists and is willing to send her some cash to further their delusions.
A funny thing happened later that week — Ketchum called me. We spoke for nearly an hour, and after the bad things I had written about her research, I was impressed that she bore no grudge and wanted to nonetheless engage with me. It was a good and constructive conversation.
I am first and foremost a journalist, and I figured if there was even a 1 percent chance that the Bigfoot evidence was real, it was worth my time to check the story out.
So I agreed to be an intermediary between Ketchum and a highly reputable geneticist in Texas, whom I trusted and knew personally. I also knew that this geneticist was first and foremost a scientist, and if there was even a 1 percent chance the Bigfoot evidence was real, he’d want check out the story. I asked, and he was willing to approach the evidence with an open mind.
(Why am I maintaining my source’s anonymity? Because some of his peers would question his engagement on such a topic, believing it unworthy of valuable research time. But make no mistake, he is a top-notch scientist at the top of his field.)
The deal was this: I would hold off writing anything until this geneticist had his lab test the DNA samples obtained by Ketchum that were purportedly a novel and non-human species. If the evidence backed up Ketchum’s claims, I had a blockbuster story. My geneticist source would have a hand in making the scientific discovery of the decade, or perhaps the century. Ketchum would be vindicated.
In short, we would all have been winners.
Alas, I met my geneticist friend this past week and I asked about the Bigfoot DNA. It was, he told me, a mix of opossum and other species. No find of the century.
I’m honestly really disappointed. A world with Bigfoot would be a little softer. A little more fun. But in my world science is the arbiter of reality. - Chron
Sasquatch: searching for the answer
Loch Ness Monsters and Raining Frogs: The World's Most Puzzling Mysteries Solved
Top Secret Sasquatch: Exposing the True Nature of Bigfoot and Its Controversial Connections to UFOs, the Fossil Record, and Human History (Forbidden Bigfoot, Part Two)
'The Conjuring' - Ed & Lorraine Warren biopic
The Conjuring - Official Trailer #1
The Conjuring TRAILER 2 (2013)
The first trailer for The Conjuring told the story from the perspective of the family, while the second and newest trailer tells it from the side of the paranormal investigators. That’s a neat trick for James Wan‘s film as you don’t get too much overlapping footage between them. But one thing you definitely get from both? Jump scares.
Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson star as Ed & Lorraine Warren who also investigate ghosts and hauntings and the like (real or fake), and they’re taken to the home of Lili Taylor and Ron Livingston, who are facing a very nasty haunting. Where the first trailer played a slightly more subtle game of reveals, this second trailer is more in your face about its tricks. Basically, there’s an unseen presence that likes to grab and throw people around. You know, for fun. - ScreenCrave