Tuesday, January 27, 2015

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: The Latest Report Of Volcanic Eruptions, Activity, Unrest And Awakenings – January 27, 2015!

January 27, 2015 - EARTH - The following constitutes the new activity, unrest and ongoing reports of volcanoes across the globe.

Colima (Mexico): Dramatic video caught on webcam showed eruptions with clouds of smoke rising above the crater of the Volcan del Fuego (Volcano of Fire), set between the states of Colima and Jalisco.

Eruptive activity continues at moderate levels with effusion of viscous lava at the summit,
producing frequent smaller and sometimes larger rockfalls and avalanches.

Three separate bursts were seen on Wednesday (January 21), Sunday (January 25) with a nocturnal one yesterday. Webcams de Mexico.com captured the dramatic images.

The 9,939-feet above sea-level (3,860-meters) Volcan del Fuego, one of Mexico's most active, has frequent moderate explosions.

WATCH: Explosive eruption at Mexico's Colima volcano.

Activity at the volcano was also reported in January.

Kliuchevskoi (Kamchatka): The eruptive activity has weakened a bit, but remains near-continuous. Small ash emissions from strombolian activity occurred yesterday and bright glow from this activity illuminates the volcano's summit at night.

Incandescence from strombolian activity at Klyuchevskoy volcano this morning

No lava flow seems to be active at the moment.

Shiveluch (Kamchatka): A strong vulcanian-type explosion occurred this morning. An ash plume rose to approx. 25,000 ft (7.5 km) altitude and a pyroclastic flow seems to have descended to the SE.

Explosion at Shiveluch this morning. Note the incandescent deposits of glowing bombs on the flanks and inside (along with lightning?) the eruption column.

Rising ash plume of the eruption

Zhupanovsky (Kamchatka, Russia): Intermittent ash emissions continue. A plume at 10,000 ft (3 km) altitude was detected extending SSE on satellite imagery this morning (Tokyo VAAC).

Suwanose-jima (Ryukyu Islands):
Occasional strombolian eruptions occur from time to time. An explosion was reported yesterday (Tokyo VAAC).

Dukono (Halmahera): Significant ash emissions were observed again this morning. Tokyo VAAC reported a plume extending 20 nautical miles to the SW, at estimated 10,000 ft (3 km) altitude.

Sakurajima (Kyushu, Japan): An unusually strong explosion occurred yesterday at 20:36 local time. VAAC Tokyo reported an ash plume to 16,000 ft (5 km) altitude.

Mild explosive activity from Sakurajima today

Today, the volcano has been much calmer with only a few smaller eruptions and phases of ash emissions.

- Volcano Discovery | Times of Malta.

DISASTER IMPACT: Winter Storm Juno Will Cost Over ONE BILLION DOLLARS - Despite Falling Far Short Of Its "Historic" Billing!

A delivery man weathers the storm during a blizzard in New York.  Adam Jeffery | CNBC

January 27, 2015 - UNITED STATES
- This week's winter storm fell far short of its "historic" billing, but the financial losses from the response could be much more severe.

Although firm estimates will need to gauge how quickly businesses are able to reopen after a driving ban and public-transportation stop ground much of the region's economies to a halt, it is possible that over-preparation for the winter storm cost states in the Northeast hundreds of millions of dollars—with some predictions crossing $1 billion.

A 2014 study from IHS Global Insight found that a major storm with "impassable" roads could have a significant economic impact with just a one-day shutdown. The research showed that a single day's shutdown in New York costs about $700.17 million, while Massachusetts loses about $265.12 million.

In fact, the study found that "the economic impact of snow-related closures far exceeds the cost of timely snow removal."

Two thirds of the direct economic losses of snow-related shutdowns come from hourly workers' pockets, that study said. Also of concern will be the indirect financial losses from the snow preparations, including loss of retail sales and sales tax revenues.

As the storm was bearing down on the northeast, Cowen predicted that 2 percent of region's sales and traffic could be lost—but this assumed that stores would be closed through Thursday.

Working off of the IHS numbers, the Boston Globe predicted the direct and indirect costs could add up to $1 billion.

Still, the overall economic impact could be relatively muted—the $1 billion estimate is a far cry from TheStreet's $16 billion projection based on earlier forecasts—as many businesses would be able to resume normal functioning on Tuesday.

"We think the economic impact of the storm is going to be relatively small," said Evan Gold, senior vice president of weather advisory firm Planalytics.

"We're estimating at about $500 million, and that's simply based on the duration of the storm, the timing of the storm, and the population centers that are impacted," he said in a "Squawk Box" interview.

No matter the eventual cost, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said his office was taking a safety-first strategy.

"When we're dealing with a natural disaster that we don't get to decide whether it's coming or not, we can safely say it will have an [economic] impact, but our job right now is to keep people safe," he said in a Monday news conference. - CNBC.

MATRIX NOW: MIT Researchers Reveal Interface That Can Allow A Computer To Plug Into The Brain - System Could Deliver Optical Signals And Drugs Directly To The Brain!

Images from the 1999 American-Australian science fiction action film The Matrix.

January 27, 2015 - TECHNOLOGY
- It has been the holy grail of science fiction - an interface that allows us to plug our brain into a computer.

Now, researchers at MIT have revealed new fibres less than a width of a hair that could make it a reality.

They say their system that could deliver optical signals and drugs directly into the brain, along with electrical readouts to continuously monitor the effects of the various inputs.

'We're building neural interfaces that will interact with tissues in a more organic way than devices that have been used previously,' said MIT's Polina Anikeeva, an assistant professor of materials science and engineering.

The human brain's complexity makes it extremely challenging to study not only because of its sheer size, but also because of the variety of signaling methods it uses simultaneously.

Christina Tringides, a senior at MIT and member of the research team, holds a sample of the multifunction fiber that could deliver optical signals and drugs
directly into the brain, along with electrical readouts to continuously monitor the effects of the various inputs.

Conventional neural probes are designed to record a single type of signaling, limiting the information that can be derived from the brain at any point in time.

Now researchers at MIT may have found a way to change that.

By producing complex fibers that could be less than the width of a hair, they have created a system that could deliver optical signals and drugs directly into the brain, along with simultaneous electrical readout to continuously monitor the effects of the various inputs.

The new technology is described in a paper in the journal Nature Biotechnology.

The new fibers are made of polymers that closely resemble the characteristics of neural tissues, Anikeeva says, allowing them to stay in the body much longer without harming the delicate tissues around them.

To do that, her team made use of novel fiber-fabrication technology pioneered by MIT professor of materials science Yoel Fink and his team, for use in photonics and other applications.

The result, Anikeeva explains, is the fabrication of polymer fibers 'that are soft and flexible and look more like natural nerves.

The result, Anikeeva explains, is the fabrication of polymer fibers 'that are soft and flexible and look more like natural nerves.'

Devices currently used for neural recording and stimulation, she says, are made of metals, semiconductors, and glass, and can damage nearby tissues during ordinary movement.

'It's a big problem in neural prosthetics,' Anikeeva says. 'They are so stiff, so sharp — when you take a step and the brain moves with respect to the device, you end up scrambling the tissue.'

The key to the technology is making a larger-scale version, called a preform, of the desired arrangement of channels within the fiber: optical waveguides to carry light, hollow tubes to carry drugs, and conductive electrodes to carry electrical signals.

These polymer templates, which can have dimensions on the scale of inches, are then heated until they become soft, and drawn into a thin fiber, while retaining the exact arrangement of features within them.

A single draw of the fiber reduces the cross-section of the material 200-fold, and the process can be repeated, making the fibers thinner each time and approaching nanometer scale.

During this process, Anikeeva says, 'Features that used to be inches across are now microns.'

Combining the different channels in a single fiber, she adds, could enable precision mapping of neural activity, and ultimately treatment of neurological disorders, that would not be possible with single-function neural probes.

For example, light could be transmitted through the optical channels to enable optogenetic neural stimulation, the effects of which could then be monitored with embedded electrodes.

Combining the different channels in a single fiber, she adds, could enable precision mapping of neural activity,and ultimately
treatment of neurological disorders, that would not be possible with single-function neural probes.

At the same time, one or more drugs could be injected into the brain through the hollow channels, while electrical signals in the neurons are recorded to determine, in real time, exactly what effect the drugs are having.

MIT researchers discuss their novel implantable device that can deliver optical signals and drugs to the brain, without harming the brain tissue.

The system can be tailored for a specific research or therapeutic application by creating the exact combination of channels needed for that task. 'You can have a really broad palette of devices,' Anikeeva says.

WATCH: Multifunctional fibers communicate with the brain.

While a single preform a few inches long can produce hundreds of feet of fiber, the materials must be carefully selected so they all soften at the same temperature.

The fibers could ultimately be used for precision mapping of the responses of different regions of the brain or spinal cord, Anikeeva says, and ultimately may also lead to long-lasting devices for treatment of conditions such as Parkinson's disease.

John Rogers, a professor of materials science and engineering and of chemistry at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign who was not involved in this research, says, 'These authors describe a fascinating, diverse collection of multifunctional fibers, tailored for insertion into the brain where they can stimulate and record neural behaviors through electrical, optical, and fluidic means.

The results significantly expand the toolkit of techniques that will be essential to our development of a basic understanding of brain function.'  - Daily Mail.

ICE AGE NOW: 2010s Are The SNOWIEST DECADE ON RECORD - Despite Global Warming Predictions!

January 27, 2015 - UNITED STATES
- Despite predictions that snow could become a thing of the past, the first five years of the 2010s have seen more “major impact storms” than the previous decade. This decade has also beat out the 1960s in terms of major storms, according to a seasoned meteorologist.

“We will have had 14 major impact storms this decade… beating out the 10 in the 1960s and 2000s,” Joseph D’Aleo, a certified consulting meteorologist at Weatherbell Analytics, told the climate news site Climate Depot.

“Assuming this storm gets ranked by NOAA as one of the high impact (population affected by snowstorm) snowstorms (likely since the November storm was), we will have had 14 major impact storms this decade (only half over) beating out the 10 in the 1960s and 2000s,” D’Aleo said.

The U.S. East Coast is being hit by a major snowstorm that has brought up to three feet of snow and already resulted in thousands of flights being cancelled. Some 13 counties in New York and New York City have stopped all public transportation. Connecticut and Massachusetts have also put travel plans in place as residents are pummeled by snow.

“Watch for widespread sub-zero cold next week if the European models are right (all the way to North Carolina and including DC area),” D’Aleo added.

Some environmentalists have already tried to blame the current storm on global warming, saying higher temperatures are creating more extreme storms. Environmentalist Bill McKibben tweeted that five of the 10 worst storms in New York City happened in the last five years.

New York Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo also chimed into the debate, saying the blizzard was “part of the changing climate.”

Cuomo said Monday “there is a pattern of extreme weather that we’ve never seen before,” adding that “anyone who says there’s not a dramatic change in weather patterns is probably denying reality.”

But is East Coast weather becoming more extreme because of global warming? University of Colorado climate scientist Dr. Roger Pielke Jr. says it’s not so. On Tuesday, Pielke took to twitter to vent his frustrations at claims that global warming was making the weather worse.

“So those who argue for a simple relationship between increasing water content of the atmosphere and storm strength, data do not support such a claim over this multi-decadal period, in this region,” Pielke wrote on his blog.

Interestingly enough, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change predicted in 2001 that global warming would cause milder winters with less snow. The IPCC argued that there would be “[m]ilder winter temperatures will decrease heavy snowstorms.”

Several scientists in the last 15 years have predicted the end of snow as we know it. In 2000, U.K. scientists said snowfall would become “just a thing of the past.”

“Children just aren’t going to know what snow is,” Dr. David Viner, a scientist with the climatic research unit at the University of East Anglia, told the UK Independent in 2000. - Daily Caller.