রবিবার, ১৪ জুলাই, ২০১৩

Longtime aide to Baltimore mayor resigns

A longtime aide and spokesman for Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake is leaving her administration to work in the private sector.


Ryan O'Doherty's impending departure was announced in a statement Friday. His last day will be July 30.


He's worked in City Hall for five years, dating back to Rawlings-Blake's tenure as City Council president. His title was director of policy and communications, and he was deeply involved in crafting the mayor's talking points and policy agenda. He was her chief spokesman for the past three years.


The 35-year-old O'Doherty will be joining Mercy Health Services as director of external affairs and strategic communications.



Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Source: http://www.abc2news.com/dpp/news/region/baltimore_city/longtime-aide-to-baltimore-mayor-resigns

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Sure, Why Not Pretend To Be Pregnant With a Tree Baby?

Do you love plants. No, I mean really love plants. We're talking "I want sapling inside me" love. Like, "literally all I want is to birth a small but hearty tomato plant" love. Well we've got a gift for all three(?) of you: maternity vests for plant pregnancy.



Source: http://feeds.gawker.com/~r/gizmodo/full/~3/b5E5Ti7quN0/sure-why-not-pretend-to-be-pregnant-with-a-tree-baby-759516409

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সোমবার, ১ জুলাই, ২০১৩

Cloud behavior expands habitable zone of alien planets

July 1, 2013 ? A new study that calculates the influence of cloud behavior on climate doubles the number of potentially habitable planets orbiting red dwarfs, the most common type of stars in the universe. This finding means that in the Milky Way galaxy alone, 60 billion planets may be orbiting red dwarf stars in the habitable zone.

Researchers at the University of Chicago and Northwestern University based their study, which appears in Astrophysical Journal Letters, on rigorous computer simulations of cloud behavior on alien planets. This cloud behavior dramatically expanded the habitable zone of red dwarfs, which are much smaller and fainter than stars like the sun.

Current data from NASA's Kepler Mission, a space observatory searching for Earth-like planets orbiting other stars, suggest there is approximately one Earth-size planet in the habitable zone of each red dwarf. The UChicago-Northwestern study now doubles that number.

"Most of the planets in the Milky Way orbit red dwarfs," said Nicolas Cowan, a postdoctoral fellow at Northwestern's Center for Interdisciplinary Exploration and Research in Astrophysics. "A thermostat that makes such planets more clement means we don't have to look as far to find a habitable planet."

Cowan is one of three co-authors of the study, as are UChicago's Dorian Abbot and Jun Yang. The trio also provide astronomers with a means of verifying their conclusions with the James Webb Space Telescope, scheduled for launch in 2018.

The formula for calculating the habitable zone of alien planets -- where they can orbit their star while still maintaining liquid water at their surface -- has remained much the same for decades. But the formula largely neglects clouds, which exert a major climatic influence.

"Clouds cause warming, and they cause cooling on Earth," said Abbot, an assistant professor in geophysical sciences at UChicago. "They reflect sunlight to cool things off, and they absorb infrared radiation from the surface to make a greenhouse effect. That's part of what keeps the planet warm enough to sustain life."

A planet orbiting a star like the sun would have to complete an orbit approximately once a year to be far enough away to maintain water on its surface. "If you're orbiting around a low mass or dwarf star, you have to orbit about once a month, once every two months to receive the same amount of sunlight that we receive from the sun," Cowan said.

Tightly orbiting planets

Planets in such a tight orbit would eventually become tidally locked with their sun. They would always keep the same side facing the sun, like the moon does toward Earth. Calculations of the UChicago-Northwestern team indicate that the star-facing side of the planet would experience vigorous convection and highly reflective clouds at a point that astronomers call the sub-stellar region. At that location the sun always sits directly overhead, at high noon.

The team's three-dimensional global calculations determined for the first time the effect of water clouds on the inner edge of the habitable zone. The simulations are similar to the global climate simulations that scientists use to predict Earth climate. These required several months of processing, running mostly on a cluster of 216 networked computers at UChicago. Previous attempts to simulate the inner edge of exoplanet habitable zones were one-dimensional. They mostly neglected clouds, focusing instead on charting how temperature decreases with altitude.

"There's no way you can do clouds properly in one-dimension," Cowan said. "But in a three-dimensional model, you're actually simulating the way air moves and the way moisture moves through the entire atmosphere of the planet."

These new simulations show that if there is any surface water on the planet, water clouds result. The simulations further show that cloud behavior has a significant cooling effect on the inner portion of the habitable zone, enabling planets to sustain water on their surfaces much closer to their sun.

Astronomers observing with the James Webb Telescope will be able to test the validity of these findings by measuring the temperature of the planet at different points in its orbit. If a tidally locked exoplanet lacks significant cloud cover, astronomers will measure the highest temperatures when the dayside of the exoplanet is facing the telescope, which occurs when the planet is on the far side of its star. Once the planet comes back around to show its dark side to the telescope, temperatures would reach their lowest point.

But if highly reflective clouds dominate the dayside of the exoplanet, they will block a lot of infrared radiation from the surface, said Yang, a postdoctoral scientist in geophysical sciences at UChicago. In that situation "you would measure the coldest temperatures when the planet is on the opposite side, and you would measure the warmest temperatures when you are looking at the night side, because there you are actually looking at the surface rather than these high clouds," Yang said.

Earth-observing satellites have documented this effect. "If you look at Brazil or Indonesia with an infrared telescope from space, it can look cold, and that's because you're seeing the cloud deck," Cowan said. "The cloud deck is at high altitude, and it's extremely cold up there."

If the James Webb Telescope detects this signal from an exoplanet, Abbot noted, "it's almost definitely from clouds, and it's a confirmation that you do have surface liquid water."

Source: http://feeds.sciencedaily.com/~r/sciencedaily/~3/g9tQ0dZnz1k/130701135131.htm

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NBA Free Agency: Analyzing Five Options for Dwight Howard

Dwight Howard will be the center of attention when NBA free agency begins on July 1st (Credit: Ronald Martinez/Getty Images).

Dwight Howard will be the center of attention when NBA free agency begins on July 1st (Credit: Ronald Martinez/Getty Images).

NBA Free Agency will begin at 12:01am Eastern Time on July 1st. The most sought after player in this year?s free agent class will be Lakers center Dwight Howard who will meet with five teams this week? in Los Angeles to decide his future. Here is a breakdown of each of those teams chances in the D12 sweepstakes.

Atlanta Hawks

There has been a lot of speculation for the last several months about Dwight Howard and Chris Paul coming to Atlanta to form a big three with Al Horford. Those chances are all but gone now that CP3?s representatives are telling other teams that he is a lock to resign with the Los Angeles Clippers. Howard will still meet with Danny Ferry and Hawks management this week in Los Angeles, but its hard to imagine him returning to his hometown now that Paul is staying on the West Coast. The Hawks Plan B could include resigning Josh Smith and pursuing Utah Jazz center Al Jefferson.

Dallas Mavericks

Mark Cuban will have the chance for a second straight summer to bring a superstar to the Metroplex. He wasn?t able to convince Deron Williams to return to his hometown a year ago, but he will be in Los Angeles this week with Dirk Nowitzki making a pitch to Dwight Howard. He and Nowitzki (who just turned 35) would form arguably the best center/power forward duo in the NBA. If the Mavericks are able to get Howard, the biggest question remaining is who else would be signed (for likely league minimum deals) to join the core of an aging team. Dirk Nowitzki, Shawn Marion, and Vince Carter would have been an upcoming trio to team up with in 2003, not so much in 2013.

Golden State Warriors

The Warriors were the breakout team of this year?s NBA season. Stephen Curry reached superstar status and helped Golden State win their first playoff series in six years. Curry along with Klay Thompson and Harrison Barnes is part of one of the league?s upcoming teams, however the Warriors are a long shot to sign Dwight Howard this summer, with the team well over the salary cap. Any chance that they have to get him would have to be through a sign and trade agreement, something the Lakers would be hesitant about doing with a team in their own division. Golden State may be entering the Dwight Howard sweepstakes a year too early with the combined $34 million+ salaries of Andrew Bogut, Richard Jefferson, and Andris Biedrins not coming off the books until next summer. The Warriors will be in a better position to sign a top free agent next summer.

Houston Rockets

The Rockets were unsuccessful in their attempts to trade for Dwight Howard last year, but are now in a much better position to get him this summer. Sometimes one year makes all the difference. 12 months ago, the Rockets were in the midst of a three season playoff drought and were a young team that lacked a superstar presence. 12 months later, the acquisition of James Harden has transformed the Association?s youngest team in to quite an intriguing option for the Howard to consider. Unlike the Mavericks and Hawks, the Rockets would not have to fill out their roster with ancillary players if they can get Howard. James Harden, Chandler Parsons, Omer Asik, and Jeremy Lin is a better group of core players that what he would be joining in Dallas or Atlanta. The Rockets will also be the first team to meet with him once free agency begins.

Los Angeles Lakers

The 2012-13 Los Angeles Lakers looked like a team for the ages and a championship contender, after pulling off deals for Dwight Howard and Steve Nash last summer. This past season was a complete bust for a team with such expectations beginning when Mike Brown got fired after five games, continuing with Kobe Bryant?s season ending injury, and concluding with getting swept by the San Antonio Spurs in the first round of the NBA Playoffs. While there is a lot of speculation and rumors that Dwight Howard will sign with one of the teams in Texas, its hard to completely rule out the possibility of him staying with Los Angeles. The Lakers can offer him a guaranteed $118 million contract for five years, while the other teams can offer him up to $88 million over four years. That alone is 30 million reasons why he could decide to play with Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol again.

Source: http://atlanta.cbslocal.com/2013/06/30/nba-free-agency-analyzing-five-options-for-dwight-howard/

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Civil War general blindsided at pivotal Gettysburg battle

By Eric M. Johnson

(Reuters) - Confederate General Robert E. Lee was "virtually blind" to the superior positions held by Union troops hidden by rolling hills and valleys, which contributed to his downfall at the pivotal battle of Gettysburg in the American Civil War, researchers said on Friday.

Lee's ill-fated combat decisions and ultimate defeat likely stemmed from bad reconnaissance reports, his forces spread too thinly across 7 miles, and an inability to see the more compact and elevated Union forces, according to geographers and cartographers who synthesized old maps, text and data into a digital model of the three-day Pennsylvania battle in 1863.

"We know that Confederate General Robert E. Lee was virtually blind at Gettysburg," Anne Kelly Knowles, a geography professor at Middlebury College, wrote in the article accompanying the interactive map on smithsonianmag.com.

"Altogether, our mapping reveals that Lee never had a clear view of enemy forces ... In addition, Lee did not grasp - or acknowledge - just how advantageous the Union's position was," Knowles wrote.

This week marks the 150th anniversary of Gettysburg, which took place over July 1-3 and claimed roughly 50,000 soldiers from the North and South.

It is regarded a crucial turning point in the bloodiest war in U.S. history that preserved the United States as a single country and led to the abolition of slavery. Roughly 620,000 Americans died.

On July 2, 1863, the second day of battle, Lee decided to launch an attack against a vulnerable patch of Yankee resistance around a pair of hills to the South - called the Round Tops.

But he failed to see thousands of Union troops that had gathered during the night and lurked in the vicinity. Union General Governor K. Warren spotted the advance and summoned reinforcements.

"Realizing the limits of what Lee could see makes his decisions appear even bolder, and more likely to fail, than we knew," she wrote.

The Confederate defeat at Vicksburg, Mississippi, came a day after Gettysburg. Lee ultimately surrendered in Virginia in 1865.

(Reporting by Eric M. Johnson in Seattle; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)

Source: http://news.yahoo.com/u-civil-war-general-blindsided-pivotal-gettysburg-battle-100634276.html

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শনিবার, ২৯ জুন, ২০১৩

EPA Defends Chemical Testing of Low-Dose Hormone Effects

The agency is responding to a report written by 12 scientists who criticized the government?s decades-old strategy for testing the safety of many chemicals found in the environment and consumer products

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Atrazine, a pesticide used mostly on corn, has been linked to low-dose hormone changes in animals. Image: Flickr/Victor Bayon

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The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has concluded that current testing of hormone-altering chemicals is adequate for detecting low-dose effects that may jeopardize health.

This comes in response to a report written last year by 12 scientists who criticized the government?s decades old-strategy for testing the safety of many chemicals found in the environment and in consumer products.

The scientists specifically focused on a phenomenon called ?nonmonotonic dose response,? which means that hormone-like chemicals often do not act in a typical way; they can have health effects at low doses but no effects or different effects at high doses. The EPA frequently evaluates the risks of chemicals with tests that expose lab animals to high doses, then extrapolating to lower doses that people and wildlife encounter.?

Dozens of substances that mimic or block estrogen, testosterone or thyroid hormones are found in the environment, food, pesticides and consumer products.
The idea that these chemicals harm people at tiny doses remains controversial.

The EPA?s draft ?State of the Science? report, completed last week, found that such low-dose responses ?do occur in biological systems but are generally not common.?

?There currently is no reproducible evidence? that the low-dose effects seen in lab tests ?are predictive of adverse outcomes that may be seen in humans or wildlife populations for estrogen, androgen or thyroid endpoints,? the agency report said.
?Therefore, current testing strategies are unlikely to mischaracterize...a chemical that has the potential for adverse perturbations of the estrogen, androgen or thyroid pathways.?

The report was written by EPA officials with input from a team of scientists and managers from the Food and Drug Administration, the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and the National Institute of Child Health and Development that reviewed the science on endocrine-disrupting chemicals. It was signed by Robert Kavlock, the EPA?s Deputy Assistant Administrator for Science.

The federal team was commissioned last June in response to the scientists? report published a few months earlier by lead author Laura Vandenberg, a Tufts University researcher, and colleagues. Pete Myers, founder of Environmental Health News and chief scientist at Environmental Health Sciences, was the senior author of that report.

The EPA?s draft report will be peer-reviewed by a panel of the National Academies of Sciences.

The American Chemistry Council, which represents chemical companies, praised the EPA?s conclusion.

The EPA ?affirms what mainstream scientists have expressed for years: the purported scientific evidence for non-monotonic low dose exposures leading to endocrine disruption and adverse effects is, at best, very weak,? the industry group said in a prepared statement.

Vandenberg said although the debate over how to assess the risks of these chemicals remains, the EPA?s acknowledgement that nonmonotonic dose responses exist is a step forward, culminating years of science.

But she added that the EPA made some ?odd, and possibly political decisions? in the new report.

The EPA?s belief that high dose testing can predict safety at low doses ?flies in the face of our knowledge of how hormones work,? Vandenberg told EHN in an email. ?They [endocrine disrupting chemicals] are overtly toxic at high doses but act like hormones, with completely different actions, at low doses.?

In the 2012 report, Vandenberg and colleagues pointed to chemicals such as bisphenol A (BPA) ? which is found in polycarbonate plastic and some canned foods and paper receipts ? and atrazine, a pesticide used mostly on corn, as examples of chemicals that are inadequately tested to protect human health.

Source: http://rss.sciam.com/~r/sciam/biology/~3/CxUz9cLZhro/article.cfm

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