Friday 21 February 2014
Photo, above: Astronomers at NASA have seen signs of the first stars in the universe. Alexander Kashlinsky and colleagues at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt observed fluctuations in the cosmic infrared background which, they say, are due to "Population III" stars. The observations were made with the Spitzer Space Telescope (Nature 438 45).
First stars Population III stars are thought to have formed in the first 200 million years after the Big Bang. Simulations predict that they were over 100 times more massive than the Sun and that they existed in clusters.
JOHN BATCHELOR SHOW
Friday 21 February 2014 / Hour 1, Block B: Mona Charen, NRO, in re: The Tea Party is so frustrated with current situation that it wants to make a statement irrespective of practical considerations in favor of the GOP. It calls Republicans "squishes." Anyone opposing Ted Cruz's tactics was called a coward, in a surrender caucus. The shutdown cratered the reputation of the GOP, probably contributed to the loss of the Virginia governorship. In some ways, the Tea Party is a healthy sign of political life in this country: people came out dressed as the Founders and said, quit spending us into bankruptcy. . . . Politics is about bringing together your own party and increasing the divisions of the opposition.
Cruz Aims at His Own Side — Again He may be doing more damage to the GOP than are the Democrats. Senator Ted Cruz (R, Texas) may be the brightest light to adorn the Republican Party in many years. He knows how to make the case for conservative ideas, pointing, for example, to the contrasting fates of Detroit and Houston to illustrate the superiority of conservative policies. So it’s particularly galling to see that rather than train his fire on Obama and the liberal machine that cocoons him, Cruz has become a one-man wrecking ball against Republicans. His most recent foray into sabotaging his colleagues concerned the debt-limit increase.
Because Speaker Boehner sent over a “clean” debt-limit bill, Republican senators decided to let it pass with only Democratic votes. Republicans wouldn't be endorsing the Democrats’ spending priorities, but neither would they be opening themselves to the accusation of flirting with national default. With Obama’s political fortunes sinking and several red state Democratic senators in jeopardy, Republicans have a good chance to . . . [more]
Friday 21 February 2014 / Hour 1, Block C: Curtis Brainard, NYT, in re: Astronomers are searching for rare, very old stars that contain hints about the chemical evolution of the universe. A tiny number of extremely ancient stars having a metallicity of -7: less than 1/10,000,ooo of the iron abundance of our Sun. Over billions of years they've migrated across the universe. When the first stars were formed, it as of hydrogen and helium; they exploded and produced all the other elements - from lighter to heavier. Younger stars, like our Sun, are rich in metals; ancient ones are poor in metals. Trace back the chemical evolution of the universe. Got to the phenomenal telescope in Chile, look at starlight. New, sophisticated spectroscopes spread photons over visible waves of light. First-generation existed before galaxies.
The Archaeology of the Stars Four years ago, Anna Frebel, a young astronomer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, found an ancient star in a neighboring galaxy whose chemical composition proved nearly identical to some unusual stars on the outskirts of our own galaxy, which are older than the Milky Way itself. It was a striking discovery, suggesting that the relatively young Milky Way is growing by conquest — “cannibalizing” nearby older dwarf galaxies. And it underscored the importance of a new way of learning how the universe evolved from the Big Bang to the modern cosmos.
Traditionally, astronomers study the early universe by looking back in time — peering deeper and deeper into space for vestiges of light from billions of years ago. But in the last decade, Dr. Frebel and others have used powerful telescopes and high-resolution spectroscopes to study the chemical composition of very old stars closer to home, in the Milky Way’s halo, producing a wealth of information about the creation of elements and the formation of the first stars and galaxies.
These astronomers are like Egyptologists combing the desert for relics of bygone civilizations, and call themselves stellar archaeologists. Their work relies on the fact that the rare, primordial stars they are looking for have very few atoms heavier than hydrogen and helium, the gases from which they came together. By contrast, our sun and other relatively young stars are rich in other elements, which astronomers collectively refer to as metals.
Astronomers believe that some of the old stars formed from the chemically enriched dust left over from the explosive deaths of the very first generation of stars, and their atmospheres contain important information about their forebears, like DNA passed from parent to offspring.
The hunt for these scarce antiquities goes back to the early 1950s, when scientists recognized that not all stars have the same metal-rich chemical composition as the sun. “At the time, they didn’t know what to do with the metal-poor stars,” Dr. Frebel, 33, said. But astronomers have since established . . . [more] See page: Population III, II and I stars.
Friday 21 February 2014 / Hour 1, Block D: Michael Phillips, WSJ Online, in re: After Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Brain-Injured Veterans Search for Solace Returning U.S. Veterans Face Physical and Mental Hurdles Pete Bunce walked into a room at a U.S. military hospital in Germany in March 2004, and stared hard at the unconscious young Marine on the bed. His head, gouged by shrapnel from an insurgent bomb in Iraq, was grotesquely swollen. His face was distorted and his right eye was near blind. Mr. Bunce spoke his first thought: "This is not my son." The Bunce family and their doctors have spent the decade since trying to restore Justin Bunce to the man they knew, with limited success.
Cpl. Bunce remains intelligent and funny. But his brain no longer sends the messages that allow him to walk smoothly, or to warn him when his behavior might offend or frighten people. "I can't dream anymore," he said. "I would even be happy with nightmares, but I don't even have those." The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have left a generation of brain-injured veterans who, like Cpl. Bunce, may get better, but never well. [more]
Friday 21 February 2014 / Hour 2, Block A: Michael Vlahos, Naval War College, in re: Before and after shots show devastation in Kiev's Independence Square The main causes of World War I, which began in central Europe in late July 1914, included many factors, such as the conflicts and hostility between the great . . . Reporter's notebook: The worst day I've seen in Kiev The gunbattle was so close it rattled the walls. I grabbed my camera and pointed it out the window, looking toward . . . Converts Join with Militants in Kiev Clash (1 of 2)
Friday 21 February 2014 / Hour 2, Block B: Michael Vlahos, Naval War College, in re: Before and after shots show devastation in Kiev's Independence Square The main causes of World War I, which began in central Europe in late July 1914, included many factors, such as the conflicts and hostility between the great . . . Reporter's notebook: The worst day I've seen in Kiev The gunbattle was so close it rattled the walls. I grabbed my camera and pointed it out the window, looking toward . . . Converts Join with Militants in Kiev Clash (2 of 2)
Friday 21 February 2014 / Hour 2, Block C: Conrad Black, NRO, in re: Prison-Industrial Complex Politicians need to stand up to the prosecutocracy. The recent commutation by President Obama of eight lengthy individual sentences for drug abuse is a tiny but significant gesture, as America’s long indulgence, spiked intermittently into passionate support, for draconian hypocrisy in its failed War on Drugs yields grudgingly to the forces of reason and decency. This follows the reduction in the disparity of sentences for crack as opposed to powder cocaine from 100 to one to 18 to one. There are a number of reasons for this change, but the principal one, apart from the absurd starting imbalance, is that the cocaine-using middle-class and university white people are powder customers, and the generally poorer African Americans tend to be crack users. The first black president and attorney general in U.S. history were not impetuous in their haste to make this change, and 18 to one is still an unsupportable discrimination.
Various states, with the encouragement of a handful of more creative public-policy thinkers, such as Newt Gingrich (who despite his temperamental unsuitability for high public office is an original mind at times), have released significant numbers of nonviolent offenders because of budgetary restraints and the hideous expense of the custodial system. There is a state-supreme-court mandate in California to reduce prison overcrowding, which has reached proportions of deemed unconstitutional inhumanity. Unfortunately, it is practically impossible to discern much sense of traditional aspiration for reform of the kind that fired the minds and ambitions of great statesmen of the past, not just ostensible radicals like William Jennings Bryan or even Eugene V. Debs, and the British Shaftesbury, Bright, and Cobden, but such great and sometimes apparently conservative officeholders as the Roosevelts, Wilson, Disraeli, Gladstone, Lloyd George, and Churchill. They were all motivated by companion desires to preserve and strengthen the societies in which they lived, but to make them better and fairer. Little of this spirit remains in most countries, and practically none in the . . . [more]
Friday 21 February 2014 / Hour 2, Block D: Mark Oppenhemer, NYT, in re: Austin's Moon Towers, Beyond 'Dazed and Confused' A moon tower glows near the Texas . . .
Friday 21 February 2014 / Hour 3, Block A: Liz Peek, The Fiscal Times, in re: Obama’s Workforce: Discouraged, Disincentivized, Downsized
Friday 21 February 2014 / Hour 3, Block B: Seb Gorka, FDD, In re: Militants turning to violence in Egypt; groups use Facebook to threaten police Islamist opponents of Egypt's military-led government are increasingly embracing military . . .
Friday 21 February 2014 / Hour 3, Block C: Nicholas Wade, NYT, in re: Tracing Ancestry, Researchers Produce a Genetic Atlas of Human Mixing Events Geneticists using new statistical approaches have taken a first shot at identifying and dating the major population mixture events of the past 4,000 years.
Friday 21 February 2014 / Hour 3, Block D: Eric Trager, New Republic, in re:
Sisi the Invincible Why Egypt's Next President Won't Fear a Revolution Egyptian Defense Minister Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s quick rise from obscure military bureaucrat to national idol reflects Egypt’s popular mood, which, after three-plus years of constant political tumult, desires stability in the form of a strongman. But his sudden emergence also reflects Egyptians’ moodiness: Sisi represents 180 degrees of ideological difference from Mohamed Morsi, the Muslim Brotherhood leader whom Egyptians elected less than two years ago and then toppled 12 months later. So it should come as no surprise if Sisi's support quickly dwindles after winning the presidency and Egypt again sees mass protests. (It doesn't help matters that, like virtually every other Egyptian political figure, Sisi has no apparent answers for the country’s significant economic woes, high youth unemployment, and exclusivist . . . [more]
Friday 21 February 2014 / Hour 4, Block A: State of Failure: Yasser Arafat, Mahmoud Abbas, and the Unmaking of the Palestinian State by Jonathan Schanzer (1 of 4)
Friday 21 February 2014 / Hour 4, Block B: State of Failure: Yasser Arafat, Mahmoud Abbas, and the Unmaking of the Palestinian State by Jonathan Schanzer (2 of 4)
Friday 21 February 2014 / Hour 4, Block C: State of Failure: Yasser Arafat, Mahmoud Abbas, and the Unmaking of the Palestinian State by Jonathan Schanzer (3 of 4)
Friday 21 February 2014 / Hour 4, Block D: State of Failure: Yasser Arafat, Mahmoud Abbas, and the Unmaking of the Palestinian State by Jonathan Schanzer (4 of 4)
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Hour 1: Rush.
Hour 2: Empire: Total War. Ides of March. Cowboys & Aliens.
Hour 3: Ides of March. The Expendables. Tomorrow Never Dies. After Earth.
Hour 4: Gears of War 2.