Daily Archives: March 20, 2012

Views from the Solar System (32)


                                                                                                                                        
SPACE WATCH

Sunspots and Solar Flares
NASA – NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) captured this image of an M7.9 class flare on March 13, 2012 at 1:29 p.m. EDT. It is shown here in the 131 Angstrom wavelength, a wavelength particularly good for seeing solar flares and a wavelength that is typically colorized in teal. The flare peaked at 1:41 p.m. EDT. It was from the same active region, No. 1429, that produced flares and coronal mass ejections the entire week. The region has been moving across the face of the sun since March 2, and will soon rotate out of Earth view.

A solar flare is an intense burst of radiation coming from the release of magnetic energy associated with sunspots. Flares are our solar system’s largest explosive events. They are seen as bright areas on the sun and last from mere minutes to several hours.

Scientists classify solar flares according to their x-ray brightness. There are 3 categories: X-, M- and C-class. X-class flares are the largest of these events. M-class flares are medium-sized; they can cause brief radio blackouts that affect Earth’s polar regions. Compared to X- and M-class, C-class flares are small with few noticeable consequences on Earth Image Credit: NASA/SDO

U.S. Education Reform and National Security


Task Force Report – Chairs: Joel I. Klein, Condoleezza Rice and Julia Levy – The United States’ failure to educate its students leaves them unprepared to compete and threatens the country’s ability to thrive in a global economy and maintain its leadership role, finds a new Council on Foreign Relations (CFR)–sponsored Independent Task Force report on U.S. Education Reform and National Security.

  • More than 25 percent of students fail to graduate from high school in four years; for African-American and Hispanic students, this number is approaching 40 percent.
  • Although the United States is a nation of immigrants, roughly eight in ten Americans speak only English and a decreasing number of schools are teaching foreign languages.
  • A recent report by ACT, the not-for-profit testing organization, found that only 22 percent of U.S. high school students met “college ready” standards in all of their core subjects.

The lack of preparedness poses threats on five national security fronts: economic growth and competitiveness, physical safety, intellectual property, U.S. global awareness, and U.S. unity and cohesion. Too many young people are not employable in an increasingly high-skilled and global economy, and too many are not qualified to join the military because they are physically unfit, have criminal records, or have an inadequate level of education. more> http://tinyurl.com/7623ah5

Loss of moderates is damaging Congress


Percentage of members of the House of Represen...

Percentage of members of the House of Representatives (as of May 13, 2008) from each party by state. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

By Rep. Dennis A. Cardoza (D-Calif.) – In politics, when your approval rating is below 50 percent, you’re on shaky ground. When you’re between 4 and 13 percent — as this Congress consistently is — you’re in revolution territory!

Over 40 percent of the voters in the nation identify themselves as “moderates.” However, less than 10 percent of the current members of Congress would self-identify the same way.

The situation is made worse by the “seniority system.” The most senior members with the safest (most partisan) districts stay the longest, gain the most clout, and become chairmen and leaders. The result is that the partisan skew is magnified. As Congress continues down this ever-increasing path of hyper-partisanship, the pressure on and frustration among sitting moderate members steadily increases until we choose to retire.

There are serious “real world” consequences for the lack of moderates in government. more> http://tinyurl.com/7yxzgog

What do you think will happen?


Laser Balloons
NSF – What makes a red thing red? I bet you have a guess. Now put it to the test when we shine a high-powered laser on a red balloon. Does it pop? Does a red object absorb red light? Does it reflect red light? Does it do something different?

See the results in this science video that will challenge your expectations of science videos. This video gets you involved by asking you to make predictions and then, after you see the results, helps you to sort out your thinking. [VIDEO 5:27] more> http://tinyurl.com/8ydjjbb

Swiss Secrecy Besieged Makes Banks Fret World Money Lure Fading


By Elena Logutenkova – When UBS AG (UBSN) celebrated its 150th anniversary in Zurich last month with 600 guests dining on Ossetra caviar and Wagyu beef, there was no jubilation in the executives’ speeches.

Trust “cannot be tied to a far-dated founding year; trust constantly has to be won anew,” Chairman Kaspar Villiger told guests at the dinner prepared by Philippe Rochat, the Swiss chef whose restaurant is one of two in the country to earn three Michelin stars. “Reputation is the most important capital for a bank. It takes just a thoughtless action to lose it and the sweat of thousands to rebuild it.”

Switzerland is the biggest manager of offshore wealth in the world, with about a 27 percent share, according to the Boston Consulting Group’s 2011 Global Wealth report. Clients from Germany, Italy, Saudi Arabia, the U.S. and France make up about 42 percent of all offshore wealth managed in the country. more> http://tinyurl.com/74evop9