Sun ejects biggest solar flare in 4 years – Duck and cover!

The sun unleashed its strongest solar flare in four years Monday night, hurling a massive wave of charged particles from electrified gas into space and toward Earth.

The solar storm sent a flash of radiation that hit Earth in a matter of minutes. Now a huge cloud of charged particles is headed our way. These coronal mass ejections, as they are called, typically take about 24 hours or more to arrive. They can spark spectacular displays of the aurora borealis, or northern lights, at high latitudes and sometimes even into the northern United States…

Class X flares are the strongest types of solar flares that can erupt from the sun…

Last night’s X2.2 flare is the most powerful solar eruption of the sun’s current weather cycle, called Solar Cycle 24…

The Monday flare came on the heels of another, only slightly less powerful, class M6.6 flare on Sunday, Feb. 13. Both events erupted from the same area on the sun, called active region 1158…

Such a flare can bathe the Earth in high doses of ultraviolet radiation and X-rays hurl a huge burst of solar wind in our direction. When this burst arrives at Earth, the electrons and protons from the solar wind come into contact with our planet’s magnetic field, and stream toward the magnetic poles.

The disturbance can create a geomagnetic storm in Earth’s magnetic field.

Get out your tinfoil hats!

Ski slope in Copenhagen to be built atop a power station – and, uh, it blows smoke rings!

A collaboration led by the Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) has announced that it’s been selected to design a new waste-to-power station on the outskirts of Copenhagen. In an attempt to unify an industrial area and residential housing, the project will turn the vast roofing expanse of the power station into an Alpine ski resort. Skiers will begin their downward journey from the top of the smokestack, which will also pump out smoke rings every time a ton of carbon dioxide is produced to remind citizens of the impact of power consumption.

The radical design is being prepared for a waste-to-energy and recycling company called Amagerforbrænding, which already operates an incineration plant that converts the waste from five districts into electricity and heating…

Denmark and Sweden both use a fair amount of waste-to-power conversion for generating electricity. Most of what they burn is biomass remaining from timber industries.

In fact, the good dude we get ½-ton “spools” of trim and slabs from – to use as kindling all winter – is installing a 6-figure machine at his sawmill to produce biomass of the most efficient sizes for use in electricity generation by new powerplants in-state.

Chain store stops charging extra to women with big boobs

Daylife/Getty Images used by permission

Marks & Spencer said it would stop charging more for larger bras after more than 14,000 consumers joined a Facebook group calling for an end to its differential pricing.

Unlike most retailers, M&S charged £2 more for bras with a cup size above DD – a cost described by the Facebook group Busts 4 Justice as a “tit-tax”.

The company defended its position saying the charge reflected the extra cost of producing a bra for larger bust sizes, and that other specialist lingerie retailers charged £60 or more for larger cups.

However, it has now backed down and today took out full-page adverts in the press to tell consumers that from tomorrow, all bras will cost the same. Under the headline “We boobed” the adverts say: “We were wrong, so as of Saturday 9th May the storm in a D cup is over…”

The Busts 4 Justice group was set up last summer by Beckie Williams, a 26-year-old writer from Brighton who was fed up of paying extra for her 30G bras…

Eventually, her Facebook group had attracted 14,246 members. In a message on its homepage she told them: “We are really happy to say that, thanks to the members of Busts 4 Justice, M&S have decided to abolish the tit-tax, and from now on will be operating a one-price-fits-all policy across their ranges.

“We would like to thank everyone who has supported us on this issue; especially the thousands of brilliant, busty women that have joined forces with us. We couldn’t have done this without you.”

Bravo! I’d be willing to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with a political movement like this, any day.

Nothing like a full-frontal assault!

Amazon’s oversize Kindle out to replace textbooks – UPDATED

It won’t be quite this big!
Daylife/Getty Images used by permission

Amazon plans to unveil a new version of its Kindle e-book reader with a larger screen and other features designed to appeal to periodical and academic textbook publishers, according to people familiar with the matter.

Beginning this fall, some students at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland will be given large-screen Kindles with textbooks for chemistry, computer science and a freshman seminar already installed, said Lev Gonick, the school’s chief information officer. The university plans to compare the experiences of students who get the Kindles and those who use traditional textbooks, he said.

Amazon has worked out a deal with several textbook publishers to make their materials available for the device, Mr. Gonick added. The new device will also feature a more fully functional Web browser, he said. The Kindle’s current model, which debuted in February, includes a Web browser that is classified as “experimental.”

Five other universities are involved in the Kindle project, according to people briefed on the matter. They are Pace, Princeton, Reed, Darden School at the University of Virginia, and Arizona State.

The Seattle company sent out invitations to a press event to be held Wednesday at Pace University in New York City.

Makes a lot of sense. Start out with a target market which is ideal for the product.

Of course, none of this will suit the pundits who think every new bit of hardware and/or software must be designed to take over the world. Reflect upon that some time.

UPDATE: Amazon is taking pre-orders for this summer for the Kindle DX.