Thursday, March 26, 2009

28 dead after dam bursts in Indonesia

Heavy rains broke a dam in Indonesia's capital Friday, sending water rushing into hundreds of homes and killing at least 28 people, a government official said.

The dam broke early Friday in southern Jakarta and rescuers were scrambling to save people from the floodwaters, said Mardjito of Indonesia's social affairs ministry.

People fled to the rooftops of their homes and were waiting to be rescued, said Mardjito, who goes by one name.

"Eighteen people are dead so far, but we can expect more, since most of the houses are covered by muds. We're still trying to get into the houses, but the problem is, muds are getting in our way," the official said.

Many family members frantically tried to find their missing loved ones.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Earth's Crust Melts Easier Than Thought

Earth's crust melts easier than previously thought, scientists have discovered.

In a paper published in this week's issue of the journal Nature, geologists report results of a study of how well rocks conduct heat at different temperatures. They found that as rocks get hotter in Earth's crust, they become better insulators and poorer conductors.

The findings provide insights into how magmas are formed, the scientists say, and will lead to better models of continental collision and the formation of mountain belts.

"These results shed important light on a geologic question: how large bodies of granite magma can be formed in Earth's crust," said Sonia Esperanca, a program director in the National Science Foundation (NSF)'s Division of Earth Sciences, which funded the research.

"In the presence of external heat sources, rocks heat up more efficiently than previously thought," said geologist Alan Whittington of the University of Missouri. "We applied our findings to computer models that predict what happens to rocks when they get buried and heat up in mountain belts, such as the Himalayas today or the Black Hills in South Dakota in the geologic past.

"We found that strain heating, caused by tectonic movements during mountain belt formation, easily triggers crustal melting."

In the study, the researchers used a laser-based technique to determine how long it took heat to conduct through different rock samples. In all their samples, thermal diffusivity, or how well a material conducts heat, decreased rapidly with increasing temperatures.

The thermal diffusivity of hot rocks and magmas was half that of what had been previously assumed.

"Most crustal melting on Earth comes from intrusions of hot basaltic magma from the Earth's mantle," said Peter Nabelek, also a geologist at the University of Missouri. "The problem is that during continental collisions, we don't see intrusions of basaltic magma into continental crust."

These experiments suggest that because of low thermal diffusivity, strain heating is much faster and more efficient. Once rocks get heated, they stay hotter for much longer, Nabelek said.

The processes take millions of years to happen, and scientists can only simulate them on a computer. The new data will allow them to create computer models that more accurately represent processes that occur during continental collisions.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

NASA Launches 'Eyes on the Earth 3-D'

New interactive features on NASA's Global Climate Change give the public the opportunity to "fly along" with NASA's fleet of Earth science missions and observe Earth from a global perspective in an immersive, 3-D environment.

Developed using a state-of-the-art, browser-based visualization technology, "Eyes on the Earth 3-D" displays the location of all of NASA's 15 currently operating Earth-observing missions in real time. These missions constantly monitor our planet's vital signs, such as sea level height, concentration of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere, global temperatures and extent of sea ice in the Arctic, to name a few.

Visitors to "Eyes on the Earth 3-D" can: - Ride along with a spacecraft, observing Earth as it sweeps below in accelerated time. - View authentic data maps of ozone, sea level or carbon dioxide distribution, mapped onto the surface of the globe. - Compare the size of each satellite to a car or a scientist. - Blast through a global carbon dioxide map to uncover some of the world's most populous cities in the new interactive game, "Metropolis."

"This innovative new Web application gives the public an unprecedented perspective on our changing planet, as only NASA can," said Michael Greene, manager for public engagement strategy at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Turning the Camera Towards Tasmania

The Minister for Tourism, Michelle O’Byrne, has addressed the San Francisco Art Institute as part of a collaborative presentation by Tourism Tasmania and Adobe Lightroom Adventure, to raise awareness of Tasmania as a destination for artists.

Hosted by award-winning photographer and best-selling author Mikkel Aaland from digital media publisher O’Reilly Media, the event was part of Tourism Tasmania’s G’DAY USA 2009 activities.

Speaking after the presentation at the prestigious education institution, Ms O’Byrne said Tourism Tasmania’s partnership with Mr Aaland and the software giant, Adobe, began in January last year at G’DAY USA 2008 and resulted in O’Reilly Media bringing the 2008 Adobe Lightroom Adventure to Tasmania in April.

“Over a 10-day period, 17 of the world’s best photographers took Adobe’s new Lightroom 2.0 software for a ‘hands-on’ road test through Tasmania’s iconic locations.

“The resulting book, Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 2 Adventure, featured stunning photographic images and stories from the journey, and went on sale in October.

In his address, Mr Aaland discussed his craft and his recent trip to Tasmania, telling the audience how this visit influenced his work, presenting photographs and stories from the Adobe Lightroom Adventure Tasmania 2008.

Ms O’Byrne said her speech was an opportunity to introduce the targeted audience to Arts Tasmania’s Artists Residency Program.

“This innovative program provides American artists with the opportunity to explore Tasmania as part of a program of artist residencies, and I encouraged the students to apply.

“Attendees were further encouraged to visit Tasmania through special travel packages tailored specifically towards photography buffs, and provided in partnership with US-based organisation “The Adventure Travel Company.”

Ms O’Byrne said more than 70 students and staff members attended the lecture, drawn in not only by famed photographer Mikkel Aaland, but also a variety of pre-event promotion and Tasmanian themed giveaways at the event itself.

“I was also pleased to present SFAI with a donation of photographic equipment on behalf of the Tasmanian Government.

“At G’DAY USA 2009, the Tasmanian delegation has been emphasising that our State is more than just a holiday destination – it is a place where you can have a enriching and transforming experience and is full of wonderful artistic opportunities,” she said.

G’DAY USA is a two-week spotlight on Australia, presented by the Australia Week Committee, with a diverse program of activities and events showcasing the very best of Australian culture, fashion, food, wine, tourism and business .

G’DAY USA 2009 runs from 13-24 January 2009 with events in Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York.