Month: February 2013

Supermassive Black Hole Spins Super-Fast

February 27, 2013 Imagine a sphere more than 2 million miles across – eight times the distance from Earth to the Moon – spinning so fast that its surface is traveling at nearly the speed of light. Such an object exists: the supermassive black hole at the center of the spiral galaxy NGC 1365. Astronomers measured its jaw-dropping spin rate using new data from the Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array, or NuSTAR, and the European Space Agency’s XMM-Newton X-ray satellites. “This is the first time anyone has accurately measured the spin of a supermassive black hole,” said lead author Guido Risaliti of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA) and INAF – Arcetri Observatory. This research is being published in the Feb. 28 issue of the journal Nature, and featured in a NASA media teleconference on Feb. 27th. A black hole’s gravity is so strong that, as the black hole spins, it drags the surrounding space along. The edge of this spinning hole is called the event horizon. Any material crossing the event horizon is pulled into the black hole. Inspiraling matter collects into an accretion disk, where friction heats it and causes it to emit X-rays. Risaliti and his colleagues measured X-rays from the center of NGC 1365 to determine where the inner edge of the accretion disk was located. This Innermost Stable Circular Orbit – the disk’s point of...

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Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History Acquires “Jaws of Life”

Additional Objects Related to Auto Safety Join Its Collections February 27, 2013 Auto-safety innovations and initiatives, including the “Jaws of Life,” will join the National Museum of American History’s permanent research collections. They illustrate the evolution of automobile safety and represent technological achievements such as portable rescue devices and repositioned fuel tanks, as well as public-awareness and driver-safety campaigns. “Thanks to the numerous automobile innovations throughout history, in addition to Americans becoming public advocates for auto safety, countless lives have been saved,” said Roger White, associate curator at the museum. “We are proud to develop a broad collection that documents these achievements for future generations of Americans.” The recent acquisitions include a 1977 Hurst Power Rescue Tool, developed by Mike Brick and popularly nicknamed “The Jaws of Life,” from the Carlsbad Fire Department in New Mexico; a 1983 license plate reading, “I AM MADD,” originally belonging to Candace Lightner, the founder of Mothers Against Drunk Driving; personal effects of her daughter Cari, whose death in a drunk-driving tragedy led to the founding of MADD; an original highway memorial sign donated by the Eddy County DWI Program in New Mexico; and a model of a 1971-1973 Ford Pinto, which was color-coded by auto-safety expert Byron Bloch to show prosecutors the unsafe location of fuel tanks near the rear bumper during the historic “reckless homicide” trial in Winamac, Ind., held in...

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USGS Estimates 162 Billion Short Tons of Recoverable Coal in the Powder River Basin

New basin-wide assessment of recoverable resources and reserves The Powder River Basin of Wyoming and Montana contains about 162 billion short tons (BST) of recoverable coal from a total of 1.07 trillion short tons of in-place resources according to a new USGS assessment. This assessment also estimates that 25 BST of those resources are currently economical to recover, the first such estimate released by the USGS for coal for an entire basin. The Powder River Basin—a large geologic feature located in northeastern Wyoming and southeastern Montana—contains the largest deposits of low-sulfur subbituminous coal in the world. This study is significant because it illustrates that only a relatively small percentage of in-place coal resources are technically and economically recoverable. Powder River Basin Assessment Map — A map showing the four assessment units for the 2013 USGS Powder River Basin coal assessment. “The United States is well-known for its rich endowment of coal resources and our in-place estimates bear that out,” said USGS Acting Director Suzette Kimball. “It’s important to note, however, the substantial difference between what is in-place and what is technically recoverable, let alone economic. This new basin-wide assessment provides that critical link for government and private managers to make informed decisions.” In 2011, the 16 mines in the PRB produced 462 million short tons (MST), about 42 percent of the Nation’s total coal production that year.  Subbituminous coal...

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Northern Michigan University Environment and Native American Students This Wednesday Join Debate Over Wolf Hunting in Michigan

(Marquette, MI) – For spiritual, religious, cultural, ecological and common sense reasons, two groups of Northern Michigan University students are hosting an anti-wolf hunt education and petition signing event this Wednesday to help put the issue before Michigan voters. The “Wolf Hunt Petition Signing Night” is from 7-10 p.m. this Wed., Feb. 27, 2013 in Jamrich 103 on the NMU Campus sponsored by the NMU EarthKeepers II Student Team and the Native American Students Association (NASA). Saying she opposes the proposed Michigan wolf hunt “because it is senseless” and motivated by money, NMU EarthKeepers II Student Team member Katelin Bingner, 20, said “the wolf isn’t our enemy, the wolf is closer to being something like our brother.” Only registered Michigan voters can sign the petitions provided by Keep Michigan Wolves Protected that is seeking enough signatures to force a November 2014 referendum on the wolf debate. Hunting wolves is a trophy sport because they have little or no fur value and are not generally consumed by humans, said Bingner, an NMU sophomore biology major from Spring Arbor, MI. In 2011, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service removed western Great Lakes wolves from Endangered Species Act. In a lame-duck session, Republican Governor Rick Snyder signed Public Act 520 in late 2012 turning the wolf into a game animal and giving the Michigan Natural Resources Commission the power to decide the...

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Tuition Rebate Can Help Small Businesses Cut Costs And Save Energy

Are you a small business owner or building operator looking for ways to cut your energy consumption and costs?  You may be eligible for up to $350 in tuition rebates for building operators who complete training and certification in the nationally-recognized Building Operator Certification (BOC) program. The $350 rebate from the Michigan Energy Office (MEO) is in addition to tuition rebates offered by a number of utility companies. To qualify for the tuition rebate, you must be a new or previous Rebuild Michigan program participant.     A BOC training course is scheduled for March 2013 at Lansing Community College, with additional locations to be announced for fall 2013 courses. For more information, please review the MEO guidelines, application, BOC brochure, and BOC registration homepage. Bookmark It Hide...

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