Making Unique Observations in a Very Cluttered World

Thursday, 14 February 2013

NASA to Chronicle Close Earth Flyby of Asteroid -

NASA to Chronicle Close Earth Flyby of Asteroid - 

Diagram depicting the passage of asteroid 2012 DA14
NASA Television will provide commentary starting at 11 a.m. PST (2 p.m. EST) on Friday, Feb. 15, during the close, but safe, flyby of a small near-Earth asteroid named 2012 DA14. NASA places a high priority on tracking asteroids and protecting our home planet from them. This flyby will provide a unique opportunity for researchers to study a near-Earth object up close.

The half-hour broadcast from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., will incorporate real-time animation to show the location of the asteroid in relation to Earth, along with live or near real-time views of the asteroid from observatories in Australia, weather permitting.

At the time of its closest approach to Earth at approximately 11:25 a.m. PST (2:25 p.m. EST / 19:25 UTC), the asteroid will be about 17,150 miles (27,600 kilometers) above Earth's surface.

The commentary will be available via NASA TV and streamed live online at: http://www.nasa.gov/ntv and http://www.ustream.tv/nasajpl2

In addition to the commentary, near real-time imagery of the asteroid's flyby before and after closest approach, made available to NASA by astronomers in Australia and Europe, weather permitting, will be streamed beginning at about 9 a.m. PST (noon EST) and continuing through the afternoon at the following website: http://www.ustream.tv/nasajpl2

A Ustream feed of the flyby from a telescope at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., will be streamed for three hours starting at 6 p.m. PST (8 p.m. CST / 9 p.m. EST). To view the feed and ask researchers questions about the flyby via Twitter, visit: http://www.ustream.tv/channel/nasa-msfc

The NASA Near Earth Objects (NEO) Program at the agency's headquarters in Washington manages and funds the search, study and monitoring of NEOs, or asteroids and comets, whose orbits periodically bring them close to the Earth. NASA's study of NEOs provides important clues to understanding the origin of our solar system. The objects also are a repository of natural resources and could become waystations for future exploration. In collaboration with other external organizations, one of the program's key goals is to search and hopefully mitigate potential NEO impacts on Earth. JPL conducts the NEO program's technical and scientific activities.

For more information, including graphics and animations showing the flyby of 2012 DA14, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/asteroidflyby

30 Major U.S. Companies Spent More on Lobbying than Taxes -

30 Major U.S. Companies Spent More on Lobbying than Taxes - 

Thirty large American corporations spent more money on lobbying than they paid in federal taxes from 2008 to 2010, according to a report from the nonpartisan reform group Public Campaign.

All of the companies were profitable at the time. In spite of this, and the massive federal budget deficit, 29 out of the 30 companies featured in the study managed through various legal tax-dodging measures to pay no federal income taxes at all from 2008 through 2010. The lone exception, FedEx (FDX), paid a three-year tax rate of 1%, nowhere near the 35% called for by the federal tax code.

In fact, the report explains, the 29 companies that paid no tax actually received tax rebates over those three years, "ranging from $4 million for Corning (GLW) to nearly $5 billion for General Electric (GE)." The total value of the rebates received was nearly $11 billion; combined profits during the same period were $164 billion.

The amounts spent on lobbying ranged from $710,000 by Intergrys Energy Group to $84 million by General Electric. Others that spent heavily on lobbyists were PG&E (PCG), Verizon (VZ), Boeing (BA) and FedEx. It all added up to a total of almost half a billion dollars -- $476 million -- over three years. Or, as the report notes, "in other words, roughly $400,000 each day, including weekends." The same firms spent an additional $22 million on donations to federal campaigns. Logically enough, the two biggest contributors were defense contractors: Honeywell International (more than $5 million) and Boeing ($3.85 million). General Electric wasn't far behind ($3.64 million).

For a complete list of the companies surveyed, as well as information on executive compensation, read the full report.



Facebook App "KillSwitch" Eliminates All Traces Of Your Ex - launches -- ironically enough -- on Valentine's Day -

Facebook App "KillSwitch" Eliminates All Traces Of Your Ex - launches -- ironically enough -- on Valentine's Day - 

Want to get rid of every last trace of your ex on your Facebook page?

There's now a quick and painless way to do it. KillSwitch, a new app that launches -- ironically enough -- on Valentine's Day, takes care of everything for you, removing all photos, status updates and wall posts concerning your ex when you just can't bring yourself to do it.

But KillSwitch is hardly the first app to make breakups a little less complicated. The recently launched Should I Break Up With My Boyfriend app tracks your feelings over the course of two weeks, then presents you with a graph quantifying what you should do, along with some personalized advice.

And for those on the prowl post-split, the Breakup Notifier app for Facebook conveniently (or creepily?) sends an email when someone you're interested in changes their relationship status.

Watch the video above for more on KillSwitch, then click through the slideshow below for five apps that streamline the divorce process for splitting couples.


Cancer-Detecting Bra May Be Game-Changer For Women - 'First Warning System' - and Proven To Work -

Cancer-Detecting Bra May Be Game-Changer For Women - 'First Warning System' - and Proven To Work -
The "First Warning System" cancer-detecting bra. (Photo: CBS 2)

A new screening device is about to hit the market, and it may be able to detect breast cancer earlier and more easily.

As CBS 2’s Kristine Johnson reported Wednesday, it is a cancer-detecting bra, and new technology that can help save women’s lives.

Twenty years ago, Nedra Lindsay agreed to be part of a medical trial.

“They needed us to wear this up-and-coming device that was going to be used to detect breast cancer,” Lindsay said.

She was 25 at the time, and didn’t think much about the gadget made up of sensors and a small data pack that would monitor some internal functions.

“I never thought it would be any use to me because I was so young,” she said.

But Lindsay said her participation in that trial saved her life.

“The device showed proof positive that I had breast cancer,” she said.

Lindsay ultimately had a mastectomy and, today, she is cancer free.

“What we would like to see is this device used as part of a woman’s annual health care screening starting at the age of 18,” said developer Matthew Bernardis.

The device has been 20 years in the making. Today, the wires and data pack have evolved into a model of a cancer-detecting bra called the First Warning System.

Developer Bernardis said all women have to do is wear it for at least 12 hours.

“If we could see the actual change in cellular structure or tissue over a 24-hour period, we would have much better understanding of what was happening in a disease than in a healthy cell,” Bernardis said.

Right now, doctors depend on the still images from mammograms — the most vital screening tool for breast cancer.

But for women under 40, who have not yet had a mammogram, a tiny cancerous mass would likely not be detected until their first screening. Developers said the cancer bra could pick up the abnormality early.

“What we can do is get a baseline of the tissue condition at that point, and look at that tissue year over year over year,” Bernardis said.

And in a mammogram, breast cancer surgeon Dr. Margaret Chen pointed out, the cancer can be almost invisible.

“Cancer is white on mammogram and density in breasts is white, so it’s like white on white,” Chen said.

Using only a mammogram to screen women with dense breast tissue leaves the frightening possibility of a missed diagnosis.

“This technology might improve the detection,” Bernardis said.

And there is another plus.

“Because the system is non-invasive, it’s non-compressive, because it’s non-radiative, it is very safe to use on a routine basis,” he said.

“If there is a test that could find cancer earlier, then it would be beneficial,” Chen added.

Lindsay said the First Warning System deserves a lot of credit.

“Who knows if I would have been here; if it would have already taken my life?” she said. “I am one lucky, lucky person, and I know that every day.”

Developers estimate that the device will cost around $200, and they expect approval by the Food and Drug Administration in about a year.

Read more -

'Severe epidemic' of sexually-transmitted diseases is sweeping the nation, warns the U.S. CDC on Valentine's Day -

'Severe epidemic' of sexually-transmitted diseases is sweeping the nation, warns  the U.S. CDC on Valentine's Day - 

Just in time for Valentine’s Day, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control released data Wednesday revealing that 20 million new sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are diagnosed each year nationwide, costing some $16 billion in taxpayer funds.
Half of the 20 million new infections affect people ages 15 to 24 - who only make up a quarter of the population,l according to the statistics. 
Human papillomavirus (HPV) tops the list as the most common infection followed by chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, herpes, hepatitis B, HIV and trichomoniasis.

The number of new infections in the country has been growing over the last couple decades, leading one CDC researcher to declare that the U.S. is facing an 'ongoing, severe STI epidemic.'
There were 15 million new infections reported in 1996 and 18.9 million reported in 2000. Though researchers noted that the methods for gathering information about new infections back then were slightly different, and may account for some discrepancy in the numbers. 

'STIs take a big health and economic toll on men and women in the United States, especially our youth,' CDC epidemiologist Catherine Lindsay told NBC News. 
Much of the $16 billion in annual healthcare costs that go to STI's is spent on patients with HIV/AIDS, who require lifetime care.

But less serious infections aren't always less expensive. 
Diseases like Chlamydia can lead to complications, especially if they are not treated, which can end up costing patients thousands of dollars out of pocket.
That might be why on the eve of Valentine's Day, the CDC decided to release two new studies on the growth of STI's and to urge people to practice abstinence or safe sex by using a form of birth control and getting tested.