; Phantoms and Monsters: Pulse of the Paranormal

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Fortean / Alternative News: Philippine Volcano Erupts, Solar Storm Warnings and Magnetic Pole Shift

Thousands flee homes as Philippine volcano erupts

Thousands of people in the Philippines fled their homes as a volcano erupted yesterday, sending a spectacular column of ash high into the sky, residents said. The eruption of Bulusan, a 1,559-metre (5,115-foot) volcano, turned mid-morning into night for about 20 minutes across largely farming areas around its slopes, regional army spokesman Major Harold Cabunoc told AFP.

There was a major ashfall. There was zero visibility," Cabunoc said. State volcanologist Ramil Vaquilar told AFP that rumbling sounds accompanied the ash column that rose between two and 2.5 kilometres (1.2-1.6 miles) above the crater. About 2,000 residents were evacuated from three farming villages in the area as the government banned people from within four kilometres of the crater, said Lieutenant-Colonel Santiago Enginco, the local army commander.

Thirty-eight high school students were treated for ashfall inhalation, Enginco said. Volcanic ash can cause nose, throat, eye or skin irritation as well as contaminate tap water, while prolonged exposure can cause lung disease, according to the health ministry. Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology director Renato Solidum said on national television that planes should avoid the skies over Bulusan, as ash might clog jet engines.

However the area is not widely used in the aviation industry. Bulusan is among 23 active volcanoes in the Philippines, which is located in the so-called Ring of Fire of volcanic activity around the Pacific. Bulusan, 360 kilometres southeast of Manila, last erupted between March and June of 2006. The volcano also shot ash into the air in November last year, forcing hundreds of people to evacuate their homes. However volcanologists said this was not an eruption, rather heated ash deposits near the crater mouth that exploded and burst out on contact with rainwater.-- AFP


Renewed Solar Storm Warnings

dailymail - The world is overdue a ferocious 'space storm' that could knock out communications satellites, ground aircraft and trigger blackouts - causing hundreds of billions of pounds of damage, scientists say.

Astronomers today warned that mankind is now more vulnerable to a major solar storm than at any time in history - and that the planet should prepare for a global Katrina-style disaster.

A massive eruption of the sun would save waves of radiation and charged particles to Earth, damaging the satellite systems used for synchronising computers, airline navigation and phone networks.

If the storm is powerful enough it could even crash stock markets and cause power cuts that last weeks or months, experts told the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

The chances of a disruption from space are getting stronger because the sun is entering the most active period of its 11 to 12-year natural cycle.

The world got a taster of the sun's explosive power last week when the strongest solar eruption in five years sent a torrent of charged plasma hurtling towards the world at 580 miles per second.

The storm created spectacular aurorae and disrupted radio communications.

Professor Sir John Beddington, the government's chief scientific adviser, said: 'The issue of space weather has got to be taken seriously. We've had a relatively quiet period of space weather - but we can't expect that quiet period to continue.

'At the same time over that period the potential vulnerability of our systems has increased dramatically, whether it is the smart grid in our electricity systems or the ubiquitous use of GPS in just about everything we use these days.

'The situation has changed. We need to be thinking about the ability both to categorise and explain and give early warning when particular types of space weather are likely to occur.'

Solar storms are caused by massive explosions on the sun.

The explosions release waves of X-rays and ultraviolet radiation which smash into the Earth within minutes, disrupting radio signals and damaging the electronics of satellites.

They are followed ten to 20 minutes later by a burst of energetic particles which cause even more havoc with satellites - and then 15 to 30 hours later by supercharged plasma which collides with Earth's magnetic field.

The plasma create the aurora - or Northern Lights - and can induce electrical currents in power lines and cables.

Jane Lubchenco, head of the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, said: 'This is not a matter of if, it is simply a matter of when and how big.

'The last time we had a maximum in the solar cycle, about 10 years ago, the world was a very different place. Cell phones are now ubiquitous; they were certainly around but we didn't rely on them for so many different things.

'Many things that we take for granted today are so much more prone to the process of space weather than was the case in the last solar maximum.'

The sun goes through a regular activity cycle about 11 years long on average. The last solar maximum occurred in 2001. Its latest minimum was particularly weak and long lasting.

Space storms are not new. The first major solar flare was recorded by British astronomer Richard Carrington in 1859.

Other solar geomagnetic storms have been observed in recent decades. One huge solar flare in 1972 cut off long-distance telephone communication in the mid-western state of Illinois, Nasa said.

Another similar flare in 1989 'provoked geomagnetic storms that disrupted electric power transmission' and caused blackouts across the Canadian province of Quebec, the U.S. space agency said.


Pilots, boaters adjust to shift in magnetic north

sun-sentinel - Magnetic north, the point at the top of the Earth that determines compass headings, is shifting its position at a rate of about 40 miles per year. In geologic terms, it's racing from the Arctic Ocean near Canada toward Russia.

As a result, everyone who uses a compass, even as a backup to modern GPS navigation systems, needs to be aware of the shift, make adjustments or obtain updated charts to ensure they get where they intend to go, authorities say. That includes pilots, boaters and even hikers.

"You could end up a few miles off or a couple hundred miles off, depending how far you're going," said Matthew Brock, a technician with Lauderdale Speedometer and Compass, a Fort Lauderdale company that repairs compasses.

Although the magnetic shift has little impact on the average person and presents no danger to the Earth overall, it is costing the aviation and marine industries millions of dollars to upgrade navigational systems and charts.

Why is magnetic north shifting?

The Earth's core of hot liquid iron is constantly moving. That motion, combined with forces such as the Earth's rotation, dictate the position of magnetic north, not to be confused with geographic north, or the North Pole.

"Magnetic north is shifting all the time; it's a continuous process, not an event," said Jeffrey Love, a geophysicist with the U.S. Geological Survey Geomagnetism Program, based in Golden, Colo.

Over the past century, the shift has been increasing in speed. It went from creeping as slow as nine miles per year in the early 1900s to more than 35 miles per year in the 2000s. However, that acceleration also is part of natural cycle, Love said.

"In 10 to 20 years from now, it might be slowing down," he said.

Currently, the shift creates about a one-degree difference in compass direction every five years, Love said. Accordingly, the Federal Aviation Administration evaluates airport runway numbers every five years, said Kathleen Bergen, FAA spokeswoman.

The FAA could not say how many airports are affected. However, scores of large and small airports in the United States have either changed or plan to change their runways' numbers, which are based on compass directions.

Palm Beach International Airport changed its three runway numbers in December 2009 at a cost of $268,686. That included repainting the runway numbers, replacing signs and updating publications, said airport spokeswoman Casandra Davis.

Now the airport's main east-west runway is numbered 10-Left and 28-Right. Previously, it was 9-Left and 27-Right.

Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport plans to renumber its south runway as part of the $791 million expansion in 2014, said Mike Nonnemacher, the airport's director of operations. Shortly after that, the north runway numbers will be upgraded, he said.

"We wish to keep our runway designations close to what the compass says," Nonnemacher said.

When Miami International Airport's new north runway was built in 2003, it was given an updated number based on the magnetic shift, said airport spokesman Greg Chin.

"At that time, we had foresight to number the runway toward where it will be shifting," he said.

Because GPS navigation draws on satellites, it has no reliance on magnetic north. On the other hand, satellites and GPS systems can malfunction. For that reason, Tom Cartier recommends all pilots and boaters keep a compass handy as backup.

"The magnetic compass is what gets you home in your boat or plane when everything else quits," said Cartier, a senior deck instructor at Maritime Professional Training in Fort Lauderdale. "It's a very, very valuable piece of equipment."

Cartier said large ships and planes have sophisticated electronic navigation systems, but the vast majority of small boats and planes have magnetic compasses and rely on them heavily.

"They don't have the money to spend for a sophisticated system," he said.

He added that boaters should always bring updated maps, showing the latest corrections for the magnetic north shift, even if they have GPS.

The oil industry also relies on knowing the exact position of magnetic north, as companies use a device, similar to a compass, to determine what angle to drill into the earth, Love said.

"They don't drill straight down," he said. "They need to orient their drill bits to know which way they're going."

Many mobile companies equip smart phones with magnetometers, allowing their customers to see what direction they're heading. Those phones are likely to have a device that adjusts for the shift in magnetic north, said Manoj Nair, a research scientist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Geophysical Data Center.

Humans aren't the only ones affected by magnetic north. Birds that fly south for the winter and some sea turtles that migrate from Africa to South America must learn to adjust their senses so they end up migrating in the right direction, Love said.

"Some sea turtles live for a long period of time, up to 100 years," he said. "They have to accommodate the change in the magnetic field, because it changes substantially over 100 years."


UK Powerless to Stop ‘Jedis, Witches’ Spoiling 2011 Census

bloomberg - People who want to declare their religion as Jedi or call themselves witches will be free to do so in the 2011 census in England and Wales, its organizer said.

Office for National Statistics Census Director Glen Watson said that while it is “not acceptable” to submit joke answers, he is powerless to act. In the last census in 2001, 400,000 people claimed they were part of the Star Wars movement, some of them putting the answer as a protest against privacy invasion.

“The religion question is the only voluntary question on the whole questionnaire,” Watson told reporters in London today at the launch of the 482-million-pound ($782 million) project. “We would process the information and we would include that in the results, I imagine. I don’t think we would pursue somebody for declaring their religion, for example, as Jedi.”

The census aims to give an accurate snapshot of life in Britain and will focus more on how people view their identity and language ability as a result of an increase in immigration in the last decade.

Changing lifestyles and home use will also be tracked, with the section on rooms now including a category to list conservatories and studies. About 26 million forms will be sent out to households in March.

NOTE: you wouldn't want Luke Skywalker to lie? Back in 1990, the U.S. Census bureau contacted me for a clarification...I listed all my ancestries. Granted, I did check and add a list of 12 different but they did ask for it. Besides, I didn't want to slight myself...Lon


Man kills 'possessed' family

allafrica - A 38 year old man has been arrested by Gicumbi Police for killing his father and a 15-year old brother, by throwing a grenade at them, on Sunday.

The suspect, only identified as Mugabonejo, accused the deceased, whose names were not readily available, of witchcraft, Police said. The incident took place at Kisaro Sector of Rulindo District.

"The assailant is still under police interrogation to establish his motive. Preliminary investigation indicates the attack was due to a domestic related wrangle," said Police Spokesman Supt Theos Badege.

"The assailant had claimed he had two grenades in his possession and had already surrendered one to the police, during the voluntary disarmament programme."

Badege advised residents still in possession of illegal firearms and other dangerous explosives to voluntarily hand them to the Police.