Tagged: Hawaii

Modern geology — Rocks made of plastic found on Hawaiian beach

Plastic may be with us a lot longer than we thought. In addition to clogging up landfills and becoming trapped in Arctic ice, some of it is turning into stone. Scientists say a new type of rock cobbled together from plastic, volcanic rock, beach sand, seashells, and corals has begun forming on the shores of Hawaii…

Geologist Patricia Corcoran of the University of Western Ontario in London, Canada, and Charles Moore, captain of the oceanographic research vessel Alguita, stumbled upon the new rocks on a beach on the Big Island of Hawaii. These stones, which they’ve dubbed “plastiglomerates,” most likely formed from melting plastic in fires lit by humans who were camping or fishing…Although anywhere there is a heat source, such as forest fires or lava flows, and “abundant plastic debris,” Corcoran says, “there is the potential for the formation of plastiglomerate.” When the plastic melts, it cements rock fragments, sand, and shell debris together, or the plastic can flow into larger rocks and fill in cracks and bubbles to form a kind of junkyard Frankenstein.

Corcoran says some of the plastic is still recognizable as toothbrushes, forks, ropes, and just “anything you can think of.” Once the plastic has fused to denser materials, like rock and coral, it sinks to the sea floor, and the chances it will become buried and preserved in the geologic record increase.

Corcoran and her team canvassed Kamilo Beach on the Big Island for more of the rocks and found plastiglomerate in all 21 sites they surveyed. She says people have already found plastiglomerate on another Hawaiian island, and she expects there to be much more on coastlines across the world. Plastiglomerate is likely well distributed, it’s just never been noticed before now, she says…

The discovery adds to the debate about whether humanity’s heavy hand in natural processes warrants the formal declaration of a new epoch of Earth history, the Anthropocene, says paleontologist Jan Zalasiewicz of the University of Leicester in the United Kingdom…Plastics in general are so pervasive that they’ve been documented in a number of surprising places, including ingested in wildlife and on the sea floor.

The mass of plastic produced since 1950 is close to 6 billion metric tons, enough to bundle the entire planet in plastic wrap. Combine plastic’s abundance with its persistence in the environment, and there’s a good chance it’ll get into the fossil record, Zalasiewicz says. “Plastics, including plastiglomerates, would be one of the key markers by which people could recognize the beginning of the Anthropocene.”

Vulgate terraforming is recognized as reality. Certainly by scientists. Sooner or later by the general public.

That will only leave the same dolts who deny climate change to proclaim that Jesus wore Crocs.

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Hawaii coppers fail at exemption allowing sex with prostitutes

Hawaii lawmakers in both chambers agree that legal permission for police to have sex with prostitutes should end.
House and senate members are still negotiating on the version of House Bill 1926 they will send to the governor. But they concur that the crime bill should revoke a peculiar exemption that permits police in Hawaii, in the course of their duties, to have sex with prostitutes.

The bill began in the house and was amended as it passed out of that chamber’s judicial committee. At the time, Honolulu police told lawmakers that vice-officers needed the exemption in law to prevent pimps and prostitutes from knowing the limits of police methods.

The Associated Press wrote about the successful police lobbying against removing the sex exemption after the bill passed the house. When the senate judiciary committee took up the bill, lawmakers revised it again to reflect the backlash against the exemption, with many expressing strong convictions that police should not have the legal ability to bed prostitutes.

Honolulu police, while assuring the public that their internal policies prevent such abuse, dropped their opposition to removing the exemption.

Nice try, guys. You realize you’ve probably set an example for Congress to try the same stunt.

An alternative solution to America’s probation problem?

Paradise on earth is how most people know Hawaii – white sandy beaches and coconut palms. But there are Hawaiians living outside the frame on the picture postcard.

The roughly 8 million tourists who visit the state each year attract a lot of property crime. Even an ocean away from the mainland, the methamphetamine market is thriving. The islands have jails and prisons, and plenty of people to fill them. But Judge Steven Alm is trying to bring his home state a little bit closer to the paradise people imagine.

To do that, he’s spearheaded an alternative probation program, one that delivers immediate consequences – often jail time — for each and every infraction. The program is tough on crime, while also keeping people out of prison. And this double feat has made it a nascent darling in the world of criminal justice policy, with states across the political spectrum seeking it out as a model…

From the deputy prosecuting attorney for Honolulu to the U.S. Attorney for Hawaii and finally judge, Alm won the respect of the law enforcement community…

That reputation gave Alm an opportunity. He knew Hawaii and the justice system. He also knew it needed a change, particularly the probation program.

…Probation is a great way to keep people out of prison, help them rebuild their lives and ease the burden on taxpayers.

The problem is that probationers rampantly violate the rules, and are often sent back to prison is at the discretion of the probation officer or presiding judge. How those authorities respond to violations varies widely from state to state, according to a 2007 Pew Study, with “enormous implications” for prison population size, cost and public safety…

In 2004, Alm founded HOPE, short for Hawaii’s Opportunity Probation with Enforcement. Its central principle is simple, Alm explained: “If there are any violations of probation, they’re going to go to jail.”

There also are opportunities and judicial/parole officer discretion exists especially for probationers who are honest and timely about reporting and discussing violations. This was an excellent piece of news reporting – and I hope the video is available sooner rather than later.

Please RTFA. It’s longish and thoughtful. Judge Alm’s system is bringing results – at a minimum 55% of probationers do not re-offend. Other qualities measured have even better results.

So far, 17 states and a number of other countries are on board to give his system a trial. No, New Mexico isn’t one of them; I can’t offer any local evidence.

But, please, read the whole article. If you have access to AJAM, AlJazeera in America from your TV content providers, watch for the documentary on one of their evening news programs. I imagine they’ll rerun it.

Leave it to a Republican to run for Congress in four states at once


Just fill in whichever state you feel deserves this clown

Allan Levene says he is a Republican congressional candidate in his home state of Georgia, as well as in Michigan, Minnesota and Hawaii.

Levene, 64, admits running for four congressional seats simultaneously is unorthodox, but nothing in the Constitution forbids it — and he wants to be a member of Congress as a way of saying thanks.

“I have such a debt to this country, a debt of gratitude to the United States for taking me in and letting me become a citizen about 40 years ago that I have to repay it,” the naturalized citizen originally from Britain said.

Wait. Let me get my rubber boots on.

The Constitution states a person elected to the House of Representatives must be a resident of the state he or she will represent when elected, so Levene will choose one race if he wins a primary election…

The Founding Fathers “didn’t really understand you could fly from state to state … times have changed so I am running in four states,” he said. “I can represent the public no matter where I live…”

K. Mark Takai, a Democrat and Hawaii state representative running in Hawaii’s 1st District, a race Levene has targeted, said he is skeptical and unsure if Levene’s strategy will resonate with Hawaiians.

The heart of representative democracy (is that) you want someone to represent you who represents your community and its people,” Takai said.

Someone might explain further that Congress-critters should represent the whole community – not just the corporate flunkies who buy and sell electoral positions as an inherited right, defined by the class they truly represent.

A lonely quest for scientific fact on GMO crops


Rainbow papaya, GMO and grown on Hawaii for decades = 3/4′s of the papaya crop

From the moment the bill to ban genetically engineered crops on the island of Hawaii was introduced in May 2013, it garnered more vocal support than any the County Council here had ever considered, even the perennially popular bids to decriminalize marijuana.

Public hearings were dominated by recitations of the ills often attributed to genetically modified organisms, or G.M.O.s: cancer in rats, a rise in childhood allergies, out-of-control superweeds, genetic contamination, overuse of pesticides, the disappearance of butterflies and bees.

Like some others on the nine-member Council, Greggor Ilagan was not even sure at the outset of the debate exactly what genetically modified organisms were: living things whose DNA has been altered, often with the addition of a gene from a distant species, to produce a desired trait. But he could see why almost all of his colleagues had been persuaded of the virtue of turning the island into what the bill’s proponents called a “G.M.O.-free oasis.”

Please read the tale from start to finish. Greggor Ilagan is one of those rare politicians who is willing to spend a great deal of time studying the science affecting beliefs underlying political questions. Most of the article, long and well-detailed, deals with his willingness to examine the opinions of advocates on both sides of the questions around GMO crops – and the conclusions he reached.

For me, the telling conclusion he realized in the course of his study, is that dealing with GMO crops – on the Left – individuals don’t seem to think they require anymore real attention to science than does the Right on questions of climate change or human sexuality.

You betcha.

Canadian warships collide – proving Canada, once again, a nation unlikely to behave like the United States


All right – which one of you has a GPS that’s working?

Two Canadian warships made their way home Saturday, a day after colliding while making their way to Hawaii, navy official said.

The HMCS Algonquin and HMCS Protecteur were conducting close-quarters towing exercises Friday morning when the accident occurred, the navy said in a statement.

The Algonquin sustained significant damage to its hangar and will no longer be deployed to the Asia Pacific region. The Protecteur’s bow was damaged to a lesser degree.

The damaged ships were expected to reach port in Esquimalt, British Columbia, by late afternoon, CTV News reported. No injuries were reported.

The navy said the collision would be investigated and a Board of Inquiries would issue recommendations on how to prevent similar accidents in the future.

“The Royal Canadian Navy will be conducting an investigation into this unfortunate incident in order to determine exactly what happened,” Commodore Bob Auchterlonie, commander of Canadian Fleet Pacific, said in a statement released by the Department of National Defense.

How to prevent similar accidents? Quit trucking around the ocean in a tin can trying to behave like Attila the Hun who lives just south of you. Does Canada need to train to defend BC from an attack by Dragon Boats from Hawaii?

Touring the world’s greatest science labs


The CERN lab near Geneva, like many other research facilities, offers tours of the premises

They may be at work pursuing the greatest mysteries of the physical world—yet the men and women who operate the world’s most prestigious physics and astronomy laboratories aren’t necessarily too busy to host guests. Throughout the world, physics and astronomy labs—many of them shimmering like stars in the wake of tremendous discoveries and achievements, some on mountaintops, others underground—welcome visitors to tour the premises, see the equipment, look through the telescopes and ponder just why they almost always make you wear a hardhat.

CERN. It’s the little things in life that really matter to the researchers at CERN, or the European Organization for Nuclear Research. This facility—located near Geneva, Switzerland—has gained superstardom over the last year, after announcing the discovery of what had been a holy grail of physics for decades—sometimes called the “God particle.” First predicted by physicist Peter Higgs in 1964, the then-theoretical particle, which pops from a field that is believed to give other particles their mass—became known as the Higgs boson before more recently assuming its grandiose nickname.

CERN’s $10 billion atom smasher, called the Large Hadron Collider, had been at work for several years in its subterranean home in the Alps, beneath the French-Swiss border, colliding protons at high speeds before rendering what seemed to be evidence for the God particle in 2012.

Should you be in the charming Swiss countryside this summer, consider taking a guided tour of this most distinguished of the world’s great physics laboratories.

RTFA and consider many other tours around the world’s leading science labs. Leave more suggestions if you’re so inclined.

Thanks, Ursarodina

Subaru SHARC wins 2012 LA Design Challenge

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Subaru’s SHARC (Subaru Highway Automated Response Concept) has been named the winner of the 2012 LA Design Challenge. The futuristic concept car was chosen by the judges as the best embodiment of the “Highway Patrol Vehicle 2025.”

Subaru’s SHARC beat six other automotive design studios, each of which presented its own concept of “the ultimate 2025 law enforcement patrol vehicle that supports the needs of dynamic urban environments.”

Subaru’s design for an unmanned 24-hour highway monitoring vehicle is intended for use by Hawaii’s highway patrol to police the state’s hypothetical “Paradise Highway” spanning the waters between the islands in 2025. The design is meant to be not only cutting edge, but also to conform to Hawaii’s UltraGreen carbon-neutral environmental regulations and eliminate the need for a large patrol staff in a time of shrinking budgets.

The SHARC is basically a big kevlar balloon with a framework made out of memory material that changes when you run a charge through it. Launched out of a tube, it expands to full size revealing wheels that are shockingly multipurpose. Each one has a 96 bhp electric wheel hub motor and the band-like tires have two tread surfaces set at an angle so the SHARC can make high-speed runs or navigate rough terrain. In between the treads is a slot for the headlamps and tail lights to shine through and the blade-like wheel spokes are actually propellers for when the SHARC takes to the air.

At the end of the day, SHARC deflates itself, rolls itself up again and goes back in its tube.

Um, imaginative comes to mind.

Finding your way to the Dark Side – mapping dark matter


The densest regions of the dark matter cosmic web host massive clusters of galaxies

Astronomers have made the largest map yet of dark matter in the universe. This invisible stuff gives off no light, but it does exert gravity on its surroundings. It probably consists of unknown elementary particles, and it’s much more prevalent than the normal matter from which stars, planets, and people are made. The new map shows that dark matter is concentrated in huge clumps and filaments, with giant, empty regions in between—just as computer simulations had predicted…

Mapping the invisible may sound impossible, but in fact it’s rather simple. Just as an invisible man sleeping in your bed will leave wrinkles in the sheets, the gravity of invisible dark matter produces minute distortions in the observed shapes of background galaxies. Using this “weak lensing” effect to map dark matter is “a first important step to understand the dark Universe,” says…Catherine Heymans of the University of Edinburgh…

Working with the 340-megapixel MegaCam camera on the 3.6-meter Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope (CFHT) on Mauna Kea, Hawaii, the team spent 5 years imaging 10 million galaxies at distances of about 6 billion light-years. “Our map is about a hundred times larger than the largest dark matter map to date,” Van Waerbeke says. A statistical analysis of the shapes of the galaxies revealed the spatial distribution of the intervening dark matter.

The results…look very much like supercomputer simulations of the evolution of the universe, with dark matter clumped into a “cosmic web” of filaments and knots. The clumpy knots, where most of the dark matter is concentrated, neatly coincide with huge clusters of galaxies, just as cosmological theories suggest.

In fact, says astrophysicist Rachel Mandelbaum of Princeton University, “projects like the CFHT Lensing Survey can be used to test theories of dark matter and general relativity.” So far, Ludovic Van Waerbeke says, “everything looks okay. The maps show exactly what we expected.” In other words, the results confirm current popular ideas about the physics, makeup, and evolution of the universe.

Still no sightings of angels, demons, gods and other critters from popular superstitions.