LARGEST QUAKES -
This morning -
None 5.0 or higher.
5.0 EASTERN SICHUAN, CHINA
5.2 XIZANG-NEPAL BORDER REGION
5.0 PHILIPPINE ISLANDS REGION
5.1 CENTRAL PERU
TROPICAL STORMS -
Typhoon MEGI was 168 nmi ENE of Baguio City, Philippines
Typhoon Megi - Thousands of people in the Philippines have fled their homes as Super-Typhoon Megi has begun to lash the north with heavy rains and strong winds. Emergency services are on high alert and schools have been closed in many areas as Megi bring winds of up to more than 280km/h (175mph). It is the strongest storm the Philippines has faced in four years.
The northern provinces of Cagayan and Isabela are on the highest storm alert. Officials have warned that the heavy rain and high winds could damage buildings, power supplies and agriculture. Government forecasters say waves off the east coast could be greater than 14m (46ft). Trucks, rescue boats and food packs have been pre-positioned near vulnerable areas. "This is like preparing for war. We know the past lessons and we're aiming for zero casualties." Farmers were being urged to harvest as many of their crops as possible before the typhoon hit. The area in the storm's path is one of the country's main rice-growing regions. Megi is expected to weaken to typhoon intensity as it crosses the Cordillera mountain range. However, it will then re-emerge into the South China Sea and re-intensify as it heads for southern China.
SPACE WEATHER -
NASA scientists say 103P/Hartley 2 is ONE OF THE MOST ACTIVE COMETS THEY'VE SEEN, with a huge atmosphere and copious outgassing from jets in the nucleus. "The tail now appears to be forking. And with a coma wider than 1 degree, Comet Hartley is now as impressive as Comet Holmes was in 2007, albeit more diffuse." The next few nights are the best time to see green Comet 103P/Hartley 2 as it approaches Earth for an 11-million-mile close encounter on Oct. 20th. Set your alarm for the dark hours before dawn, go outside, and look straight up. it is easy to find with binoculars. (photo)
A surprise display of Northern Lights spread across Greenland and Canada on Oct. 17th. "There was only a 20% chance of geomagnetic activity in my area, but the auroras took off," reports a viewer just north of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. The auroras were sparked by a fluctuation in the IMF: the interplanetary magnetic field tipped south, opening a hole in Earth's magnetosphere. Solar wind poured in and fueled the display. More auroras are possible on Oct. 19th and 20th when a solar wind stream is due to brush past Earth. (photo - same link as above)
NASA has announced that the coming year will be 'The Year of the Solar System'. "During YSS, we'll see triple the [usual] number of launches, flybys and orbital insertions. THERE HASN'T BEEN ANYTHING QUITE LIKE IT IN THE HISTORY OF THE SPACE AGE...These events will unfold over the next 23 months, the length of a year on the Red Planet [Mars]. History will remember the period Oct. 2010 through Aug. 2012 as a golden age of planetary exploration."
The action begins near the end of October 2010 with a visit to Comet Hartley 2. On Nov. 4th EPOXI will fly a mere 435 miles from Hartley's nucleus, mapping the surface and studying outbursts of gas at close-range. Later in November, NASA astrobiologists will launch O/OREOS, a shoebox-sized satellite designed to test the durability of life in space. The same rocket that delivers O/OREOS to space will carry an experimental solar sail. NanoSail-D will unfurl in Earth orbit and circle our planet for months. On December 7, 2010, Japan's Akatsuki (Venus Climate Orbiter) spacecraft grabs the spotlight when it enters orbit around Venus.
The action continues in 2011 as Stardust NExT encounters comet Tempel 1 (February 14), MESSENGER enters orbit around Mercury (March 18), and Dawn begins its approach to asteroid Vesta (May). Although Vesta is not classified as a planet, it is a full-fledged alien world that is expected to mesmerize researchers. Next comes the launch of the Juno spacecraft to Jupiter (August), the launch of GRAIL to map the gravitational field of the Moon (September), and the launch of a roving science lab named "Curiosity" to Mars (November). "The second half of 2011 will be as busy as some entire decades of the Space Age."
2012 opens with Mars rover Opportunity trundling toward the heart of Endeavour Crater, a city-sized impact basin almost two dozen miles from Opportunity's original landing site. Sometime in mid-2012, Opportunity will reach Endeavour's lip and look over the edge deeper into the heart of Mars than any previous robotic explorer. Meanwhile, halfway across the solar system, Dawn will fire up its ion engines and prepare to leave Vesta. For the first time in space history, a spacecraft orbiting one alien world will break orbit and take off for another. Dawn's next target is dwarf planet Ceres, nearly spherical, rich in water ice, and totally unexplored. The Year of the Solar System concludes in August 2012 when Curiosity lands on Mars. The roving nuclear-powered science lab will take off across the red sands sniffing the air for methane (a possible sign of life) and sampling rocks and soil for organic molecules. Curiosity's advanced sensors and unprecedented mobility are expected to open a new chapter in exploration of the Red Planet.
HEALTH THREATS -
Scientists suggest that cancer is purely man-made - Cancer is a modern, man-made disease caused by environmental factors such as pollution and diet, a study has strongly suggested. The disease rate has risen massively since the Industrial Revolution, in particular childhood cancer – proving that the rise is not simply due to people living longer. “In industrialised societies, cancer is second only to cardiovascular disease as a cause of death. But in ancient times, it was extremely rare. THERE IS NOTHING IN THE NATURAL ENIVRONMENT THAT CAN CAUSE CANCER. So it has to be a man-made disease, down to pollution and changes to our diet and lifestyle.”
“In an ancient society lacking surgical intervention, evidence of cancer should remain in all cases. The virtual absence of malignancies in mummies must be interpreted as indicating their rarity in antiquity, indicating that cancer causing factors are limited to societies affected by modern industrialization”. As the team moved through the ages, it was not until the 17th century that they found descriptions of operations for breast and other cancers and the first reports in scientific literature of distinctive tumours have only occurred in the past 200 years, such as cancer in chimney sweeps in 1775, nasal cancer in snuff users in 1761 and Hodgkin’s disease in 1832. “Yet again extensive ancient Egyptian data, along with other data from across the millennia, has given modern society a clear message – cancer is man-made and something that we can and should address.”
Deadly disease major threat to global public health - Dengue is a serious flu-like illness that is transmitted by mosquitoes, and can develop into dengue haemorrhagic fever, which can be fatal. The number of cases has more than doubled in the last decade. Dengue outbreaks are now a major threat to global public health. The UN health agency warned that unless countries act now then the situation will only get worse. Two-fifths of the world's population is at risk of the disease. Out of these 2.5 billion people, more than 70% live in Asia Pacific countries.