USGS issues updated quake maps


Forty-two states “have a reasonable chance of experiencing damaging ground shaking from an earthquake in 50 years,” according to the USGS updated National Seismic Hazard Maps, and 16 of those states are at high risk.

Illinois and Missouri (in the New Madrid Seismic Zone) and South Carolina may be in for a shocker:




h/t National Geographic’s Daily News




Close encounter of the Apollo 11 kind


The second astronaut to take “one small step” on the moon has described on reddit the “magnificent desolation” he felt in space and the “unidentified” light he observed outside the lunar module.

Buzz Aldrin, who calls himself “a global space statesman,” is promoting a YouTube channel that seeks your story about the Apollo 11 moon landing. The 45th anniversary of the “giant leap for mankind” will  take place July 20.

During a reddit Q&A this week, newbie12q asked the astronaut: “Do you believe in aliens and what are the sightings you saw aboard Apollo 11?” Continue reading


X-ray signal tantalizes astronomers


A giant collection of galaxies immersed in hot gas about 250 million light years from Earth.In the Perseus Cluster, a mysterious signal. The cluster contains thousands of galaxies immersed in an enormous cloud of superheated gas.

ET is not on the phone. But nonetheless scientists are excited about a “mysterious” X-ray signal found when a team sifted through old data from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory and the European Space Agency’s XMM-Newton.

Astronomers think it might be evidence of sterile neutrinos — dark matter, that stuff that makes up about  85% of the Universe, but does not emit or absorb light.

“We know that the dark matter explanation is a long shot, but the pay-off would be huge if we’re right,” says Esra Bulbul of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics,  who led the study. “So we’re going to keep testing this interpretation and see where it takes us.”

A paper explaining the research is published in the Astrophysical Journal.

You  can read more here.


The crowded skies: Bacteria don’t give airplane passengers elbow room


Turbulence, the TSA and towering airfares are the least you have to worry about on your next flight, according to a study presented at the American Society for Microbiology.

Disease-causing bacteria are the unseen hijackers of airliners, sticking to cabin surfaces for as long as a week. Continue reading


Yikes! W.Pa. prominent in landslide map


CourtesyofNationalGeographicOur region’s clay and shale layer perform poorly during heavy rain and can make our hillsides take a tumble, according to National Geographic, which used data collected by NASA’s Global Landslide Catalog to plot landslides from 2007 to 2013.

The good news, as Adam Smeltz noted in the Trib this month, is that experts say the landslides here are unlikely to be catastrophic.

To click on NG’s map, go here.

SOURCE: DALIA B. KIRSCHBAUM, GLOBAL LANDSLIDE CATALOG (GLC), NASA; Data Copyright © 2014 United States Government as represented by the Administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. All Rights Reserved. Note: GLC does not represent a comprehensive list of landslides; it helps identify significant location and time patterns.


Cold War II: NASA breaks contact with Russians


Today, Michael F. O’Brien, NASA’s associate administrator for international and interagency relations, informed his colleagues in an internal memo that the U.S. space agency was taking a stand on Ukraine and would suspend all contact with Russian “entities” with the exception of the International Space Station, SpaceRef reports.

We can’t break ties with the Space Station; we’ve got two astronauts up there now, and the only way to get them down is via a Soyuz spacecraft. Continue reading


Time-lapse video: Fireflies turn Ozarks into enchanted forest


“Is there anything cooler than firefly light reflecting in still-water?”  asks Vincent Brady, a photographer who used “every trick” for his first “whole-hog” time-lapse video.

He shot the footage at Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri, where his family gathers, and around Grand Ledge, Mich., his hometown.

“We call them fireflies or lightning bugs, but they aren’t a fly or a bug,” Brady notes on his website. “They are beetles, and there’s over a 1,000 different species of them.”

You can visit Brady’s Facebook page here.

h/t Smithsonian’s SmartNews