Tagged: Minnesota

Experiment sees neutrinos change — and, meanwhile, at the Ice Cube Observatory…

Click to enlargeIce Cube Collaboration

From where do these neutrinos come? The IceCube Neutrino Observatory near the South Pole of the Earth has begun to detect nearly invisible particles of very high energy. Although these rarely-interacting neutrinos pass through much of the Earth just before being detected, where they started remains a mystery. Pictured here is IceCube’s Antarctic lab accompanied by a cartoon depicting long strands of detectors frozen into the crystal clear ice below. Candidate origins for these cosmic neutrinos include the violent surroundings of supermassive black holes at the centers of distant galaxies, and tremendous stellar explosions culminating in supernovas and gamma ray bursts far across the universe. As IceCube detects increasingly more high energy neutrinos, correlations with known objects may resolve this cosmic conundrum — or we may never know.

Ursarodinia kicks off this week’s PAWS and CLAWS newsletter featuring the Ice Cube Observatory. Which reminded me that I’ve had the article below sitting in the hopper for a month. It’s very interesting to me – as is her find on the same topic. Time to offer up both together.

NOvA is on a quest to learn more about the abundant yet mysterious particles called neutrinos, which flit through ordinary matter as though it weren’t there. The first NOvA results, released…at the American Physical Society’s Division of Particles and Fields conference in Ann Arbor, Michigan, verify that the experiment’s massive particle detector — 50 feet tall, 50 feet wide and 200 feet long — is sitting in the sweet spot and detecting neutrinos fired from 500 miles away. Scientists have sorted through millions of cosmic ray strikes and zeroed in on neutrino interactions…

The neutrino beam generated at Fermilab passes through an underground near detector, which measures the beam’s neutrino composition before it leaves the Fermilab site. The particles then travel more than 500 miles straight through Earth, no tunnel required, oscillating (or changing types) along the way. About once per second, Fermilab’s accelerator sends trillions of neutrinos to Minnesota, but the elusive neutrinos interact so rarely that only a few will register at the far detector.

When a neutrino bumps into an atom in the NOvA detector, it releases a signature trail of particles and light depending on which type it is: an electron, muon or tau neutrino. The beam originating at Fermilab is made almost entirely of one type — muon neutrinos — and scientists can measure how many of those muon neutrinos disappear over their journey and reappear as electron neutrinos.

If oscillations did not occur, experimenters predicted they would see 201 muon neutrinos arrive at the NOvA far detector in the data collected; instead, they saw a mere 33, proof that the muon neutrinos were disappearing as they transformed into the two other flavors. Similarly, if oscillations did not occur, scientists expected to see only one electron neutrino appearance (due to background interactions). But the collaboration saw six such events, evidence that some of the missing muon neutrinos had turned into electron neutrinos…

Neutrinos are the most abundant massive particle in the universe but are still poorly understood. While researchers know that neutrinos come in three types, they don’t know which is the heaviest and which is the lightest. Figuring out this ordering — one of the goals of the NOvA experiment — would be a great litmus test for theories about how the neutrino gets its mass. While the famed Higgs boson helps explain how some particles obtain their masses, scientists don’t know yet how it is connected to neutrinos, if at all. The measurement of the neutrino mass hierarchy is also crucial information for neutrino experiments trying to see if the neutrino is its own antiparticle.

You know, I figure I’m good for another 10 or 20 years. I guess I could consider starting out, once again, on a new career. And that would be computational analysis in one or another scientific field – or multiple fields. My wife is already expert enough in some of the computing fields I’ve managed to avoid. We would be a helluva pair. But, we’re both happy at how we live here at Lot 4.

We get a fair piece of individual intellectual inquiry started through this blog and others – and more. It’s just a tempting thought and I figured I’d note it.

Thanks, Ursarodinia

Minnesota declares state of emergency over bird flu outbreak

Gov. Mark Dayton has declared a state of emergency over a bird flu outbreak that has killed more than 2.5 million turkeys in Minnesota and has for the first time this week stricken a Minnesota chicken farm.

The governor’s order activates an emergency operations plan to support the state’s response to the epidemic. It also calls for National Guard personnel to be ordered to duty as needed, but the governor is not calling up troops.

He’s now called up the National Guard as support for the whole operation – especially providing water tankers for the foam spray used to kill the birds.

Minnesota is the nation’s largest turkey producer, and 45 commercial farms have now been hit by the highly pathogenic H5N2 virus, including one more announced Thursday. Also, the first Minnesota outbreak in a “back yard flock” of poultry — 151 birds — was reported Thursday in Pipestone County.

And a farmer in northwestern Minnesota said Thursday that his egg-laying operation with 300,000 chickens has been stung by the flu.

“This is a moving target, and the number of farms affected has continued to increase,” Dayton said. “We don’t know what the ceiling will be.”

Dayton said the order will tighten lines of authority in state and local government and allow his office to properly coordinate planning between the Board of Animal Health, the Minnesota Department of Agriculture and the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management…

The bird flu poses a low risk to human health and the H5N2 strain currently spreading across North America has not caused any illnesses in people. The 140 people in Minnesota who have worked directly with sick birds have been monitored by the Minnesota Department of Health. None has tested positive for bird flu.

State officials reiterated Thursday that the bird flu is not a food safety risk either. Sickened birds are destroyed, and turkey shipments are tested, said Dave Frederickson, commissioner of the Department of Agriculture. “The poultry on grocery store shelves is safe and will continue to be safe…”

The bird flu has appeared in 16 states, including striking a 3.8 million hen farm in northern Iowa — the largest single outbreak nationwide — and two more egg-laying operations in Wisconsin, which has also declared a state of emergency. Now, Minnesota’s egg industry, the eighth largest in the nation, has become a victim.

Still, pretty scary. Most farmers rely on composting the dead birds to rid infection dangers while providing some cost relief. None are allowed to restock their farms until they can prove the virus is absent.

Jailed months awaiting trial, man released after his “drugs” proven to be vitamins


A Minnesota man who was arrested in November on drug charges has been released after the “most expensive and most accurate test” available found that the drugs in his possession were over the counter vitamins…

Joseph Burrell was arrested on two felony counts of drug possession on November 14, 2014. According to police, Burrell was initially stopped for driving out of a grocery store parking lot without his lights on. When police searched his vehicle, they found a bag containing powder that a field test determined could be an amphetamine.

Burrell — who acknowledged that he had used drugs in the past, but that he had also just finished in-patient treatment at the New Beginnings drug treatment center in nearby Waverly — insisted that the substance was not illegal, and that he had purchased it to deal with a chronically sore shoulder.

Prosecutors pressured him to plead guilty, but Burrell told the Free Press that he “couldn’t plead guilty [to possessing] something I knew wasn’t a drug. They set my bail at $250,000 for vitamins.”

The charges were dropped after prosecutors used a more sophisticated means of analyzing the powder and discovered that it did, in fact, consist of legally available vitamins.

“I had been sitting in the jail since November with my bail set at $250,000,” Burrell told the Free Press. “Then, two days before trial, they dropped the charges and let me go.”

Accurate field tests, a timely trial, reasonable bail – seems to me I read somewhere these are all part of how a modern police department, justice system, function.

Is that too difficult for Minnesota to comprehend?

Of course, it reminds me of the time I was busted by customs coppers at Prestwick Airport in Scotland. About to be charged for the white powder in a plastic bag in my backpack, I finally convinced the most obstreperous of the lot to snort just the tiniest bit to test for any narcotic effects.

When little bubbles popped out of his nose he finally admitted I was telling the truth when I said it was Woolite! While his mates rolled on the floor laughing.

Thanks, Joseph

Mayfly hatch blankets towns along the Mississippi River

Residents along the Mississippi River would rather do without this rite of summer, the annual mayfly hatch that fills the air with insects and leaves surfaces of cars and just about everything else with a slimy mess.

A hatch starting at about 8:45 p.m. CT Sunday was so prolific that it created a bow echo on radar, similar to one that would be made in a significant rainstorm, according to the La Crosse, Wis., office of the National Weather Service. A weather service employee captured some images of the short-lived insects covering nearly everything in their path…

Typically, mayflies emerge in three or four hatches from June to August along the upper Mississippi, but water temperature plays a big role in when the larvae mature. The delay of warm weather in the spring may have contributed to Sunday’s massive, simultaneous hatch.

Up and down the river, the mayfly hatch has been a problem. About 80 miles upriver from here, police in Trenton, Wis., say mayflies may have triggered a three-vehicle crash Sunday…

The road about 50 miles southeast of Minneapolis had become slick from the mayflies Sunday evening, causing at least one of the drivers involved in the crash to lose control of her vehicle. Visibility was limited at the time of the crash because to the massive cloud of mayflies in the air, police said.

RTFA article and enjoy the video of LaCrosse radar recording a flying infestation as dense as a rainstorm. :)

Republican makes AIDS, “Gay Agenda” demented campaign issues

As far as hot button issues are concerned, the Republican primary race for governor has been a snooze, with the four candidates steering clear of controversy like gay marriage. But that’s not the case in a couple of legislative primary contests…

In house district 30B in Wright County, Kevin Kasel is challenging Eric Lucero, who won the party’s endorsement, in part, by criticizing incumbent David FitzSimmons’ vote for same sex marriage.

Then there’s Carver County’s house district 47A, where Waconia Mayor Jim Nash is facing off against Norwood Young America businessman Bob Frey, a race in which “sodomy” has become one of the campaign issues…

…When questioned about his position on social issues, Frey added that it “does certainly need to be addressed for what it is. It’s not about the gay agenda but about the science and the financial impact of that agenda. It’s more about sodomy than about pigeonholing a lifestyle.”

Frey then explained his view: “When you have egg and sperm that meet in conception, there’s an enzyme in the front that burns through the egg. The enzyme burns through so the DNA can enter the egg. If the sperm is deposited anally, it’s the enzyme that causes the immune system to fail. That’s why the term is AIDS – acquired immunodeficiency syndrome.”

(This explanation of AIDS has no scientific validity, but it may strike a familiar chord: It is essentially the same one given by Bob’s son, Mike Frey, in testimony given before the House Civil Law Committee last year during the debate over gay marriage.)

Like a lot of nutballs who rely on junk science for part of their ideology, Frey is on record stating that the fossil record proves that dinosaurs have always lived alongside man…in the course of his campaign to have the teaching of evolution removed from school curricula, he also claims the Sun is shrinking at a rate of five feet an hour.

Thanks, Mike

Dumb crook of the day

Minnesota police arrested a burglary suspect who apparently forgot to log out of Facebook after checking his profile during a break-in at a St. Paul home.

The homeowner came back to his house and found that credit cards, cash and a watch were missing. The thief had also left behind a pair of Nike tennis shoes, jeans and a belt that he apparently discarded because it had been raining outside.

He also left behind his information on James Wood’s computer.

“World’s dumbest criminal,” Wood told CBS Minnesota. “I don’t know. I started to panic, but then I noticed he had pulled up his Facebook profile.”

Wood began posting on Nicholas Wig’s profile and the 26-year-old eventually texted him. After they made a plan to meet up later to exchange items, Wood went for a walk. He then spotted Wig on the street and called police…

When Wig was arrested, he was wearing Wood’s watch.


“Big Mouth Billy” scares off intruder

The crime scene of a break-in at a Rochester’s Hooked on Fishing shop showed evidence that a burglar got scared off by a motion-activated, singing bass

The novelty bass, which had been hung near the door and would start singing “Take Me to the River” whenever someone entered the shop, was found on the floor after the intruder knocked it down as part of breaking the door to get in, according to the Olmsted County Sheriff’s Office.

But the intruder appeared to have left in a hurry, without stealing anything — not tackle nor cash that had been left in “a very visible spot,” Sgt. Tom Claymon said.

The bass “took one for the team,” Claymon said. “There were plenty of things to take but nothing was missing … other than Billy’s pride”

A burglar whose level of sophistication matches that of the fish.

FAA spoilsports won’t approve beer drone deliveries for ice fishers

A brewery said plans for aerial drone beer deliveries for Minnesota ice fishing houses are on hold after running afoul of the Federal Aviation Administration.

Jack Supple, president of Lakemaid Beer, came up with the plan for using a six-bladed unmanned craft to deliver 12 packs of beer to ice fishing houses and created a YouTube video depicting a test run on Lake Waconia in Carver County…

The video quickly went viral.

“Our Facebook page went wild because our fans loved the idea,” Supple said.

However, Supple said he soon received some bad news from the FAA, which sent him an email explaining commercial use of drones is not yet permitted.

“Our concern is the safety of people on the ground and the safety of people in the air,” FAA spokeswoman Elizabeth Isham Coryn said…

“I see what they’re talking about. When you think of all of the people who are going to come up with ways to use these, the regulation of it is going to be important, so they’re learning as fast as we are,” Supple said.

Face it. The Feds are a bunch of stiffs who are concerned that some plastic-chainstore brewery like Budweiser didn’t come up with the idea, first. I think Lakemaid Beer should get an open-ended trial and go ahead and do the work for the FAA. Plenty of room for slippery landings on frozen lakes in Minnesota.

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.