Coordinated bombings kill 21, wound 113 in Mumbai


Coordinated bombings kill 21, wound 113 in Mumbai

APBy MUNEEZA NAQVI – Associated Press,RAJESH SHAH – Associated Press | AP – 6 hrs ago

  • Police officers inspect the site of an explosion at Dadar in Mumbai, India, Wednesday, July 13, 2011. Three explosions rocked India's busy financial capital at rush-hour Wednesday, killing at least eight people and injuring 70 in what officials described as another terror strike on the city hit by militants nearly three years ago. (AP Photo/Rajanish Kakade)

    Police officers inspect the site of an explosion at Dadar in Mumbai, India, Wednesday, July 13, 2011. Three explosions …

    MUMBAI, India (AP) — Three coordinated bombings tore through the heart of India’s busy financial capital during rush hour Wednesday, killing 21 people in the worst terror attack in the country since the 2008 Mumbai siege. The attacks came just months after peace talks resumed between India and Pakistan, which New Delhi has blamed for past attacks.

     

    Blood-covered bodies lay on Mumbai streets and people hugged and wept. Others carried the wounded to taxis. Crowds gathered in the blast areas as police questioned witnesses, and bomb squads inspected the undercarriages of vehicles searching for clues and other explosives.

    Motorcycles were charred, shopfronts shattered and a bus stop ripped apart. Bleeding victims crowded into the back of a cargo truck to be taken to a hospital.

    The first blast struck the Jhaveri Bazaar at 6:54 p.m., tearing through the famed jewelry market. A minute later, a blast hit the busy business district of Opera House, several miles (kilometers) away in southern Mumbai. At 7:05 p.m., the third bomb exploded in the crowded neighborhood of Dadar in central Mumbai, according to police.

    Because of the close timing of the blasts, “we infer that this was a coordinated attack by terrorists,” Home Minister Palaniappan Chidambaram said, adding that Mumbai was put on high alert.

    Prime Minister Manmohan Singh condemned the blasts and appealed to the people of Mumbai “to remain calm and show a united face.”

    Indian officials refused to speculate on who might be behind the blasts. Past attacks have been blamed on Pakistan-based militants, and Indian officials have accused Pakistan’s powerful spy agency of helping coordinate and fund some of those strikes, including the Mumbai siege.

    Pakistan’s government expressed distress on the loss of lives and injuries soon after Wednesday’s blasts were reported.

    A U.S. official said there are no claims of responsibility, or firm indication of which terrorist group might be behind the attack yet. The official spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss matters of intelligence.

    U.S. President Barack Obama also condemned the “outrageous attacks.”

    “The American people will stand with the Indian people in times of trial, and we will offer support to India’s efforts to bring the perpetrators of these terrible crimes to justice,” he said in a statement. “I have no doubt that India will overcome these deplorable terrorist attacks.”

    Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said she will go ahead with her plans to visit India next week despite the bombings. Standing with India “is more important than ever,” she said.

    Wreckage of motorbikes lie at the site of a bomb explosion outside Opera House in Mumbai, India, Wednesday, July 13, 2011. Three explosions rocked India's busy financial capital at rush-hour Wednesday, killing at least eight people and injuring 70 in what officials described as another terror strike on the city hit by militants nearly three years ago. (AP Photo) INDIA OUT

    At the site of the first bombing, Jhaveri Bazaar, a witness described two motorcycles exploding in flames and saw at least six bodies.

    “People were shouting ‘Help me, help me,'” the man told Headlines Today television.

    Another witness showed cell phone video of several bodies sprawled across the street to the NDTV news station.

    Prithviraj Chavan, the top official in the state of Maharashtra, where Mumbai is located, said the blasts killed 21 people and wounded 113 others.

    “India is not going to cow down,” Cabinet minister Farooq Abdullah said. “Let those perpetrators of this terror remember, we will find them and Inshallah (God willing) we will give them the justice that India believes in.”

    The blasts marked the first major attack on Mumbai since 10 militants laid siege to India’s financial capital for 60 hours in November 2008.

    That attack, which targeted two luxury hotels, a Jewish center and a busy train station, killed 166 people and escalated tensions between India and Pakistan. Peace talks were suspended and resumed only recently.

    Some media incorrectly reported the blasts happened on the birthday of Ajmal Kasab, the only surviving gunmen from the 2008 Mumbai attacks. Kasab, who was sentenced to death in Mumbai, was born on Sept. 13.

    The city has been on edge since the 2008 attack. In December, authorities deployed extra police on city streets after receiving intelligence that a Pakistan-based militant group was planning an attack over New Year’s weekend. Police conducted house-to-house searches in some neighborhoods for four men who authorities believe entered the city to carry out a terrorist attack, and computer-aided photographs of the four suspects were released.

    In March 2010, Mumbai police said they prevented a major terrorist strike after they arrested two Indian men, who, police said, were preparing to hit several targets in the city. In September, police issued a terror alert for the city during a popular Hindu festival.

    ___

    Naqvi reported from New Delhi. Associated Press writers Ravi Nessman in New Delhi and Kimberly Dozier in Washington contributed to this report.

Two photos, thirty years apart, move the Web


Two photos, thirty years apart, move the Web

 By Claudine Zap | The Upshot – Tue, Jul 12, 2011

Thirty years ago, the first space shuttle launched into the stratosphere. Chris Bray and his father Kenneth watched — and took a picture. Then last Friday, the shuttle Atlantis took its final trip. Again, the Bray men were there. And again, the two snapped a photo to capture the moment.

The side-by-side photos, which are up on Chris Bray’s Flickr photostream, immediately went viral on the Web.

The first shot shows 13-year-old Chris with then 39-year-old dad looking through binoculars at thespace shuttle Columbia‘s first launch on April 12, 1981, from the Kennedy Space Center.

The second snap comes three decades later and recreates the same moment at the last shuttle voyage. The young son is now an adult. His father is now gray-haired.

Chris Bray wrote on his Flickr page of the side-by-side images: “The picture we waited 30 years to complete.”

The younger Bray told the Washington Post, “We’ve always loved that first photo. Taking a similar one for the last launch seemed like the perfect opportunity to celebrate the shuttle program and our relationship by putting the time passed in perspective, celebrating the interests we share, and illustrating the father/son bond we’ve maintained over the years.”

The Brays’ photo touched a chord of nostalgia in many rocket enthusiasts, and the pic has been viewed on Flickr an astronomical 510,000 times.

Comments on the pictures commend the melding of the personal with the historical. Says one: “Epic. To be able to share in something so wonderful with your dad, both beginning and end. I am jealous — both that you watched not only the first but also the last mission — but also that you did it with your father.”

Another fan of the photo who used to work on the space program wrote in, “Everyone I used to work [with in the shuttle program] thinks it’s so cool, [they] get chills.”

Chris Bray responded in an email that he was overwhelmed by the response: “I was surprised.  The picture had a lot of significance for me and my father, but we didn’t expect that the photo would touch so many other people.” He added,  ” The moment has stayed with me since that day, and is one of my fondest memories and childhood experiences.”

 

Lost statue of Roman emperor Caligula unveiled


Lost statue of Roman emperor Caligula unveiled

ReutersBy Paul Casciato | Reuters – 10 hrs ago

Guardia di Finanza police officers inspect a statue believed to be that of Roman emperor Caligula in Nemi, north of Rome in this January 2011 handout photo.

Guardia di Finanza police officers inspect a statue believed to be that of Roman emperor Caligula in Nemi, north of Rome in this January 2011 handout photo.

ROME (Reuters Life!) – Officials on Tuesday unveiled a massive statue believed to be that of Roman emperor Caligula sitting on a throne and said it came from an illegal dig south of Rome that may have been the site of one of his palaces.

The statue, which had been broken in several large pieces and a head, was first found last January when Finance Police stopped it from being smuggled out of the country by boat at a port near Rome.

The operation led to the arrest of two so-called “tomb raiders” — those who dig up the countryside looking for archaeological treasures to sell on the black market.

Guardia di Finanza police officers inspect a statue believed to be that of Roman emperor Caligula in Nemi, north of Rome in this January 2011 handout photo.

But more importantly, the arrests led police to the site near Lake Nemi, just south of Rome, where Caligula was believed to have had one of his imperial residences.

The statue, now cleaned of the earth that had covered it for 2,000 years, shows parts of a robed man sitting on an elaborate throne like the Greek god Zeus.

Significantly, it shows a man wearing a “caliga,” shoes worn by Roman legionaries and from where the emperor got the name by which he is known. His real name was Gaius Julius Caesar AugustusGermanicus.

Caligula, who reigned from 37 to 41 A.D., has gone down in history as a crazed and power-hungry sex maniac who demanded that his horse, Incitatus, be made a consul.

(Editing by Paul Casciato)

Huge Underwater Volcanoes Discovered Near Antarctica


Huge Underwater Volcanoes Discovered Near Antarctica

LiveScience.comBy Andrea Mustain
LiveScience.com | LiveScience.com – 11 hrs ago
Antarctic ice island with real group of  penguins (ThinkStock)

A string of a dozen volcanoes, at least several of them active, has been found beneath the frigid seas near Antarctica, the first such discovery in that region.

Some of the peaks tower nearly 10,000 feet (3,000 meters) above the ocean floor — nearly tall enough to break the water’s surface.

“That’s a big volcano. That’s a very big volcano. If that was on land it would be quite remarkable,” said Philip Leat, a vulcanologist with the British Antarctic Survey who led a seafloor mapping expedition to the region in 2007 and 2010.

The group of 12 underwater mountains lies south of the South Sandwich Islands — desolate, ice-covered volcanoes that rise above the southern Atlantic Ocean about halfway between South America and South Africa and erupted as recently as 2008. It’s the first time such a large number of undersea volcanoes has been found together in the Antarctic region.

Leat said the survey team was somewhat surprised by the find.

“We knew there were other volcanoes in the area, but we didn’t go trying to find volcanoes,” Leat told OurAmazingPlanet. “We just went because there was a big blank area on the map and we had no idea what was there; we just wanted to fill in the seafloor.”

Seafloor surprise

The team did so, thanks to ship-borne seafloor mapping technology, and not without a few hair-raising adventures.

Leat said the images of the seafloor appear before your eyes on screens as the ship moves through the water. “So it’s very exciting,” he said. “You go along and suddenly you see the bottom start to rise up underneath you, and you don’t know how shallow it’s going to get.”

At one point, in the dead of night, the team encountered a volcano so large it looked as though the RRS James Clark Ross, the team’s research vessel, might actually crash into the hidden summit. “It was quite frightening, actually,” Leat said.

The researchers stopped the ship and decided to return in daylight. The onboard instruments revealed that some of the peaks rise within 160 feet (50 meters) of the ocean’s surface. [Related: The World’s Biggest Oceans and Seas]

Volcanoes confirmed

Though the peaks are largely invisible without the aid of 3-D mapping technology, scientists can tell they’re volcanoes.

Leat said their conelike silhouette is a dead giveaway. “There’s no other way of getting that shape on the seafloor,” he said. In addition, the researchers dredged up rocky material from several peaks and found it rife with volcanic ash, lumps of pumice and black lava.

The find backed up reports from a ship that visited the area in 1962, which indicated a hidden volcano had erupted in the region.

Leat’s biologist colleagues discovered some interesting creatures living in the hot-spring-like conditionsnear the underwater mountains, and news on that will be forthcoming, Leat said.

Despite the frozen, isolated conditions, Leat said the expeditions were far from boring. Quite the opposite, in fact. Each moment, a hidden world never before seen by humans unfolded before their eyes.

“It’s amazing,” Leat said, “and you can hardly go to bed at night because you want to see what’s happening.”

Andrea Mustain is a staff writer for OurAmazingPlanet, a sister site to LiveScience. Reach her atamustain@techmedianetwork.com. Follow her on Twitter @AndreaMustain.

How the Sun’s 11-Year Solar Cycle Works


How the Sun’s 11-Year Solar Cycle Works

By Denise Chow, SPACE.com Staff Writer
15 June 2011 1:38 PM ET

The sun may be 93 million miles (149 million kilometers) away from Earth, but commotions on our nearest star have consequences much closer to home, which is why scientists have a keen interest in studying changes in the sun’s activity.

The sun’s temper varies on an 11-year cycle, typically taking about 5 1/2 years to move from the quieter period of solar minimum, to the more turbulent solar maximum.

One of the ways solar physicists monitor the solar cycle is by studying the surface of the sun for dark splotches called sunspots. These short-lived patches are caused by intense magnetic activity and tend to cluster in bands at mid-latitudes above and below the equator. The frequency and number of these mysterious dark spots on the solar surface act as indicators of the sun’s activity as it moves between solar minimum and maximum. [Photos: Sunspots on Earth’s Star]

Sunspots sometimes erupt into powerful solar storms that shoot streams of charged particles into space, occasionally in the direction of Earth. Some powerful solar storms can bombard Earth’s magnetic field and disrupt power grids or knock out satellites in orbit around the planet.

As the sun reaches the end of a cycle, new sunspots appear near the equator, and a new cycle begins with the production of sunspots at higher latitudes on the surface of the sun.

Since telescopes were invented, a census of sunspots has been relatively constant. In 1849, astronomers at the Zurich Observatory began observing and counting sunspots on a daily basis. Today, the Solar Influence Data Analysis Center in Belgium and the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration closely monitor sunspot activity.

A number of satellites and observatories, including NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO), collect a constant stream of data from the sun, and act as an early-warning system for major space weather events.

Currently, the sun is in the midst of Cycle 24, and the star is swelling toward a maximum in 2013. An extremely long stretch of subdued activity in recent years puzzled astronomers, and many solar physicists are working on developing better forecasting models of the solar cycle.

And while the sun appears to be ramping up activity as it heads into the solar maximum, several new studies are predicting that after this peak, the sun’s activity could see a significant drop in Cycle 25.

The findings of three new and separate studies that examined fading sunspots, a missing solar jet stream and the strength of the sun’s magnetic field, show that even as the current sunspot cycle gears up, activity during the next 11-year cycle could be greatly reduced, or even eliminated.

You can follow SPACE.com Staff Writer Denise Chow on Twitter @denisechow. Follow SPACE.com for the latest in space science and exploration news on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Facebook.

 

How Many Genetic Mutations Do I Have?


How Many Genetic Mutations Do I Have?

By Natalie Wolchover, Life’s Little Mysteries Staff Writer
16 June 2011 11:02 AM ET
 

Still from the 2009 film ‘X-Men Origins: Wolverine’ starring Hugh Jackman (pictured). Credit: Twentieth Century Fox

When parents pass their genes down to their children, an average of 60 errors are introduced to the genetic code in the process, according to a new study. Any of those five dozen mutations could be the source of major differences in a person’s appearance or behavior as compared to his or her parents — and altogether, the mistakes are the driving force of evolution.

Sixty mutations may sound like a lot, but according to the international team of geneticists behind the new research, it is actually fewer than expected. “We had previously estimated that parents would contribute an average of 100 to 200 mistakes to their child,” Philip Awadalla, a geneticist at the University of Montreal who co-led the project, said in a press release. “Our genetic study, the first of its kind, shows that actually much fewer mistakes, or mutations, are made.”

That means human evolution happens more slowly than they previously thought.

The researchers analyzed the complete genetic sequences of two families that had previously been collected as part of the 1,000 Genomes Project. They looked for new mutations present in the children’s DNA that were absent from their parents’ genomes. “Like very small needles in a very large haystack,” Awadalla said, there was only one new mutation in every 100 million letters of DNA. [Read: How to Speak Genetics]

The number of mutations that came from each parent was drastically different in the two different families. In one family, 92 percent of the mutations in the child’s genes derived from the father, whereas in the other family, 64 percent came from the mother.

“This was a surprise: many people expected that in all families, most mutations would come from the father, due to the additional number of times that the genome needs to be copied to make a sperm, as opposed to an egg,” said Matt Hurles, of the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute in the U.K. More work must be done to explain the disparity.

The new techniques and algorithms developed for the research, which is detailed in the latest issue of Nature Genetics, can be used in the future to answer additional questions. For example, how does a parent’s age affect the number of mutations passed to his or her offspring? How do their various environmental exposures impact mutation rates?

Geneticists will find out by comparing the number of new mutations in the children born to parents of different ages and life experiences.

This lost continent off the coast of Scotland disappeared beneath the ocean 55 million years ago


By Annalee Newitz

This lost continent off the coast of Scotland disappeared beneath the ocean 55 million years ago

 

This lost continent off the coast of Scotland disappeared beneath the ocean 55 million years ago

This week, a group of geologists report that they’ve found a lost continent off the coast of Scotland. 55 million years ago, about 10 million years after dinosaurs died out, a chunk of the seafloor erupted from beneath the water. It created a small continent that existed for at least a million years, covered in dramatic mountains and valleys, and irrigated with streaming rivers. Eventually the landscape sank back beneath the waves, its once-sunny mountains buried beneath 2 kilometers of seabed.

How did this happen? The answer reveals that our planet is even more dangerous and magnificent than we knew.

In Nature Geoscience, Earth scientist Ross A. Hartley and colleagues describe their discovery, and offer some theories about how an entire continent could rise and fall in a million years — a brief moment in geological time. Above, you can see the image they created of part of the continent, including its coastline and a mountain whose slopes were deeply cut by rivers. Write Hartley and his team:

This image was constructed from sound waves which are bounced off different rock layers at depth. An ancient meandering riverbed can easily be seen.

They found this lost continent after using sound waves to map a volume of 10,000 square kilometers on the northwest continental shelf of Europe. Based on the weathering of rocks the researchers studied beneath the waves, it’s clear that a huge chunk of the seafloor was once above water, being eroded by wind and sun.

So how did it happen? Hartley and colleagues suggest that this continent rose out of the water on what some geologists call a “thermal anomaly,” and others call a “mantle plume.” You could also call it a giant explosion inside the Earth. Basically, as you can see in the image at left, superheated rock in the Earth’s mantle (near the core of the planet) can sometimes create giant plumes of heat that push to the surface of the planet. When this happens, radical disruptions can occur — such as huge chunks of the seafloor rising suddenly above the surface of the ocean. And that’s what probably created this short-lived landmass.

This is the sort of thing that could only happen on Earth. Our planet has the unique feature of being both hard and soft at the same time: On the surface of Earth, we have several vast chunks of hard crust, the continental plates, floating atop a rapidly-churning layer of superheated liquid rock. And sometimes, the superheated liquid rock spurts up out of cracks between the hard crusts, creating your thermal anomalies, volcanoes, and other disaster movie scenarios.

But this mystery continent was part of a disaster even bigger than a giant volcano. It appeared during the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum, or the most recent period of global warming in Earth’s history. It was a time possibly much like ours, when the atmosphere was full of carbon and the temperature was going up. Scientists have long wondered what caused this ancient period of global warming, and this thermal anomaly may help answer that question.

This lost continent off the coast of Scotland disappeared beneath the ocean 55 million years ago

Here you can see a map of the Icelandic Plume, which is probably what set this weird geological story in motion. Commenting on the discovery of the lost continent, Earth scientist Phillip A. Allen explains how it could be connected to global warming:

Intriguingly, the timing of formation of the ancient landscape west of the Orkney–Shetland Islands coincides with a global climatic event known as the Palaeocene–Eocene Thermal Maximum – a period of rapid and extreme global warming. Triggers of this climatic event are unclear, but could be linked to the release of large quantities of methane stored in sediments on the sea bed. Uplift of the sea bed would have caused the methane stored in the ocean floor to become unstable, triggering its release into the atmosphere. Pulses of hot mantle rising up in the Iceland mantle plume therefore provide a viable mechanism to elevate the sea floor at this time. Furthermore, about 33–34 million years ago, the climate suddenly cooled causing the planet to undergo a transition from a greenhouse to an icehouse world. This climatic change has been linked to periods when activity in the Iceland plume was suppressed, causing the sea bed between Iceland and Greenland to subside.

In other words, this thermal anomaly sent a plume of superheated rock to the Earth’s surface, warming the waters and thawing the methane beneath them. Our lost continent rose to the surface as greenhouse gases filled the atmosphere, making the birth of this landmass into a veritable environmental apocalypse.

Scientists are trying to understand when such an event might happen again, and what we can learn from it that might help us deal with climate change today. Meanwhile, I wait for the disaster movie version of this scenario from Earth’s past, which will hopefully include references to Atlantis and ancient alien civilizations.

Read the full scientific paper via Nature Geoscience