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Top Ten Signs You’re a Fundamentalist Christian

10 – You vigorously deny the existence of thousands of gods claimed by other religions, but feel outraged when someone denies the existence of yours.

 9 – You feel insulted and “dehumanized” when scientists say that people evolved from other life forms, but you have no problem with the Biblical claim that we were created from dirt.

8 – You laugh at polytheists, but you have no problem believing in a Triune God.

7 – Your face turns purple when you hear of the “atrocities” attributed to Allah, but you don’t even flinch when hearing about how God/Jehovah slaughtered all the babies of Egypt in “Exodus” and ordered the elimination of entire ethnic groups in “Joshua” including women, children, and trees!

6 – You laugh at Hindu beliefs that deify humans, and Greek claims about gods sleeping with women, but you have no problem believing that the Holy Spirit impregnated Mary, who then gave birth to a man-god who got killed, came back to life and then ascended into the sky.

 5 – You are willing to spend your life looking for little loopholes in the scientifically established age of Earth (few billion years), but you find nothing wrong with believing dates recorded by Bronze Age tribesmen sitting in their tents and guessing that Earth is a few generations old.

 4– You believe that the entire population of this planet with the exception of those who share your beliefs — though excluding those in all rival sects – will spend Eternity in an infinite Hell of Suffering.  And yet consider your religion the most “tolerant” and “loving.”

3 – While modern science, history, geology, biology, and physics have failed to convince you otherwise, some idiot rolling around on the floor speaking in “tongues” may be all the evidence you need to “prove” Christianity.

2 – You define 0.01% as a “high success rate” when it comes to answered prayers. You consider that to be evidence that prayer works.  And you think that the remaining 99.99% FAILURE was simply the will of God.

1 – You actually know a lot less than many atheists and agnostics do about the Bible, Christianity, and church history – but still call yourself a Christian.


Storms hit Sydney as tornado strikes NSW lake

With more than 300 lightning strikes, bucketing rain and reports of fishing boats missing in a tornado, last night was the epitome of wild weather. Sydney’s northern beaches were the hardest hit by a thunderstorm that moved over the city’s east and northern suburbs late yesterday. Bureau of Meteorology senior forecaster Jake Phillips said Avalon received 36mm in just half an hour. Advertisement: Story continues below “That was far and away the highest rainfall figures we saw,” Mr Phillips said. Weatherzone meteorologist Doug Fenton said there were about 328 lightning strikes in the Sydney Basin overnight. “There was certainly a lot, particularly in the northern suburbs. “For Sydney, 328 is quite a lot.” Other northern suburbs were drenched, including 28mm at Mona Vale and 27mm at Hornsby, in what Mr Phillips described as a fairly typical Sydney summer thunderstorm. Less typical, however, was a storm that hit Lake Burrendong in the state’s central west yesterday afternoon. Police said heavy hail hit about 5pm, when many fishermen were out on the water. Several boats were unaccounted for for hours as police, State Emergency Service volunteers and a helicopter searched for them. They were all found by about 8.15pm and no injuries were reported to police. Initial media reports last night suggested the lake had been hit by a tornado, but Mr Phillips said that had not yet been confirmed by meteorologists. The wild weather may have been caused by a “micro burst” from a type of thunderstorm called a supercell. “It’s when you get a particularly severe thunderstorm and you get a burst of cold air that comes out of the thunderstorm and rushes towards the ground. “The storm that was over that way, from what we could see on the radar, it looked like a supercell thunderstorm. “That’s a particularly severe type and often with supercells, not always but often, we see things like large hail and a lot of wind damage as well as heavy rain.”

Stephanie Gardiner

 


Comet Stays Alive After Buzzing Sun

Comet Lovejoy emerges after racing through sun's atmosphere. Credit: NASA/SDO

Comet Lovejoy emerges after racing through sun’s atmosphere. Credit: NASA/SDO

Much to everyone’s surprise, comet Lovejoy survived its heated encounter with the sun late yesterday.

Between the hours of 7 and 8 p.m. ET, cameras aboard NASA’s sun-watching satellite the Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) had a ringside seat to the bombing of the bun, and they managed to lock onto the comet

SDO’s onboard cameras provided live views that were streamed over the Internet, showing the comet’s precarious journey directly through the million-degree heat of the solar corona. All the while Lovejoy was visibly shedding material as it reached an altitude of only 87,000 miles from the sun’s surface.

While most watching the solar spectacle, including astronomers, thought Lovejoy would completely dissipate due to the intense solar baking, the plucky comet amazingly emerged on the far side of the sun a short time later—shining nearly as bright as it did before its close encounter.

However, after having barnstormed the sun, the latest analyses of the images show that, even though the singed comet appears to have survived, it’s not without wounds. The comet’s tail—composed of dust and gas shed from the vaporizing core—has been lost. Remnants of the tail appear to be visible in images along the track the inbound comet took before reaching the sun.

Now, having survived, the severed head of the comet, less than a day after grazing the sun is already showing evidence of growing a new tail.

With at least five spacecraft trained on the fiery event these past days, astronomers hope to learn a lot more not only about Lovejoy and other sungrazer comets but also about how the sun works and its impact on Earth.

Karl Bottoms, of Naval Research Lab in Washington D.C., said on his Sungrazing comet website today, “Objects like this can also provide us with a tremendous amount of information about the solar wind and conditions in the solar corona, which in turn allows us to gain more understanding of the Sun as a driver of “Space Weather” at Earth (it’s one of the reasons my group is interested in sungrazing comets).”

Now that the main event is over, the race is on to see if anyone can pick up comet Lovejoy through ground-based telescopes as it departs the sun along its 400-year orbit. Bets are that it will take at least two to five days looking for the comet in the morning sky just before sunrise.

But after seeing how comet Lovejoy has fooled astronomers already, who knows what this little comet has in store for observers.

Andrew Fazekas, aka The Night Sky Guy,       is a science writer, broadcaster, and lecturer who loves to share    his    passion for the wonders of the universe through all media. He  is a      regular contributor to National Geographic News and is the  national      cosmic correspondent for Canada’s Weather Network TV  channel, space      columnist for CBC Radio network, and a consultant  for the Canadian   Space    Agency. As a member of the Royal  Astronomical Society of   Canada,   Andrew  has been observing the  heavens from Montreal for over a   quarter   century  and has never met a  clear night sky he didn’t like.


Supermassive Black Hole About to Eat Gas Cloud?

An illustration shows how a gas cloud could break apart.

A simulation shows how a gas cloud approaching our galaxy’s supermassive black hole may break apart.

Illustration courtesy Marc Schartmann, MPE/ESO

For the first time, a cloud of cool gas has been spotted approaching the supermassive black hole that lies at the center of our Milky Way galaxy—and astronomers are hoping they’ll soon get to watch the monster feed.

Called Sagittarius A*—or Sgr A*, pronounced “A star”—the black hole is estimated to be about four million times as massive as our sun. All that mass is packed into a space about as wide as the distance between Earth and the sun, making the object so dense not even light can escape its gravity.

Although the black hole itself is invisible, astronomers can see the effects of its powerful gravity on nearby stars, some of which orbit Sgr A* at speeds of more than 600 miles (965 kilometers) a second.

In addition, when a black hole eats, it makes a mess, which is exactly what astronomers hope to witness.

Due to its intense gravitational pull, the invisible giant is believed to have gained mass by shredding and eating stars, nebulae, and even whole solar systems that ventured too close.

This has formed what’s called an accretion disk—an orbiting disk of debris that’s constantly falling into the black hole.

Astronomers have therefore been able to “see” our galaxy’s supermassive black hole by looking at the steady stream of radiation created as superheated matter from the rapidly spinning disk falls in.

But the glow from Sgr A* is relatively dim compared with that from other galactic black holes that are more actively feeding, and the activity immediately surrounding the object is still poorly understood.

First Look at a Black Hole’s “Table Manners”

Now, using the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) in Chile, an international team of scientists has found a cloud of charged gas that’s about three times as massive as Earth accelerating toward the black hole’s maw.

In fact, the cloud has already begun to break up due to the black hole’s gravitational forces.

Models of how Sgr A* might affect the cloud “seem to be consistent with [the team’s] observation of a progressive elongation of the blob, and perhaps with a gaseous tail following the blob in its orbit,” Mark Morris, an astrophysicist at the University of California, Los Angeles, wrote in an accompanying commentary.

The team thinks the cloud will reach the event horizon—a black hole’s point of no return—some time in 2013, creating a bright radiation flare that will shed new light on the black hole’s feeding behavior.

“This is really the very first time we will see how a black hole feeds. It’s very exciting,” said study co-author Stefan Gillessen, of the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics in Germany.

What’s more, the black hole’s “meal” should last for about ten years, he said, giving astronomers ample time to study what happens in the surrounding region.

Now that the cloud has been spotted, astronomers with the VLT’s NACO and SINFONI programs will be watching closely to see how the event unfolds.

And according to UCLA’s Morris, “many telescopes are likely to be watching.”

Jason Major for National Geographic news


Snowmageddon: What’s behind extreme winter weather

An aerial shot of Lake Shore Drive in Chicago.

Is the freakishly cold weather that hit Europe and the US in the past two years a fluke or a trend?

LAST winter, Florida got so cold that torpid iguanas fell from trees, pythons froze to death, crops were damaged and corals in the seas around the Florida Keys died in greater numbers than ever recorded before. Further north, heavy snowstorms caused chaos across much of the US.

Across the pond in the UK, it got pretty nippy too – and it stayed cold for much longer than usual. The average temperature of the country in December 2010 was -1 °C, well below the long-term December average of 4.2 °C. It was the second coldest December in central England since records began back in 1659. Here too, heavy snowfalls brought cars, trains and planes to a standstill.

This extreme weather followed on from similar conditions in parts of Europe, the US and Asia the winter before (2009-10) and, to a lesser extent, the winter before that. So was this run of extreme winter weather a fluke, or can we expect more of the same?

More highs than lows

To get the full picture, we have to look at what happened across the northern hemisphere and how that compares with past winters. Parts of the hemisphere did have extended periods of cold weather, but from a historical perspective it was not that cold: few records for all-time lowest temperatures were set.

Meanwhile, in 2009, Canada had the warmest and driest winter since nationwide records began in 1948. Remember how the organisers of the Winter Olympics in Vancouver had to truck in snow? The average temperature over the country was 4 °C higher than normal, with some Arctic regions more than 6 °C over par.

In fact, during these two winters the northern hemisphere as a whole was warmer than the long-term average. More of it was unusually warm than was unusually cold, and the warm extremes were further away from the norm than the cold ones (Geophysical Research Letters, vol 38, p L17701).

What caused these extremes of hot and cold? Jeff Masters of weather service Weather Underground likens the situation that prevailed at times during these winters to what happens when you leave the fridge door open: the cold air spills out into the kitchen, while inside the fridge it gets too warm.

Normally, cold Arctic air is hemmed in by strong westerly winds circling the globe near the pole, a configuration known as the polar vortex. The fastest of these winds form the jet stream, around 10 kilometres above us (see diagram). The jet stream always follows a wavy path, moving closer to or away from the pole as it circles the globe, but when the winds weaken, these kinks grow much larger. This allows vast tongues of freezing air to spill southwards in places, while in others relatively warm air flows north towards the pole (see diagram). Depending on the position of the jet stream, this can bring either freezing Arctic blasts or balmy weather to countries such as the UK.

The polar vortex has always waxed and waned, but over the past two winters it was exceptionally weak for much of the time. The result was a pattern of atmospheric circulation known as “warm Arctic, cold continents“. It is rare, but not unheard of: before these last two winters, the most recent occurrences were in 1936, 1963 and 1969.

Does that mean that natural variability was the cause of recent events? The short answer is that nobody knows for sure. “There are divided opinions,” says James Overland of the Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory in Seattle.

If it was just natural variability, we are unlikely to have more than another year or two of strange weather. Another suggestion is that there is a link with the recent extreme low in solar activity. If so, since that solar minimum has now ended, things should also start to return to normal.

Overland, however, doesn’t buy these ideas. He thinks there are a lot more snowy and cold winters to come. He points out that the Arctic is warming faster than anywhere else on Earth, and as the extent of summer sea ice falls, the Arctic Ocean is soaking up more heat during the summer and releasing it in autumn.

According to an analysis by Overland, finalised in October 2009 before the coldest of the recent winters began, this is affecting wind patterns above the Arctic and weakening the Arctic vortex (Tellus, vol 62, p 1). As the vortex weakens, it becomes increasingly likely that cold air will move south and produce anomalously cold winter weather.

Several other researchers have come to similar conclusions. In particular, Jennifer Francis of Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey, has been studying “reanalyses”, which combine historical observations with the sort of computer models used by weather forecasters today to generate a complete picture of past weather. In as-yet unpublished work, she has found that, since the 1980s, the east-west component of the polar jet stream has slowed by around 15 per cent during autumn and winter, with the biggest drops occurring in the past few years.

The jet stream is driven by the difference in temperature between the high and low latitudes, but the rapid warming in the Arctic is weakening that temperature gradient, especially in autumn, she says. “I think what’s happening at the surface is driving the changes at the upper level.” A slowdown in the jet stream means it is more likely to develop the enormous kinks that let Arctic air spill south. What’s more, these kinks move more slowly, making the weather they bring much more persistent.

They are also more likely to get stuck in one place for weeks at a time, Francis says. Such “blocking events” can lead to very extreme weather, such as the “Snowmageddon” blizzards in the US in February 2010 and the prolonged cold in the UK in December 2010.

There is some independent evidence to back Francis’s ideas. A study published in November found that blocking events are becoming more frequent over the Atlantic (Science, vol 334, p 655).

Kinks in the jet stream can bring warm weather as well as cold, though, Francis points out. “It’s not that we will have increasingly cold winters but more persistent conditions,” she says. “This winter could be incredibly warm for a long time.”

So the jury is still out, but a growing number of studies indicate that the atmospheric changes brought about by global warming are at least partly to blame for the past two extreme winters. If so, we could be in for a lot more unusual winter weather, with more extremes of both hot and cold. Hold on to your hat, because we could be in for a wild ride.

What’s with all the snow?

Recent winters have brought not only extreme cold but also record snowfalls to many places across Europe, Asia and the US. But shouldn’t we be seeing less snow if the world is getting warmer?

As always with matters climatological, things are not that simple.

Snow requires moist air, and warming is making the atmosphere wetter, which means more snow can fall at times. It also obviously has to be cold to snow, but once the temperature falls more than a few degrees below freezing heavy snowfall starts to become less likely, because very cold air is drier and less likely to rise and form clouds.

So as the world warms, the number of days during which it is cold enough to snow in a given area may decrease – but there could be more snowfall in areas that used to get so cold that heavy snow was rare.

Michael Le Page is a features editor for New Scientist


Blindness

Somewhere, somehow something has gone dreadfully wrong with our planet &  it’s peoples. It is tangible to those of us in tune – we can actually feel how out of balance Mother Earth really is. From the vicious & changing frequency of mega storms & floods – to earthquakes & tsunami’s that are increasing in strength & brutality. To the dry, drought stricken regions of our world where people are starving & becoming displaced every day. Poverty, population explosion. terrorism, civil unrest, genocide, slavery, disease on scales we have never witnessed before. Mass animal die offs & the poisoning of our oceans – the bleaching of our coral reefs & the destruction & extinction of species at an alarming rate. Economic meltdown & murmurs of war & still the masses do nothing. Surely you must wonder why?

You are living in a chemically induced fantasyland fed a diet of foods filled with hormones & additives to keep your minds under control. Given medications & antibiotics made by multi billion dollar companies that you take blindly. You are existing in a matrix created by the 1% – the elites – the so called masters of the universe who exist solely for profit & unholy power & who have bought you & your soul for the price of the latest computer game. They have blinded you to the real reality of your sub par lives, & the systematic destruction of civilization as you know it & made you deaf & dumb through addictive gadgets & gizmo’s. Willingly & blindly you are being led to the slaughterhouse, time is running out & you are too blind to see it. You are not  in control of your own destiny, how can you control anything when your governments have the capabilities of destroying it in an instant? It is a lie that they have promulgated for centuries, to keep you secure, to keep you quiet, to keep you under control.

It is too late by far, we are well into the third stage of the end prophecies. Open your eyes & mind & seize whatever time you have left to make peace with yourself & this planet.

 


Brown calls for parliamentary debate on US military presence

Bob Brown

Greens leader Bob Brown greets Barack Obama after the  US President addressed a joint sitting of Parliament in the House of Representatives. Picture: Ray Strange Source: The Australian

GREENS Leader Bob Brown has called for parliamentary debate on the increased US presence on Australian soil, warning the nation risked giving up an independent foreign policy.

Senator Brown also revealed he had asked Barack Obama to consider supporting a push to place Antarctica on the World Heritage List, a request the US President said he would consider when the pair spoke after his parliamentary address today.

As President Obama flew out of Canberra to Darwin, Senator Brown said the deal to rotate 2500 troops, as well as hosting increased numbers of ships and planes, should be debated by the public too.

“This means Australia giving up the alternative of an independent foreign policy and an independent future in the Asia-Pacific region,” he said.

“We are proud of Australia’s position in the world as a middle order nation with growing influence and a huge potential for good in our neighbourhood and in the Asia-Pacific region.”

Senator Brown said the decision to host US troops was a “statement to the neighbourhood” that Australia had given up on being independent players in the region, “like Sweden or Switzerland”.

“The government needs to give a debate into the parliament fully informed. Is 2500 the limit? What are going to be the on-ground facilities which ports, which airfields and bombing ranges will be made available to the United States?” he said.

Senator Brown said Antarctica should be “top of the list” for World Heritage listing.

“The response from the president was that he would look at it,” he said.

James Massola – The Australian