Man itself is
the largest Technology's Museum (
Rana Muhammad Imran Khan Editor)
Radar Demonstrates Ability to Foresee Sinkholes
New analyses of
NASA airborne radar data collected in 2012 reveal the radar
detected indications of a huge sinkhole before it collapsed and
forced evacuations near Bayou Corne, La. that year.
suggest such radar data, if collected routinely from airborne
systems or satellites, could at least in some cases foresee
sinkholes before they happen, decreasing danger to people and
are depressions in the ground formed when Earth surface layers
collapse into caverns below. They usually form without warning.
The data were collected as part of an ongoing NASA campaign to
monitor sinking of the ground along the Louisiana Gulf Coast.
Cathleen Jones and Ron Blom of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory
(JPL) in Pasadena, Calif., analyzed interferometric synthetic
aperture radar (InSAR) imagery of the area acquired during
flights of the agency's Uninhabited Airborne Vehicle Synthetic
Aperture Radar (UAVSAR), which uses a C-20A jet, in June 2011
and July 2012. InSAR detects and measures very subtle
deformations in Earth's surface.
analyses showed the ground surface layer deformed significantly
at least a month before the collapse, moving mostly horizontally
up to 10.2 inches (260 millimeters) toward where the sinkhole
would later form. These precursory surface movements covered a
much larger area -- about 1,640 by 1,640 feet, (500 by 500
meters) -- than that of the initial sinkhole, which measured
about 2 acres (1 hectare).
the study are published in the February issue of the journal
horizontal surface deformations had not previously been
considered a signature of sinkholes, the new study shows they
can precede sinkhole formation well in advance," said Jones.
"This kind of movement may be more common than previously
thought, particularly in areas with loose soil near the
Corne sinkhole formed unexpectedly Aug. 3, 2012, after weeks of
minor earthquakes and bubbling natural gas that provoked
community concern. It was caused by the collapse of a sidewall
of an underground storage cavity connected to a nearby well
operated by Texas Brine Company and owned by Occidental
Petroleum. On-site investigation revealed the storage cavity,
located more than 3,000 feet (914 meters) underground, had been
mined closer to the edge of the subterranean Napoleonville salt
dome than thought. The sinkhole, which filled with slurry --a
fluid mixture of water and pulverized solids-- has gradually
expanded and now measures about 25 acres (10.1 hectares) and is
at least 750 feet (229 meters) deep. It is still growing.
shows radar remote sensing could offer a monitoring technique
for identifying at least some sinkholes before their surface
collapse, and could be of particular use to the petroleum
industry for monitoring operations in salt domes," said Blom.
"Salt domes are dome-shaped structures in sedimentary rocks that
form where large masses of salt are forced upward. By measuring
strain on Earth's surface, this capability can reduce risks and
provide quantitative information that can be used to predict a
sinkhole's size and growth rate."
sinkholes have no natural external surface drainage, and they
form through natural processes and human activities. They occur
in regions of "karst" terrain where the rock below the surface
can be dissolved by groundwater, most commonly in areas with
limestone or other carbonate rocks, gypsum, or salt beds. When
the rocks dissolve, they form spaces and caverns underground.
Sinkholes vary in size from a few feet across to hundreds of
acres, and some can be very deep. They are common hazards
worldwide and are found in all regions of the United States,
with Florida, Missouri, Texas, Alabama, Kentucky, Tennessee and
Pennsylvania reporting the most sinkhole damage. While sinkhole
deaths are rare, in February 2013 a man in Tampa, Fla., was
killed when his house was swallowed by a sinkhole.
human-produced Bayou Corne sinkhole occurred in an area not
prone to sinkholes. The Gulf Coast of Louisiana and eastern
Texas sits on an ancient ocean floor with salt layers that form
domes as the lower-density salt rises. The Napoleonville salt
dome underneath Bayou Corne extends to within 690 feet (210
meters) of the surface. Various companies mine caverns in the
dome by dissolving the salt to obtain brine and subsequently
store fuels and salt water in the caverns.
Blom say continued UAVSAR monitoring of the area as recently as
October 2013 has shown a widening area of deformation, with the
potential to affect other nearby storage cavities located near
the salt dome's outer wall. Because the Bayou Corne sinkhole is
now filled with water, it is harder to measure deformation of
the area using InSAR. However, if the deformation extends far
past the sinkhole boundaries, InSAR could continue to track
surface movement caused by changes below the surface.
growth of the sinkhole threatens the community and Highway 70,
so there is a pressing need for reliable estimates of how fast
it may expand and how big it may eventually get.
of data could be of great value in determining the direction in
which the sinkhole is likely to expand," said Jones. "At Bayou
Corne, it appears that material is continuing to flow into the
huge cavern that is undergoing collapse."
there are no immediate plans to fly UAVSAR over sinkhole-prone
spend a lot of time flying and processing data without capturing
a sinkhole," he said. "Our discovery at Bayou Corne was really
serendipitous. But it does demonstrate one of the expected
benefits of an InSAR satellite that would image wide areas
unexpected ground motions from sinkholes, landslides and levee
failures cost millions of dollars and many lives," said Jones.
"When there is small movement prior to a catastrophic collapse,
such subtle precursory clues can be detected by InSAR."
monitors Earth's vital signs from land, air and space with a
fleet of satellites and ambitious airborne and ground-based
observation campaigns. NASA develops new ways to observe and
study Earth's interconnected natural systems with long-term data
records and computer analysis tools to better see how our planet
is changing. The agency shares this unique knowledge with the
global community and works with institutions in the United
States and around the world that contribute to understanding and
protecting our home planet.
Published on 7th March, 2014
preparations begin for Arianespace’s upcoming Soyuz mission with
spacecraft for Europe’s Copernicus Earth observation program –
Sentinel-1A – is now undergoing pre-launch checkout at the
Spaceport, readying it for an April 3 liftoff on Arianespace’s
next Soyuz flight from French Guiana.
is being put through its paces inside the Spaceport’s S1A
payload preparation facility, where the radar satellite was
transported following this week’s arrival in French Guiana
aboard an An-124 cargo jetliner.
initial preparations, Sentinel-1A was removed from its shipping
container in clean room conditions, then raised to a vertical
position for the start-up of processing.
is to deliver essential data for Copernicus, a European Space
Agency (ESA) program in partnership with the European Commission
– which will create a sustainable European satellite network to
collect and evaluate environmental data for civil safety and
Specifically, Sentinel-1A was designed and built by Thales
Alenia Space for environmental tasks that include maritime
surveillance and monitoring of sea ice, oil spills, landslides
and floods. These tasks will assist in reconnaissance and
operational support activities in response to natural disasters,
for which the latest data is required as rapidly as possible.
Sentinel-1B “sister” satellite will be launched a few years
after Sentinel-1A, to improve revisit intervals and allow the
entire planet’s mapping in only six days. Both spacecraft are
based on the Prima platform developed by Thales Alenia Space on
behalf of the Italian space agency, and carry a C-band SAR
(Synthetic Aperture Radar) radar instrument developed by Airbus
Defence and Space that allows Earth imaging through cloud and
rain, in day or night conditions.
programs being developed by ESA within the scope of Copernicus
include five satellite families: Sentinel-1, designed to ensure
the continuity of ERS and Envisat radar data; Sentinel-2 and -3,
dedicated to Earth and ocean monitoring; and Sentinel-4 and -5,
for meteorology and climatology, with a focus on studying the
Earth atmosphere's composition.
upcoming launch will mark Arianespace’s seventh Soyuz mission
from Europe’s Spaceport since the medium-lift vehicle’s 2011
introduction, as well as the company’s third overall flight
conducted from the equatorial launch site in 2014.
Published on 7th March, 2014
therapy shows promise for HIV control without drugs: study
U.S. researchers said Wednesday
they have used gene therapy involving genetically engineered
T- cells to successfully decrease the amount of the AIDS virus
in several patients taken off antiretroviral drug therapy (ADT)
entirely, including one patient whose levels became
The study, published in the U.S.
journal New England Journal of Medicine, is the first
published report of any gene editing approach in humans, the
study shows that we can safely and effectively engineer an HIV
patient's own T cells to mimic a naturally occurring
resistance to the virus, infuse those engineered cells, have
them persist in the body, and potentially keep viral loads at
bay without the use of drugs," senior author Carl June,
professor of the University of Pennsylvania, said in a
reinforces our belief that modified T cells are the key that
could eliminate the need for lifelong ADT and potentially lead
to functionally curative approaches for HIV/AIDS," June said.
study, the researchers used a technology called the zinc
finger nuclease (ZFN) to modify the T cells in 12 patients
with the AIDS virus in order to mimic the CCR5-delta-32
mutation that can provide a natural HIV resistance. Only one
percent of the general population carries that rare mutation.
infused the modified cells known as SB-728-T into two groups
of patients, all treated with single infusions of about 10
billion cells, between May 2009 and July 2012.
taken off antiretroviral therapy altogether for up to 12
weeks, beginning four weeks after infusion, while six patients
remained on treatment.
researchers found that the amount of HIV dropped in four
patients whose treatment was interrupted for 12 weeks.
those patients' viral loads dropped below the limit of
detection before reinstitution of ADT and the patient was
later found to be "heterozygous" for the CCR5-delta-32 gene
mutation, they said.
gives us a better understanding of the mutation and the body's
response to the therapy, opening up another door for study,"
co-author Bruce Levine, associate professor of the University
of Pennsylvania said.
based on the CCR5 mutation have gained steam over the last six
years, particularly after a man known as the Berlin Patient
was "functionally" cured. Diagnosed with acute myeloid
leukemia, the man received a stem cell transplant from a donor
who had the CCR5 mutation and has remained off ADT since 2008.
Published on 7th March, 2014 www.dawnpost.com
belt will save lives during Earth Quakes
A cheap and
easily implemented technology developed at a UK university could
help save lives in earthquakes and make houses safe to live in
after disaster has struck. It's as simple as buckling up.
than a thousand deaths could be prevented every year if
buildings were made to withstand earthquakes. But so far few
developing countries have had access to the often expensive and
complicated technology needed to make buildings
Now a team
at the University of Sheffield in the UK has applied a new
technique in tests where a full-size concrete building was
subjected to similar forces as those seen in the devastating
2010 Haiti earthquake - without it collapsing.
metal belts tightly around a building's concrete columns kept
the material from cracking and collapsing under strain during
strapping works very much like a weightlifter's belt, by keeping
everything tightly compressed to reduce tension on the concrete
columns of the structure," says Professor Kypros Pilakoutas, who
has been heading the research team in Sheffield.
is constantly confined under lateral pressure, so when there is
seismic loading the concrete is not going to open up and crack
and fail," Professor Pilakoutas says.
published in the Journal of Earthquake Engineering, involved
putting a concrete structure through a simulated earthquake on a
specially constructed seismic table, which shakes back and forth
like the ground during a quake. When reinforced with the metal
belts, the concrete would still sway back and forth, but never
not only makes the building stable again very quickly, but it
increases the building's ability to deform without breaking,
making it more able to withstand further earthquake movement,"
damaged or partially collapsed homes safe in the event of
aftershocks would allow people to move back in much quicker.
That would take away many of the risks to health associated with
people would be needed to secure a simple dwelling in a matter
of hours, and the Sheffield researchers estimate the cost per
house to be around 250 euros ($343).
"The most common cause is simply buildings falling on them,"
says Christine Casser. Casser travelled to Bohol as a rescue
volunteer on behalf of Disaster Aid UK, a Rotary
International-linked aid and rescue organization.
she welcomes solutions such as the one developed by the
University of Sheffield to make houses safe in earthquake areas.
absolutely vital, that's the only way you can safeguard people's
lives," says Casser. "One of the challenges we had was getting
aid to the communities that were badly hit, because all the
bridges had been destroyed. So if these techniques could be used
to reinforce bridges, then that would mean more aid could get
through faster - you are literally talking about saving people's
Earthquake-prone regions in the developed world, such as Tokyo
and California, have invested heavily in protecting new and old
buildings from seismic activity.
developing countries often fail to prepare for earthquakes
mainly for two reasons: a lack of money and a tendency to forget
see some damaged buildings in Mexico City. But people just
forget how fragile these buildings are," says Reyes Garcia, a
Mexican PhD student working alongside Professor Pilakoutas at
the University of Sheffield. Mexico City was hit by a magnitude
8.1 earthquake in 1985. The quake killed more than ten thousand
Posted on 28th Feb, 2014
a sustainable smart phone out of blocks
Hakkens' camera stopped working because of a defective part, he
couldn't get it repaired. It wasn't possible to replace the
part, even though the rest of the device still worked just fine.
maddened Hakkens that he decided to revolutionize the
electronics world. For his final-year project at the Design
Academy Eindhoven in the Netherlands he came up with a project
aimed at changing how consumers interact with electronics.
products instead of buying new ones - that's Hakkens' vision.
However, the design concept he developed isn't for cameras: It's
for smart phones. His phone can be assembled out of several
modules, like pieces of Lego - a block for the screen, a block
for the battery, another block for the camera. And depending on
repair needs, and what the consumer wants, the blocks can simply
be expanded or exchanged. Hakkens named his concept Phonebloks.
a computer scientist at Bielefeld University in Germany, says
it's already possible to manufacture a cellphone like this: "But
it doesn't make sense technically," he maintains.
that flexible modules require longer electronic connections,
which would make the phone slower. Also, if every module
requires its own casing, the phone would be thicker, heavier and
also be more expensive. Manufacturers get the individual parts
cheaper because they buy in bulk. With Phonebloks, the
manufacturers require far fewer parts, and that would increase
this, Dave Hakkens' idea seems to have captured the zeitgeist.
The YouTube video in which he explained how the phone works
garnered more than more a million clicks within just 24 hours.
planned to publish the video after a holiday in Greece at the
end of last summer, but it was leaked while he was still on the
beach. With hours, he had received hundreds of emails and calls,
all of which he answered in his swimming trunks. "I wasn't
expecting that," he says.
more than three months since it was published, and the video has
been viewed more than 18.5 million times - a massive success.
wanted to reach even more people, and appealed for people to
support his idea by sharing it on social networks. He doesn't
plan to manufacture Phonebloks himself. "It's a vision," he
explained. "It's about showing companies that lots of people
want a phone like this. They have to create one!"
By the end
of October, more than 900,000 people around the world had shared
Hakkens' idea. The numbers succeeded in impressing phone
companies - including Motorola. Thirty years ago, the US-based
firm created one of the very first cellphones. In 2012, Motorola
was bought by Google.
and Hakkens have teamed up to work on a commercially-viable
cellphone - together with the Phonebloks online community. Ideas
are exchanged and developed on an
online platform, which is also used to communicate the
current status of the project. Motorola wants to use the
eco-friendly idea in order to re-establish itself as a major
smart phone manufacturer.
Posted on 28th Feb, 2014
holes blow stronger winds than previously thought: study
can release more energy into the galaxies they live in than
previously thought, a new study said Thursday.
discovery, published in the U.S. journal Science, will help
astronomers better model the evolution of black holes over time,
and it will also help them better understand how these
mysterious regions affect their host galaxies.
are places in space where gravity pulls so much that even light
cannot get out.
grow when gas in space flows or accretes onto them. The gas
inside gets so hot it emits radiation.
a theory of physics called the Eddington limit, the amount of
radiation flowing outward from a black hole cannot exceed a
certain limit or it will blow the inflowing gas away. The limit
is based on the black hole's mass.
whether a black hole's kinetic energy, in the form of jets and
winds, is controlled by the same limit has been unclear.
To shed some
light on the matter, scientists led by Roberto Soria of
Australia's Curtin University used telescopes to study the
outflow of a black hole in galaxy M83 for more than a year.
the gas flowing into the black hole, they figured out the black
hole's weight as less than 100 times that of the Sun.
researchers compared the mass of the black hole with its
outgoing kinetic power, which they were able to infer in part by
looking at the light around it.
power flowing out of the black hole was higher than the
Eddington limit for a black hole of this mass, the researchers
results demonstrate that black holes can "inject more energy
into the surrounding medium than would be inferred based on
their Eddington limits," the researchers wrote in their paper.
existence of super-Eddington mechanical power is important for
the modeling of jet production mechanisms, as well as the
evolution of fast-growing supermassive BHs (black holes) in the
early universe, and their effect on their host galaxies," they
Posted on 28th Feb, 2014
Man itself is
the largest Technology Museum (Rana Muhammad