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Researchers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, are cooking up an alien atmosphere right here on Earth.
In a new study, JPL scientists used a high-temperature “oven” to heat a mixture of hydrogen and carbon monoxide to more than 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit (1,100 Celsius), about the temperature of molten lava. The aim was to simulate conditions that might be found in the atmospheres of a special class of exoplanets (planets outside our solar system) called “hot Jupiters.”
Hot Jupiters are gas giants that orbit very close to their parent star, unlike any of the planets in our solar system. While Earth takes 365 days to orbit the Sun, hot Jupiters orbit their stars in less than 10 days. Their close proximity to a star means their temperatures can range from 1,000 to 5,000 degrees Fahrenheit (530 to 2,800 degrees Celsius) or even hotter. By comparison, a hot day on the surface of Mercury (which takes 88 days to orbit the Sun) reaches about 800 degrees Fahrenheit (430 degrees Celsius).
“Though it is impossible to exactly simulate in the laboratory these harsh exoplanet environments, we can come very close,” said JPL principal scientist Murthy Gudipati, who leads the group that conducted the new study, published last month in the Astrophysical Journal.
The team started with a simple chemical mixture of mostly hydrogen gas and 0.3 percent carbon monoxide gas. These molecules are extremely common in the universe and in early solar systems, and they could reasonably compose the atmosphere of a hot Jupiter. Then the team heated the mixture to between 620 and 2,240 degrees Fahrenheit (330 and 1,230 Celsius).
The team also exposed the laboratory brew to a high dose of ultraviolet radiation — similar to what a hot Jupiter would experience orbiting so close to its parent star. The UV light proved to be a potent ingredient. It was largely responsible for some of the study’s more surprising results about the chemistry that might be taking place in these toasty atmospheres.
Hot Jupiters are large by planet standards, and they radiate more light than cooler planets. Such factors have allowed astronomers to gather more information about their atmospheres than most other types of exoplanets. Those observations reveal that many hot Jupiter atmospheres are opaque at high altitudes. Although clouds might explain the opacity, they become less and less sustainable as the pressure decreases, and the opacity has been observed where the atmospheric pressure is very low.
Scientists have been looking for potential explanations other than clouds, and aerosols — solid particles suspended in the atmosphere — could be one. However, according to the JPL researchers, scientists were previously unaware of how aerosols might develop in hot Jupiter atmospheres. In the new experiment, adding UV light to the hot chemical mix did the trick.
“This result changes the way we interpret those hazy hot Jupiter atmospheres,” said Benjamin Fleury, a JPL research scientist and lead author of the study. “Going forward, we want to study the properties of these aerosols. We want to better understand how they form, how they absorb light and how they respond to changes in the environment. All that information can help astronomers understand what they’re seeing when they observe these planets.”
The study yielded another surprise: The chemical reactions produced significant amounts of carbon dioxide and water. While water vapor has been found in hot Jupiter atmospheres, scientists for the most part expect this precious molecule to form only when there is more oxygen than carbon. The new study shows that water can form when carbon and oxygen are present in equal amounts. (Carbon monoxide contains one carbon atom and one oxygen atom.) And while some carbon dioxide (one carbon and two oxygen atoms) formed without the addition of UV radiation, the reactions accelerated with the addition of simulated starlight.
“These new results are immediately useful for interpreting what we see in hot Jupiter atmospheres,” said JPL exoplanet scientist Mark Swain, a study coauthor. “We’ve assumed that temperature dominates the chemistry in these atmospheres, but this shows we need to look at how radiation plays a role.”
With next-generation tools like NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope, set to launch in 2021, scientists might produce the first detailed chemical profiles of exoplanet atmospheres, and it’s possible that some of those first subjects will be hot Jupiters. These studies will help scientists learn how other solar systems form and how similar or different they are to our own.
For the JPL researchers, the work has just begun. Unlike a typical oven, theirs seals the gas in tightly to prevent leaks or contamination, and it allows the researchers to control the pressure of the gas as the temperature rises. With this hardware, they can now simulate exoplanet atmospheres at even higher temperatures: close to 3,000 degrees Fahrenheit (1,600 degrees Celsius).
“It’s been an ongoing challenge figuring out how to design and operate this system successfully, since most standard components such as glass or aluminum melt at these temperatures,” said JPL research scientist Bryana Henderson, a coauthor of the study. “We’re still learning how to push these boundaries while safely handling these chemical processes in the lab. But at the end of the day, the exciting results that come out of these experiments is worth all the extra effort.”
Alex Jones exposes the massive push around the globe to use corporate media to smear pro-liberty movements.
FILE PHOTO: A sign outside the headquarters of JP Morgan Chase & Co in New York, September 19, 2013. REUTERS/Mike Segar
March 18, 2019
By David Henry
NEW YORK (Reuters) – Responding to calls for more bank services for low-income consumers, JPMorgan Chase & Co on Monday began offering checkless accounts with access to its mobile app, branches and ATMs for $4.95 a month and no minimum balance.
The accounts come with debit cards, digital payments and free check cashing, but do not allow overdrafts.
Fees for overdrafts generated significant revenue for banks in the past. They have angered customers, brought down the wrath of politicians and discouraged people with low incomes from using banks.
Thasunda Duckett, chief executive of Chase Consumer Banking, said she hoped the new accounts will attract more low-income individuals and people who have never had bank accounts.
“The very first step in building financial health really starts with a bank account,” Duckett said.
The annual cost of $60 for the new accounts compares with charges of $200 to $500 a year at check cashing and money order services, she said.
Some 6.5 percent of U.S. households had no one with a bank account in 2017, according to a study by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.
Regulators have been pushing banks to do more to attract low-income customers. “Financial inclusion” has become a rallying cry for groups trying to help people out of poverty.
JPMorgan’s move comes after competitors Bank of America Corp and Citigroup Inc introduced similar accounts.
The new accounts mark an expansion of low-cost services because JPMorgan has 16,000 ATMs and 5,000 U.S. branches, second only to Wells Fargo & Co.
Since 2012, JPMorgan has offered a prepaid debit card with many banking services for $4.95 a month. But customers said that card, called Liquid, came up short. It could not be used for Uber taxi rides and car rentals, for example.
The new account, called Secure, offers those features.
Financial technology startups, such as Chime and SoFi, offer accounts with large networks of ATMs and without monthly fees. Chase’s fee, Duckett said, provides ATMs that accept checks and bankers to question in person.
The accounts will make “some money,” she said, but be less profitable than the bank’s other businesses.
Before the financial crisis, banks widely offered free checking, making money on overdrafts and merchant fees on debit cards. Post-crisis reforms slashed those fees and free accounts were cut back.
Now that banks have built digital tools for better-off customers, the services can be extended to people with lower incomes.
(Reporting by David Henry in New York Additional reporting by Anna Irrera; Editing by Tom Brown)
Henry Rodgers | Capitol Hill Reporter
2020 presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke reportedly wrote a murder fantasy in which the narrator drives over children in the street, a Friday report detailed.
O’Rourke was exposed in a Reuters report as a member of one of the U.S.’s biggest hacking groups, called the “Cult of the Dead Cow,” the groups focus was to provide the necessary tools to those wanting to hack Microsoft computers. He also ended up writing bulletin boards, one he wrote when he was 15, detailing himself accelerating a car into a group of children and hearing them scream.
“One day, as I was driving home from work, I noticed two children crossing the street. They were happy, happy to be free from their troubles…. This happiness was mine by right. I had earned it in my dreams,” O’Rourke wrote in one of the t-files, according to Reuters.
“As I neared the young ones, I put all my weight on my right foot, keeping the accelerator pedal on the floor until I heard the crashing of the two children on the hood, and then the sharp cry of pain from one of the two. I was so fascinated for a moment, that when after I had stopped my vehicle, I just sat in a daze, sweet visions filling my head,” O’Rourke continued. (RELATED: Texas Democratic Party Chairman Unable To Name One Beto Accomplishment)
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FILE PHOTO: U.S. Senate candidate Beto O’Rourke comes out before singer Willie Nelson at the “Turn out for Texas Rally with Willie & Beto” event in Austin, Texas, U.S., September 29, 2018. REUTERS/Erich Schlegel/File Photo
March 15, 2019
By Joseph Menn
SAN FRANCISCO(Reuters) – Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke belonged to one of the best-known groups of computer hackers as a teenager, Reuters revealed today.
In an exclusive interview with this reporter for a forthcoming book about the group, the former U.S. congressman from Texas confirmed that as a youth in El Paso, he belonged to the hacking group known as the Cult of the Dead Cow. He also acknowledged that, during those teenage years, he stole long-distance phone service to participate in electronic discussions. Others in the group committed the same offense and got off with warnings; the statute of limitations ran out long ago.
In the group, O’Rourke wrote online essays under the pseudonym “Psychedelic Warlord” that could provide fodder for political supporters and foes alike. One mocked a neo-Nazi, while another was a short piece of fiction from a killer’s point of view.
The Reuters article marks the ex-congressman as the most prominent former hacker in American politics. It draws on interviews with more than a dozen members of the group who agreed to be named for the first time in the book, titled “Cult of the Dead Cow: How the Original Hacking Supergroup Might Just Save the World.”
There is no indication that O’Rourke himself engaged in the edgiest sorts of hacking activity – breaking into computers or writing code that enabled others to do so. After his active period in the late 1980s, the group became famous for releasing tools that allowed ordinary computer users to hijack other people’s machines. Though it was controversial, the resulting chaos forced Windows maker Microsoft to dramatically improve security.
For O’Rourke, the long-suppressed tale fills out an unusual portrait for a presidential aspirant. Born to a prominent El Paso family and sent to a boarding school and an Ivy League college, O’Rourke felt a misfit as a youth and played in a punk band before starting a small technology business and an alternative press outlet, launching him into local politics.
O’Rourke came to national attention last year when he came within three percentage points of defeating Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz, energizing new voters and taking in record donations for a Senate campaign while eschewing special-interest money.
The few technology professionals let in on O’Rourke’s secret said it showed a deep understanding of technology and a healthy willingness to challenge traditions, attributes that O’Rourke stressed in his interview.
“There’s just this profound value in being able to be apart from the system and look at it critically,” O’Rourke said. “I think of the Cult of the Dead Cow as a great example of that.”
(By Joseph Menn in San Francisco. Edited by Kari Howard)
Supervisory Border Patrol Agent Joe Romero walks next to new bollard-style U.S.-Mexico border fencing in Santa Teresa, New Mexico, U.S., March 5, 2019. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
March 15, 2019
By Andrew Hay and Richard Cowan
SANTA TERESA, New Mexico/ WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The 18-foot-tall steel slats extend 20 miles across the rugged Chihuahuan desert in southern New Mexico, cutting through high sand dunes and brush.
On a recent day, there were none of the usual signs of migrant traffic – no discarded water bottles, clothes or trash. The radio on a Border Patrol SUV driving along the divide was mostly silent.
To many locals and public officials familiar with the area, the $74-million structure just west of tiny Santa Teresa marks a surprising priority in the Trump administration’s efforts to build a wall against illegal immigration, drugs and human trafficking.
“Most of us here say why spend that money? Just dead money going into the middle of the desert,” said Jerry Pacheco, president and CEO of the Border Industrial Association, a nonprofit representing industries in southern New Mexico.
The barrier, completed last year, provides an early peek at the administration’s efforts to provide the layer of national security President Donald Trump’s supporters demand. Although the fence does not break new ground – it replaces less formidable vehicle barriers – it is the longest section erected to date under Trump, who has said generally that he is starting in the most important places.
During more than two dozen interviews by Reuters reporters with the project’s opponents and advocates, few described the Santa Teresa stretch as having been a hub of illegal activity. Residents said they had found evidence of drug smuggling, such as packages of marijuana and other drugs dumped in the desert, and had seen individuals or small groups of migrants cross from time to time.
During a recent tour along the Santa Teresa-area wall – or fence, as some call it – a U.S. Border Patrol official explained to a Reuters reporter why the project was necessary.
“This was an extremely popular place for both drugs and people,” said supervisory agent Joe Romero, referring to the stretch next to New Mexico Highway 9 where the rust-brown slats rise above mesquite trees and soaptree yuccas.
The agency would not provide figures for migrant apprehensions by the Santa Teresa station before and after the wall was built.
Romero confirmed the Santa Teresa area was not typically a destination for the large groups of immigrants from El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala seeking asylum in the United States. That is the group Trump has mainly been targeting.
But Romero said the Santa Teresa fence allows the border patrol to police the area with fewer agents and shift manpower to nearby urban and semi-urban areas where the most migrants are now illegally crossing. With agents tied up by large numbers of asylum seekers and their humanitarian needs, the under-staffed agency needs the extra personnel in areas where smugglers are taking advantage of these distractions, Romero said.
A ‘STATE OF EMERGENCY’
Trump’s proposed “great wall” extending along the border has come to define his presidency, just as Trump Tower has defined his real estate brand. He cites “an invasion of drugs, invasion of gangs, invasion of people” and says the only way to put a stop to it is a hard barrier along much of the 2,000 mile (3,200 km) southwest border.
Around 650 miles (1,046 km) of barriers already exist.
The problem for the president is that while his Department of Homeland Security selects possible building sites, including Santa Teresa, the administration generally needs Congress to appropriate the money. And Congress has balked at the billions Trump wants.
On Feb. 15, the president declared a national emergency, which he said would allow him to seize federal funds already appropriated for other programs and use them to build the wall.
On Thursday, the Senate voted to terminate that declaration, setting up an avowed veto by Trump that will be difficult for lawmakers to override.
Amid the political warfare, Santa Teresa is the first significant project to materialize under the president’s watch.
Critics in Congress, including some Republicans, say the project was about politics, not protection.
“They’re sending a message – they’re not trying to meet operational security needs,” said U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich, a New Mexico Democrat, of politicians who favored the project.
Others say expanding on existing barriers provides a relatively quick, easy way for the administration to argue that Trump is delivering on his 2016 campaign promise.
Gabriel Vasquez, a Democrat who serves on the city council of nearby Las Cruces, noted that the relatively small population in the Santa Teresa area meant the project would meet little public resistance. And the federal government already owned most of the land around the border there so did not have to spend time and money buying it from private ranchers or other landholders.
At least one other site for wall-building also is proposed in a desolate location: According to the Washington Post, the Trump administration plans a 31-mile barrier adjacent to a bombing range in the Arizona desert.
Democrat Tom Udall, the other U.S. senator from New Mexico, said he pressed federal officials to justify the Santa Teresa project before construction started.
“‘What is the pressure on this particular area, why are you doing that?’” he recalled asking. “And they said, ‘Oh in 2012 there were 300 people and in 2017 there were 500 that they know that crossed” illegally, Udall said.
By comparison, more than 300,000 migrants were apprehended in 2017 across the entire southern border.
Instead of building large, expensive barriers in remote areas, Udall and Heinrich say it makes more sense to invest federal dollars in high-tech detection equipment there.
They also want to improve infrastructure and inspections at the major ports-of-entry, including El Paso (about 15 miles southeast of Santa Teresa), where experts say the bulk of drug smuggling occurs.
Gil Kerlikowske, who was the U.S. Customs and Border Protection commissioner from 2014-2017, suggested that the emphasis on erecting physical barriers was recent.
During his tenure, Kerlikowske said, agents at southwest border stations spoke of the need for a big bag of tools: Predator drones, boats, helicopter support, remote video, ground sensors, research and development of tunnel detection and agents on horseback, ATVs and motorcycles.
“Border Patrol never mentioned walls” then, he said.
DEFENDERS OF THE WALL
Locally, however, the Santa Teresa fence has some defenders.
Former U.S. Representative Steve Pearce, now the chairman of the Republican Party of New Mexico, said that ranchers on the border with Mexico want a wall on their properties, believing it will not only stop immigrants from interfering with their livestock operations but also protect their families from violent drug cartels.
Pearce, an early Trump supporter, added, “I have always felt that the wall by itself has got to be supplemented” with a range of border enforcement tools, from more agents to technology.
Rancher Chip Johns, who said he has found bales of drugs dropped by fleeing smugglers and who sleeps with a gun by his bed, said he felt safer with the fence running along his 250,000-acre property. He hopes it marks just the beginning of a more extensive project.
To stop the wall after 20 miles, allowing drug smugglers to cross where it ends, would be “ridiculous,” he said.
(Andrew Hay reported from Santa Teresa, New Mexico and Richard Cowan from Washington; Additional reporting by Jane Ross and Lucy Nicholson; Editing by Julie Marquis and Marla Dickerson)