Solar System Reversals

first_imgThe planets keep going around, but theories about them often stop and go backward or sideways. When nothing else works, send in the impactors!How are planets formed?  Elizabeth Howell starts off this entry with a review in Universe Today about the leading theory, the “protoplanet hypothesis.” The general picture is made to look straightforward, “as the theory goes,” except for all the exceptions. It hardly seems scientific, though, to throw in “Then something happened.” Once upon a time, there was this gas cloud:Then something happened that triggered a pressure change in the center of the cloud, scientists say. Perhaps it was a supernova exploding nearby, or a passing star changing the gravity. Whatever the change, however, the cloud collapsed and created a disc of material, according to NASA.“Whatever.” It must be so if NASA says so. Howell presents the basic bottom-up theory, but understands a fundamental challenge for scientists:One major challenge to this theory, of course, is no one (that we know of!) was recording the early history of the Solar System. That’s because the Earth wasn’t even formed yet, so it was impossible for any life — let alone intelligent life — to keep track of what was happening to the planets around us.She obviously has no use for the Genesis record, even though it meets the requirements of an intelligent observer who kept track of what was happening.  Deprived of an Eyewitness account, what’s a scientist, taught to base theories on observation, supposed to do?  The solution: models.That said, there still are some complications. We can’t use modelling yet to exactly predict how the planets of the Solar System ended up where they were. Also, in fine detail our Solar System is kind of a messy place, with phenomena such as asteroids with moons.And we need to have a better understanding of external factors that could affect planet formation, such as supernovae (explosions of old, massive stars.) But the protoplanet hypothesis is the best we’ve got — at least for now.It meets the requirements of the “Best-in-field fallacy,” in other words. Who decided it was “best”? She didn’t say. God didn’t get to vote in that peer group.Mercury volcanism:  A paper in Icarus puzzles over the volcanic plains in the Caloris Basin. There are no ghost craters above 10 km in diameter, leading them to believe the volcanism that covered the basin floors up to 3.5 km deep must have happened quickly after the impact that formed the basin; “Most Caloris interior plains were emplaced within a geologically short time period,” they say. If you want to know what it would be like to live on Mercury, see this article.Venus: Back to square one:  A major puzzle following the radar mapping of Venus by Magellan in the 1990s was finding that all the large craters appeared to be the same age. This led to a theory of a global resurfacing event that obliterated evidence of 90% of the planet’s presumed history. Later theories questioned that conclusion, saying the evidence supported equilibrium resurfacing over vast ages. A new study of the data published on Icarus reverts back to the catastrophic resurfacing theory. Three planetologists concluded, “These findings are readily and consistently explained by global resurfacing scenarios and are difficult to reconcile with equilibrium resurfacing scenarios.” There’s been global catastrophism on the planet next door.Moon service: Earth’s moon may not be vital for habitability on Earth, Astrobiology Magazine now claims. That idea, however, is bound to be disputed by other models, if history is any guide. The new opinion doesn’t address the usefulness of total solar eclipses, though; and the article admits that some life forms that use lunar cycles would be adversely affected. Tides and seasons would change, possibly affecting the liveable area for complex life. We would also miss its romantic presence; “After all, would Beethoven have written the Moonlight Sonata without it?”Mars impact: Howell’s article was decorated with artwork of a Mars-sized object crashing into early Earth to form the Moon. An article on Science Daily conjures up a moon-sized object crashing into Mars to create the puzzling “Mars dichotomy”—a big difference in terrain between the Martian northern and southern hemispheres.  The new theory is similar to the old theory, except that the poles have been reversed: the impactor hit the south pole, not the north pole. Arguments are still going on over that. One problem of invoking major impacts is that it makes the picture bleak for wet-Marsers and Mars-lifers. “Since the beginning of time, this planet was characterised by intense heat and volcanic activity, which would have evaporated any possible water and made the emergence of life highly unlikely,” one researcher remarked.Naked Titan: How long could Saturn’s large moon Titan go naked outside? A press release from JPL has the headline, “Cassini Catches Titan Naked in the Solar Wind.” The spacecraft caught the moon outside the planet’s protective magnetosphere, exposed to the gas-stripping rays of the sun. “This left the moon exposed to, and unprotected from, the raging stream of energetic solar particles,” the article says, adding, “Titan spends about 95 percent of the time within Saturn’s magnetosphere.” Assuming a 4.5 billion year age, the remaining 5% of the time when Titan goes streaking outside would amount to 250 million years of sunburn. This presumably would strip away the atmosphere over time. “After more than a hundred flybys, we have finally encountered Titan out in the solar wind, which will allow us to better understand how such moons maintain or lose their atmospheres,” the magnetometer lead said, without connecting the dots of how long Titan’s atmosphere could last in the nude.Uranus weather:  Major storms have been seen racing across Uranus lately, and nobody knows why. That’s the gist of a piece on New Scientist. “Their cause  is a mystery,” the article says. Let’s call in the experts. What do you think, Dr. Imke de Pater of UC Berkeley? What’s causing these big storms? “We have no idea. It’s very unexpected.” He posits that maybe there is a vortex deep in the planet’s atmosphere. The new-agers in Sedona, Arizona might perk up at that suggestion. The research paper in Icarus states that eight large storms were observed “in contrast to expectations…In spite of an expected decline in convective activity following the 2007 equinox of Uranus,” things heated up.Dawn of a new asteroid visit: After a year-and-a-half circling Vesta, the Dawn Spacecraft is closing in on Ceres, the largest of the asteroids in the asteroid belt. Pictures are getting more detailed every day as the craft prepares for its March 6 orbit insertion. Looking back on the discoveries at Vesta, a JPL press release puzzles over indirect evidence of water flows sometime in the asteroid’s past. Nobody told Vesta it was supposed to sing “How dry I am.”“Nobody expected to find evidence of water on Vesta. The surface is very cold and there is no atmosphere, so any water on the surface evaporates,” said Jennifer Scully, postgraduate researcher at the University of California, Los Angeles. “However, Vesta is proving to be a very interesting and complex planetary body.“The study has broad implications for planetary science.“These results, and many others from the Dawn mission, show that Vesta is home to many processes that were previously thought to be exclusive to planets,” said UCLA’s Christopher Russell, principal investigator for the Dawn mission. “We look forward to uncovering even more insights and mysteries when Dawn studies Ceres.“Asteroids do the twist: A press release from MIT puts a “twist on asteroid origins.” For a long time, theorists imagined meteors as building blocks of planets. Not so, says the new theory: they are fragments of collisions—byproducts of planetary origins, not building blocks. Here’s what happened to the mysterious chondrules (molten material long puzzling to planetologists), according to the new twist:The team found that bodies as large as the moon likely existed well before chondrules came on the scene. In fact, the researchers found that chondrules were most likely created by the collision of such moon-sized planetary embryos: These bodies smashed together with such violent force that they melted a fraction of their material, and shot a molten plume out into the solar nebula. Residual droplets would eventually cool to form chondrules, which in turn attached to larger bodies — some of which would eventually impact Earth, to be preserved as meteorites.The only part of that scenario actually observed is the meteorites on the ground.  The new theory lends itself more to the silver screen at least: “it tells us the early solar system was more violent than we expected,” one expert said.  For details of the new twist theory, see Nature: “An impact origin for chondrules implies that meteorites are a byproduct of planet formation rather than leftover building material.”Asteroid moon: Some asteroids wander into our neck of the solar system. The big one that flew by on Jan. 26 surprised observers by sporting a moon. How such a small body with low gravity could hold onto a moon for millions or billions of years was not explained by Astrobiology Magazine. Nor by the BBC News. Nor by JPL. The asteroid was too far away to be a threat, but scientists still believe a big one caused extinction of the dinosaurs. Now, though, planetary scientists at the University of Exeter have cast doubt that the extinction was caused by a global firestorm after the impact. They tested this by burning dry plant material in a basket in the lab. Pay no attention to the major difference in order of magnitude; this is science.Really old planets:  If 4.5 billion years sounds old for our solar system, look at what scientists are saying about planets detected around star Kepler 444, a smaller star than our sun about 117 light-years away. “The Old Ones were already ancient when the Earth was born,” Lisa Grossman says in New Scientist.  “Five small planets orbit an 11.2 billion-year-old star, making them about 80 per cent as old as the universe itself. That means our galaxy started building rocky planets earlier than we thought.” Mother Universe is precocious: “These planets mean it only took the universe a couple billion years to figure out how to build rocky planets, and they’ve been around for a really long time.”Coming up:  After the success of Rosetta/Philae at Comet 67P (1/26/15), prepare for two more big “space firsts” that will make 2014-2015 a year to remember. On March 6, Dawn reaches asteroid Ceres and goes into orbit; watch JPL’s Dawn website for news. On July 14, New Horizons makes its historic flyby of the dwarf planet Pluto (to many, it’s the 9th “planet”). Feb. 4 was discoverer Clyde Tombaugh’s birthday (1906-1997). Already, fuzzy images of Pluto and its largest moon Charon are coming in (Universe Today). Back at Comet 67P, scientists are hoping that Philae will wake up as the sunlight increases. In the tradition of all space encounters, expect the unexpected!Given the awful record of explaining our solar system by materialist “experts,” who are continually baffled by everything they see, whose eyes are distracted by hydrobioscopy, and whose main recourse is to invoke asteroid impacts for whatever they don’t understand, one wonders how much better off planetary science would have been if they had started with Genesis. A Genesis principle that could have been useful is that, since we are told by Isaiah that God made the Earth to be inhabited (Isaiah 45:18), He would have shown the degrees of conditions that made everything else uninhabitable so that we could appreciate His careful design of the Earth. Without anything to compare it with, we might think Earth was just ordinary. Another working principle that is usually fruitful in all of science is the law of entropy (second law of thermodynamics). Planets don’t build up; they break up. With those two principles, we could envision a very productive science of exploration of everything in the solar system. Example: Venus. Finding evidence of a global catastrophe there would reinforce the evidence for a global catastrophe here. And instead of asking “Could there have ever been life there?” scientists would rejoice and say, “Thank God we are so blessed with a temperate climate, atmosphere, magnetic field and so many other things on God’s green Earth – how different from Venus!” (Visited 31 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterest分享0last_img read more

Joburg’s inner city property boom

first_img22 November 2004South Africa’s inner city residential market is being driven by “staggering demand” and “attractively low property prices”, according to a recent survey.And Johannesburg’s property sales, although off a low base, have been rising steadily, according to the Trafalgar Inner City Report 2004, released in October.Conducted by Trafalgar Property and Financial Services, a company that manages some 2 500 units in the city, the report aims to provide useful and practical information for investors, tackling some of the risks they might run into in these markets.“Johannesburg, perhaps more than other cities, is where an inner city turnaround has been most evident,” the report says. “Strong and consistent demand for residential space combined with a stock of properties that are cheap to purchase, offering tempting potential for capital growth, are a potent combination for investors.”The report was compiled from three sources: questionnaires from 250 tenants resident in buildings managed by Trafalgar, a forum panel discussion attended by industry specialists, and data from the city’s Deeds Office.Joburg’s residential heartJohannesburg’s residential heart is referred to as Zone 4, and consists of eight suburbs: Hillbrow, Berea, Yeoville, Lorentzville, Troyeville, Judith’s Paarl, Bertrams and Doornfontein. Around 208 000 people reside in this area, and residential properties range from freehold, to medium density to large blocks of flats.The report compares Johannesburg’s Zone 4 area to Durban’s Albert Park suburb and the suburb of Sunnyside in Pretoria, both of which are similar to Joburg’s inner city area in that they are high-rise residential areas with a similar socio-economic profile, but with smaller populations.Rentals in Joburg have experienced a 33 percent growth, slightly below Sunnyside’s 39 percent, but considerably below Durban’s 114 percent growth.Property prices in central Johannesburg have risen from an average of R28 470 in 2000 to an average of R42 339 in 2004, while 663 sectional title units have been sold in the inner city since 2000. This represents an average sale price of R417/square metre over the past five years. Sales in Durban were 2 556 units over the same period, while 3 273 units were sold in Pretoria.Andrew Schaefer, managing director of Trafalgar, says the possible reason why Joburg has lagged behind the other cities is that its residential areas “degenerated to a greater extent than the other cities,” coupled with a more virulent problem of slumlords and “flat hijackers”.The recovery therefore, is much slower, but the demand for residential space is equal to the demand in other cities.Problems“Flat hijackers” are people who move into a flat and progressively invite in more tenants, thus severely overloading the amenities of the flat. Slumlords encourage this overloading because they charge per head instead of per flat, often pocketing rent meant for municipal rates.The residential property market has been bedevilled in the last decade by slumlords, building hijackers and delays with clearance certificates (required by law before the owner can sell a property).The condition of some of the units has deteriorated: around 25 percent of Joburg’s residential buildings have been described as being in an “extremely poor”, “very poor” or “poor” state of repair.“The number of bad buildings in the inner city has almost doubled since 1999, from 120 to the current count of 235”, the report states. A “bad building” is one that has deteriorated to such an extent that the market value is below the outstanding debt owed.This has led to a drop in rates income in Zone 4 areas – between 2000 and 2004 there was a drop of 25 percent. Doornfontein in particular was hard hit, experiencing a 61 percent decrease.SolutionsThese restraints aside, the report says investors have begun to find ways around the problems, where “anecdotal evidence suggests that successful landlords can achieve yields on high-density residential blocks in Hillbrow or Berea as high as 30 to 35 percent”.While very few individual buyers can access finance, large investors have moved in and are buying blocks in these two suburbs, encouraged by the high demand for rental space. Trafalgar is now signing 110 leases a month, compared to around 80 leases a month a year ago, with rentals averaging between R1 200 to R2 500 a month.To avoid the persistent problem of defaulting tenants, the report notes “a move to stricter debt control measures, backed up by strong, day-to-day operational management”. This means that month-end rents are strictly monitored, access to the building is also strictly controlled and debt collection is swift.“Defaulting tenants can expect little mercy, and property managers don’t hesitate to start the eviction process where necessary”, the report says.Northdene: a success storyThe report cites Northdene, a complex of 26 sectional title units in Princess Place in lower Parktown, as an example of a residential block that Trafalgar has successfully turned around.When Trafalgar took over Northdene, there was no body corporate and arrears stood at R300 000. An audit was done and the complex’s financial statements were brought up to date. An annual general meeting was called and a residents’ committee was established.“Slowly but surely, residents started to pay their levies and catch up on back payments”, the report states.In exchange, the property manager fixed the electronic gates, provided secure lock-up parking, and got tough with non-paying residents. By the end of June 2004, arrears had dropped to R28 000. As a reward, Trafalgar allowed residents to convert the basement flat into a prayer room.As a result, the complex has started to turn around its sale prices – in 2002 a two-bedroomed unit sold for R50 000, while in October 2004 a three-bedroomed unit sold for R450 000.Urban development zonesThe 2002 announcement by Finance Minister Trevor Manuel of urban development zones (UDZs) as an inner city development incentive has become a reality in Joburg. Cape Town has also been granted permission to declare such zonesDesignated zones will qualify for an accelerated depreciation allowance. This means developers obtain a 20 percent depreciation on the asset over a five-year period on refurbished properties, and a new development qualifies for a 17-year incentive, with 20 percent in the first year and five percent each year thereafter.The city estimates that if developers of existing projects were to use the incentives for the next five years, they would be worth R32.4-million.The typical inner city tenantBased on their questionnaires, Trafalgar has ascertained that the typical inner city tenant is young, black, male and single, has been living in the inner city for around 18 months, and would ultimately like to move to Sandton, where they’re likely to rent.Further findings reveal that:82% feel that the inner city is a safe place to live.96% believe that their buildings are safe.17% are university educated.61% use shops, 26% use schools, and 13% use entertainment facilities in the inner city.Most tenants found their accommodation through newspaper ads or via word of mouth.75% have no private transport.23% of households earn between R5 000 and R10 000 a month and 47% earn less than R3 000.The majority prefer to pay their rent through bank deposits.The report says these figures are significant for investors, as they highlight the requirements of potential tenants – their need for affordability, the attraction of nearby shops, and the need for access to public transport to get to work.Tenants respond positivelyOne of the themes to emerge from the forum panel discussion, attended by five city heads, Brian Miller of the Property Owners and Managers Association (POMA), Trafalgar CEO Neville Schaefer, and Financial Mail property editor Ian Fife, was that tenants are responding positively to “clear symbols of governance, because they represent stability”.Says Fife: “I think the main change in the inner city is that tenants are heartily tired of badly managed, insecure or ill-kept buildings. There’s a need for a lot of education in the sectional title sector, but tenants are banding together more and more to pull the complexes together.”He said that by empowering tenants with information regarding their rights, flat hijackers would be less inclined to get access to buildings.The issue of enforcement of by-laws – raised by participants – is still a sensitive one, says Graham Reid, head of the Johannesburg Development Agency.“By-law enforcement requires a change of mindset, and security works best where the public and private sectors co-operate”, Reid says. “Johannesburg still has quite fragmented enforcement agencies which need to be consolidated.”Li Pernigger, programme manager 2030 in the city’s economic development unit, replied: “There are strategic plans in place but the operational plans have not always been pulled together. It’s often a question of whether or not there’s a champion to drive the process.”Miller indicated that POMA was busy setting up five residential improvement districts, an initiative which sees suburbs divided into blocks, where problems like cleaning, security and gardening maintenance are identified.The building owners then undertake to install CCTV, patrols and cleaning agents to uplift the block, before moving on to the adjacent block. The owners are aware that these improvements add value to their investments.The first district in the process of being set up is in Berea, where the owners have agreed to CCTV and street guards, who will also help clean the area. Final agreements with the owners will see the guards and cameras in place around March 2005.Schaefer/Fife modelThis model of turning around a badly degenerated building was developed by Neville Schaefer and Fife, an inner city investor. The model goes beyond simple debt collecting and saving “bad buildings” from total deterioration.“Our aim is to rebuild the value that has been destroyed”, says Schaefer. “Persuading owners that they have an asset worth defending and nurturing is, to us, the key to stability in inner city sectional title.”After stabilising a building, Schaefer and Fife work with the owners and occupants to come up with a plan to make it work. This involves identifying the municipal debt and arranging with individual owners or tenants to pay and catch up arrears, calculating a levy to maintain the building and getting residents’ buy-in, and upgrading the building by making it more secure, undertaking repairs and improving the parking situation.The model has been applied successfully in Pretoria and Johannesburg.The crucial element, according to Trafalgar MD Andrew Schaefer, is the involvement of the city council in each city. After all, it is the councils who lose out on unpaid rates when a building runs into the ground.But, says Schaefer, they have realised this, and “they are coming to the party”, in support of the dire need to turn the situation around.Source: City of Johannesburglast_img read more

Arunachal safe as China river barrier breaches again

first_imgThe Disaster Management Department in Arunachal Pradesh on Wednesday marked the central part of the State safe after water from Tibet’s Yarlung Tsangpo river over-topped a landslide-induced barrier in the morning and started flowing downstream.Landslide in MilinA landslide in the Milin section of the river had created a 1.7 km barrier at 11 a.m. on October 29, temporarily blocking the flow of water towards Arunachal Pradesh. A landslide of bigger intensity in the same section on October 17 had created a 3.5 km barrier.The Yarlung Tsangpo becomes the Siang after entering India and flows through three districts of Arunachal Pradesh — Upper Siang, Siang and East Siang — before meeting two other rivers to form the Brahmaputra in Assam downstream.Water over-topping“We received information from China via the Central Water Commission that the accumulated water began over-topping the Milin section barrier at 9.30 a.m. The water reached Tuting in Upper Siang at 5.55 p.m. and is likely to reach Pasighat (on Arunachal Pradesh-Assam border) at 3 a.m. on Thursday,” said Bidol Tayeng, Arunachal Pradesh Disaster Management Department secretary.Second breach Mr. Tayeng said that the force and volume of the water were less than that on October 19 when the barrier formed on Yarlung Tsangpo 13 days ago had breached.However, the heads of the districts through which the Siang river meanders have been asked to ensure people do not venture out to the river for any purpose until the flow of water becomes normal.last_img read more

Leggie Chawla claims four as India win by 38 runs

first_imgPiyush Chawla scalped four as India beat Australia by 38 runs in their World Cup warm-up tie at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bangalore on Sunday.A low scoring match saw Australia batsmen getting out for a meager 176 in the 37th over in reply to India’s 214 all out.India leggie Piyush Chawla proved to the wrecker-in-chief scalping four wickets on the day.But that was post two good partnerships by the Aussies batsmen. First openers Shane Watson and Tim Paine forged a 51-run first wicket partnership and later skipper Ricky Ponting got busy with a 67-run second wicket partnership with Paine.The partnership was finally broken by Yuvraj Singh when Paine holed out to long-on where Munaf Patel took a fine catch. He fell for 37 as Australia were 118/2. But after his wicket, India got rid of another batsman in a jiffy with Piyush Chawla accounting for Michael Clarke on a duck. Australia were 120/3 at the stage.But Chawla hadn’t finished yet. He struck back to pack off Cameron White and David Hussey on consecutive balls to bring India back in the game. From 120-3 the Aussies were now on 138-5.But, Chawla was still hungry. Maybe he wanted to show his critics what devastation his bowling can do on Indian tracks. Soon he accounted to Callum Ferguson on 8 to push Aussies to the wall. The Australians were 148-6 at the stage.Piyush Chawla took four wickets on the day. APHowever, Aussie skipper Ricky Ponting was still at the crease and in such a scenario India were still far for a win. But, Harbhajan Singh made sure that he didn’t stay for too long and accounted for his wicket even as the Aussies score read 166-7. Ponting attempted a slog sweep but failed to connect and India skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni stumped him on 57.The rest was easy for the India bowlers as they quickly pressed for a win and that’s what they earned – winning the match by 38 runs in the 38th over.advertisementIndia inningsEarlier, India put on 214 with opener Virender Sehwag top scoring with 54 runs and Yusuf Pathan scored a quick-fire 32 even as the rest of the regular batsmen failed to make a mark.Early in the innings Dough Bollinger got the better of opener Gautam Gambhir. A good length ball pitched on the off got a thick outside edge of the India opener’s bat and the Cameron White did the rest in the second slip. He fell for 6 even as India slumped to 12-1.Just when Virender Sehwag and Virat Kohli were looking set for a big partnership, John Hastings struck and sent back Kohli on 21. A good length outside off takes the edge off Kohli’s bat and David Hussey at backward point takes an easy. India were 54-2 at the stage.Soon Yuvraj Siingh too departed. A bouncer from Mitchell Johnson did the trick. Yuvraj failed to decide when and how to play the ball even as a weak upper edge carried away towards Tim Paine. He fell for 1 as India were 63/3.India skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni failed to shed his poor form and got out on 21 with Hastings accounting for his wicket as the hosts fell to 101-4.Virender Sehwag was the latest to fall. The opener had batted with gusto even as the rest of the batsmen made quick visits. He tried to cut Jason Krejza’s ball failed to connect and ended up edging into his own stumps. He scored 54 as India score read 113-5.Suresh Raina too could not stay at the crease for long and fell to Brett Lee’s pace. An away moving ball took the edge of Raina’s bat and wicketkeeper Tim Paine performed the final honours behind the stumps. He managed to score 12 even as India slumped to 132/6.Finally, it was left to Yusuf Pathan to push the scoring rate up with his batting blitzkrieg. He scored a fine 32 off 39 balls decorating his innings with two massive sixers. But post his dismissal it was all over for India as the Aussies needed just one wicket to end India’s innings and they did that by scalping Ashish Nehra on 19. India were all out for 214 in 44.3 overs.Surprisingly, India did not play Sachin Tendulkar in the game. Maybe the team management wanted him to get adequate rest ahead of the big tournament considering that he was recently injured during the India tour of South Africa and had to be flow back during the ODI series. Zaheer Khan too was rested in this warm-up match.advertisementlast_img read more