Storms are a Brewin’ — Solar Storms that is

I’ve been warning about coming interruptions in our power and communications infrastructures for years now.  As a Ham Radio Operator I’m well aware of solar cycles, including the prominent 11-to-12-year cycle, and their impact on the environment (although Al Gore doesn’t seem to take them into account).  Well, now the storms are starting to hit, and it’s going to get worse.

Newsmax is reporting that “The magnetic storm that is soon to develop probably will be in the moderate to strong level,” said Joseph Kunches, a space weather scientist at the Space Weather Prediction Center, a division of the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

We’ve seen the power grid knocked off-line, communications satellites completely disabled by these types of storms before and now our dependence upon specialized GPS satellites is higher than ever.  Top that off with our GPS satellites already starting to fail, and we could have some real troubles soon.

The National Research Council has reported that a storm of similar magnitude to one which hit in 1859 could cause more than $2 trillion in damage world-wide as it burns out everything electronic from Satellites through computers, along with our communications and power distribution systems.

The first of the three solar explosions from the sun this week already passed the Earth on Thursday with little impact, Kunches said, noting, the second was passing the Earth now and “seems to be stronger.”

And the third, he said, “We’ll have to see what happens over the next few days. It could exacerbate the disturbance in the Earth’s magnetic field caused by the second (storm) or do nothing at all.”

The peak of this solar cycle’s activity is expected in 2013.  Hold onto your smartphones, this could be a rough ride.

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Space Camps for Corporations, Adults and Children

The Space Shuttle Discovery and its seven-memb...

There are now Space Camp programs for Children, Adults and even for Corporate events. Children will learn more about space, space shuttle, robotics, mars etc in these camp programs. These programs enhance teamwork, self-confidence and communication and these will be achieved through state-of-the-art simulations, missions, rocket building and robotics.  For scholarship, photo gallery, international camps, and more information about these camps, visit

Participants will have three fields of specialized study (or track options) to choose from: Aviation, Space, and Robotics tracks.

Aviation Track

Kids will learn flight dynamics, wilderness survival, teamwork, and spend time in high-performance jet fighter simulators. They learn all the skills that an American fighter pilots use to rule the skies.

What makes an airplane fly? It’ll teach them the principles of flight, not in the classroom, but standing next to an F-16 or F-14 planes!

Space Track

In addition to a Shuttle Mission, space track campers go through extensive Mars training to prepare for interplanetary travel. They will learn about the planet, its soil, geology, climate and atmosphere. They will also receive crew assignments, and set ready to go!

Settle into your new home – Mars Outpost – Alpha Station. Explore the surface of Mars. Conduct experiments on the soil and rocks collected, as well as keeping everything on board the Mars Outpost running smoothly. Once the mission is complete, it is time to head home to Earth.

Robotics Track

Kids will learn how to rescue astronauts from the International Space Station! 10 hours of designing and programming a robot using LEGO Mindstorm software and materials.

Kids form team of four to five and create the ultimate robotic rover, using an unlimited array of gears, pulleys, sensors, and other parts. Then they program the robot to perform tasks at the ISS using the latest computer software. They test their creations and compete with other groups to save stranded astronauts and deliver supplies to the space station.

There are 10 space programs to choose depending on your age. All the below mentioned programs follow the above three tracks.

Space Camp program duration is 3 – 6 days. It uses space to excite and educate children ages 9-11 in the fields of math, science and technology. In space camp, everything you will learn about Space Shuttle Systems and life aboard the Orbiter and Space Station. Kids can try out space food, learn to sleep in space and even how to go to the bathroom in space! To know more about the program, click here.

Space Academy is an increased intensity program of astronaut and mission training and academics. Simulated missions to a space station and crew rotation highlight the week. Trainees who want to be Astronauts must learn to think like astronauts and our Space Academy Programs are designed to do just that! This program is kids aged 12 – 14 and length of this program is 6-day and 8-day. Trainees will participate in Shuttle Missions, Space Simulators, build & launch rockets and sample space food. To know more about the program, click here. Participants will go through Team-Building skills, Space Simulators Training and Space Shuttle Mission Training activities which are part of this program.

Advanced Space Academy is for ages 15 – 18 and offers programs for 6-day and 8-day. During this week-long program, trainees get hands-on training, as well as learn about the mental, emotional and physical demands astronauts must face. Fields of study include Engineering, Space Technology and Aerospace Science. The Advanced Space Academy program is a college-accredited program through the University of Alabama-Huntsville (UAH). All Advanced Space Academy participants will earn one hour of Freshman-level general science credit from UAH. For details on activities and tracks, click here. Choose your path of study from one of the racks listed below.

  • Pilot Track Trainees will take command of an orbiter on its mission to the International Space Station. A pilot will follow the checklist procedures of a mission and be required to make emergency decisions while monitoring and commanding the crew.
  • Pilot SCUBA Track Trainees will continue to command or pilot an orbiter and learn Aerospace Science as their core basis for training, but instead of flying the Flight Simulators at Aviation Challenge, they will SCUBA dive in the UAT SCUBA tank.
  • Mission Specialist Track Trainees will be instructed in the engineering and design of the shuttle and space station. Repairs to either will be conducted in the UAT SCUBA Tank creating and accurate environment for the space walk.

Parent / Child program is designed to give both of you an overview of space exploration, while experience very real space simulations. Parent Child Space Camp is a weekend for just the two of you, providing the opportunity to become partners in learning. 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 and lift off! Watch the rocket that you and your child built together soar. Share the pride that your child will feel while manoeuvring the orbiter through space. What better way to build a lasting relationship than through Parent Child Space Camp?

Get ready for a weekend of non-stop activities. Together, you and your child will explore the history – present and future – of space flight. You will also experience the excitement of being there while watching an IMAX movie! See Shuttle astronauts perform missions in space, ride along as Aviators throttle up, or explore the surface of mars.

Participants also get a packet of exciting activities to explore scientific concepts at home. Click here for details on Parent/Child Program activities.

Adult Programs will put your skills, abilities and talents to the test in training simulators and simulated missions. Experience four G’s of force when you blast off 140 feet on SPACE SHOT. Feel what it’s like to walk on the moon in the 1/6th Gravity Trainer, then experience a simulated tumble in space in the Multi-Axis Trainer. You’ll also alternate roles in mission control and shuttle crew during two different Space Shuttle missions.

Witness space exploration almost firsthand in a giant-screen IMAX Spacedome theater presentation. You will also spend time in our world class Space Museum containing America’s largest collection of space artifacts.

Special Programs are for blind and visually impaired and the deaf and hard of hearing, these programs offer all the excitement of Space Camp & Aviation Challenge.

The Space Camp and Aviation Challenge programs specifically designed for blind, visually-impaired, deaf and/or hard-of-hearing attendees have attracted students from across the United States and around the world.

Over the years, we have worked closely with several organizations, including the Alabama Institute for the Deaf and Blind, the West Virginia Schools for the Deaf and the Blind, and most recently, the Western Pennsylvania School for the Deaf, to develop a meaningful, inspirational experience for these students.

Program highlights may include a presentation by blind and/or deaf NASA professionals on career choices and working in the space industry. Enlarged print, sign language interpreters, attention to mobility hazards and other special considerations are extended to put trainees at ease.

Blind students also benefit from the latest technology in the field, including tactile Braille displays and synthetic speech for computers.

Day Camps offer exciting opportunities for learning, friendship and adventure. It has split into two groups, 7-8 year old and 9-11 year olds. You can choose from any of the three programs – Expedition camp, Space Camp and Aviation Challenge sessions. For more details about this day camps, click here

Educator program offer professional development opportunities for both formal and informal educators, as well as a variety of programs for students.

Corporate program
take corporate development training and incentive programs to a whole new level… letting you jump into a flight suit and take on the role of an astronaut or fighter pilot!

For scholarship, photo gallery, international camps, and more information about these camps, visit

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Accurate Measurements of Ancient Carbon Dioxide Help Answer the Human Cause Question

We have been seeing daily headlines on record-breaking temperatures, dwindling sea ice, and retreating glaciers around the world.

But in the global-warming debate, definitive answers to questions about ultimate causes and effects remain elusive. Is our planet really destined for a hot future? Or are we simply experiencing a natural variation in Earth’s climate cycles that will return to “normal” in time?

Using carbon dioxide and temperature variations over the last 400,000 years – one Massachusetts-based company, has attempted to answer the question: a natural cycle or human consequence?

Tim Wormus, an an Analytics Evangelist for Spotfire has come with a sophisticated quantitative and statistical analysis and predictive modeling supported by powerful visual information technology. In fact, many of the most successful businesses in the world – including U.S. government agencies like the FAA, FDA, and homeland defense and national security – rely on analytics like a virtual crystal ball.

  • People understand pictures better than data. The famous ‘hockey stick’ graph was the image that really demonstrated man-made global warming in the popular mind. This is really the key point. For most people to really understand something, they need to see it.
  • Hindsight is 20/20, but this is just not good enough in a dynamic global economy. Decision makers needs to know how to predict the future so that they can take proactive actions, rather then be constantly reacting to problems and fighting fires, as the cliché goes. Analytics software, like Spotfire, is changing the speed and accuracy of decision-making and opening new doors of opportunity by applying “what-if” scenarios to real-time data.
  • Technologies like Spotfire allow for the ready analysis of data from disparate or contrasting sources. If, for instance, we want to know how much a particular abatement strategy will cost, and how much it will help against global warming, it helps to be able to see those things together.
  • Visual analysis allows for a fuller picture of what’s happening to CO2 emissions, warming and other associated issues. Because the data volumes are large, we tend to talk about averages. But it may be more important to look at outliers and extreme values.
  • Technology innovation like that of Spotfire directly addresses other critical issues like world energy demands, healthcare quality, transportation safety decision-making, and homeland defense and national security.

Tim Wormus – A biography

Tim is an Analytics Evangelist for Spotfire, a division of TIBCO Software Inc., He is responsible for tracking and analyzing Analytics and Business Intelligence trends, as well as advocating their use and acceptance at Global 200 companies. Tim has published and lectured on analytics, including presenting an analytics tutorial at the Gartner Business Intelligence Summit and appearing on a panel with analytics guru Tom Davenport.

Spotfire is based in Somerville, Mass., Spotfire, a division of TIBCO Software Inc., is a leading provider of enterprise analytics software for next generation business intelligence. Spotfire provides an interactive, visual approach to data analysis that puts the power to ask and answer questions on demand directly into the hands of a wide range of business professionals. Spotfire customers include industry leaders among the Global 2000 such as AMD, Chevron, Merck, Pfizer, Shell, Texas Instruments, Toshiba, and Unilever.

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Climate Warming Tipping Point

We’ve all heard about global warming. The earth’s warming, it’s not — it’s cooling. One thing’s for sure, my head is spinning. It’s gotten hard to keep track of what kind of climate change we’re really in for. James White,James White Professor of Geological Sciences, Univ. of Colorado at Boulder, talked with me about what he thinks may be a tipping point.

Prof. White says that we may be in for an abrupt climate change, which is when the climate system shifts modes very rapidly (in a few years), by large amounts (5 to 10 degrees C annual temperature, doubling or halving of precipitation, etc.). This type of change is particularly scary, as it is unpredictable and potentially devastating.

The timing of thresholds are hard to predict. Arctic sea ice extents dropped dramatically this past year, for example. Models can predict that change, but not the exact timing.

Is there anything we can do to prepare for abrupt climate change?

The amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the air has a direct affect on the amount of warming our planet experiences.

  • At 380 ppm CO2, we are 100 ppm above the preindustrial level.
  • 100 ppm is the difference we see in ice cores over the past 1 million years between glacial periods and interglacial periods.
  • The climate system has inherent inertia, and thus most of the response to this increase in greenhouse gases is yet to come.
  • Increased levels of greenhouse gases will change climate. This is simple physics, and not a matter of scientific debate.
  • Quantifying feedbacks are key to understanding our future. Small changes in greenhouse gases can cause warming that trigger sea ice melt that in turn trigger much more warming as blue water replaces reflective, white ice.
  • Climate change from greenhouse gases is only one measure of human impacts on the planet. We make as much nitrogen fertilizer as all bacteria in the world.
  • We produce as much sulfate (a cooling aerosol that is a major cloud condensing nucleus) as all phytoplankton in the ocean.
  • We have power, we have the domination we’ve long sought… but now we need to accept the responsibility that comes with that power. Its time to mature and start doing that.

Have we already exceeded a level of increased greenhouse gases that will ultimately result in large increases in sea level (many meters), rainfall patterns, temperatures, and other parts of the climate system? The past would tell us yes.James White – A biography

James White is a Fellow and Interim Director of INSTAAR; Professor of Geological Sciences, Univ. of Colorado at Boulder.

James has started the INSTAAR Stable Isotope Lab in 1989. In recent years, his research has helped to show that large climate changes tend to occur in the natural system as abrupt and rapid shifts in mode probably driven by internal adjustments in the Earth climate system, rather than slow and gradual adjustments to changing external conditions, such as the amount of energy received from the sun.

His research has also helped to show that land plants are capable of removing large amounts of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, amounts that equal our input of CO2 from fossil fuel burning on short time scales. Such large changes in the uptake of CO2 by plants is a key piece in the puzzle we must solve to address future CO2 levels and climate change.

James has written following research papers and also been a contributor of number of publications

  • Global scale climate and environmental dynamics.
  • Carbon dioxide concentrations and climate from stable hydrogen isotopes peats and other organics.
  • Climate from deuterium excess and hydrogen isotopes in ice cores.
  • Isotopes in general circulation models.
  • Modern carbon cycle dynamics via isotopes of carbon dioxide and methane.

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