Tuesday, November 27, 2012

sepia officinalis

when new wells meet old wells

In February 1932, the United States was in the midst of the Great Depression. Franklin Roosevelt was plotting a run for the White House. And in northeast Pennsylvania, the Morris Run Coal Co. had just finished drilling a 5,385-foot-deep gas well on a farm owned by Mr. W.J. Butters.
Eighty years and four months later, the Butters well was tied to another incident — even though it had been inactive for generations. It played a key role in a methane gas leak that led to a 30-foot geyser of gas and water spraying out of the ground for more than a week.
Methane is an odorless, colorless gas that exists naturally below the surface. It isn't poisonous, but it's dangerous. When enough methane gathers in an enclosed space — a basement or a water well, for instance — it can trigger an explosion.
The gas didn't come from the Butters well, nor did it originate from the Marcellus Shale formation that three nearby Shell wells had recently tapped into. What most likely happened to cause the geyser in June, Shell and state regulators say, was something of a chain reaction. As Shell was drilling and then hydraulically fracturing its nearby well, the activity displaced shallow pockets of natural gas. The gas disturbed by Shell's drilling moved underground until it found its way to the Butters well, and then shot up to the surface.
Companies have been extracting oil and gas from Pennsylvania's subsurface since 1859, when Edwin Drake drilled the world's first commercial oil well. Over that 150-year period, as many as 300,000 wells have been drilled, an unknown number of them left behind as hidden holes in the ground. Nobody knows how many because most of those wells were drilled long before Pennsylvania required permits, record-keeping or any kind of regulation.
It's rare for a modern drilling operation to intersect with an abandoned well. But incidents like Shell's Tioga County geyser are a reminder of the dangers these many unplotted holes in the ground can cause when Marcellus or Utica Shale wells are drilled nearby.
New Well Meets Old Well
Fred Baldassare worked at Pennsylvania's Department of Environmental Protection for 25 years. He spent more than half his career investigating cases of methane migration, where gas from wells, coal mines, landfills or other sources broke loose and made its way to the surface.
Baldassare investigated more than 200 different episodes. Only a handful of them, he says — perhaps five or six — involved an active drilling site communicating with an abandoned oil or gas well. But when the new and old operations did intersect, Baldassare says, the results were often "dramatic."
When energy companies drill down to the Marcellus Shale, deep below the surface, their wells pass through several smaller, shallow gas formations. Drillers go to great lengths to seal off their gas wells, and Pennsylvania regulations require companies to bond their multiple layers of steel casing with top-grade cement. Most of the time, this casing prevents the shallow gas from moving to the surface.
But if an old, unplugged gas well has been drilled into the same formation already, the new activity can displace pockets of gas, through pressure changes and physical interaction. Baldassare explains, "that gas can move to the old well, because [the well] represents a low-pressure zone and a natural migration highway.
"Gas always wants to go from high pressure to low pressure," Baldassare continues. "That old well represents a low-pressure zone. Much like water wants to move downhill, gas wants to move to low-pressure zones." The lowest pressure is near the surface, so once the gas reaches an old well, it will shoot straight up.
And a new well doesn't need to be present to trigger this migration. Gas can migrate to the surface through these pathways on its own. The state has investigated dozens of cases where unknown wells have led to gas pooling in basements, water wells or other locations.
So it's critical for regulators and drillers to find these wells before it's too late. That's much easier said than done, though. In the decades since these wells have been drilled, towns have been built over top of them, vegetation has covered them up, and the physical signs of wells — metal casing and pipes — have been removed by scrap collectors. The result: Oftentimes, the first indication of a well's presence is a methane gas leak at the surface.
The best guess of both the state and the energy industry is that somewhere in the neighborhood of 325,000 wells have been drilled in Pennsylvania since Drake's. Of those, about 120,000 have state permits on file. "Just do the math," Gene Pine of Pennsylvania's Department of Environmental Protection says. "There's probably close to 200,000 wells that are largely or relatively unaccounted for in the commonwealth."
So finding old wells can require a good amount of forensic work. To find one, you can employ high-tech radar or use a musty antique survey map. Whatever method you choose, it's going to be a time-intensive effort.npr

saturns moons

What you're seeing there is the infrared image taken of the moon Mimas in 2010 and the other is of the moon Tethys taken this year. The red and yellow areas show the warmest places on the moon.
"Finding a second Pac-Man in the Saturn system tells us that the processes creating these Pac-Men are more widespread than previously thought," said Carly Howett, the lead author of a paper explaining the findings, which was published in the journal Icarus.
As NASA writes in a press release, it's an odd shape, but scientists think they know how it came to be.
NASA reports:
"Scientists theorize that the Pac-Man thermal shape on the Saturnian moons occurs because of the way high-energy electrons bombard low latitudes on the side of the moon that faces forward as it orbits around Saturn. The bombardment turns that part of the fluffy surface into hard-packed ice. As a result, the altered surface does not heat as rapidly in the sunshine or cool down as quickly at night as the rest of the surface, similar to how a boardwalk at the beach feels cooler during the day but warmer at night than the nearby sand. Finding another Pac-Man on Tethys confirms that high-energy electrons can dramatically alter the surface of an icy moon. Also, because the altered region on Tethys, unlike on Mimas, is also bombarded by icy particles from Enceladus' plumes, it implies the surface alteration is occurring more quickly than its recoating by plume particles." npr

Monday, November 26, 2012

Saturday, November 24, 2012


Mensa is the largest and oldest high IQ society in the world. It is a non-profit organization open to people who score at the 98th percentile or higher on a standardised, supervised IQ or other approved intelligence test. Mensa is formally composed of national groups and the umbrella organisation Mensa International, with a registered office in Caythorpe, Lincolnshire, England. Roland Berrill, an Australian barriester, and Dr Lancelot War, a British scientist and lawyer, founded Mensa at Lincoln College, in Oxford, England, in 1946. They had the idea of forming a society for very intelligent people, the only qualification for membership being a high IQ. It was to be non-political and free from all social distinctions (racial, religious, etc). Mensa's requirement for membership is a score at or above the 98th percentile on certain standardised IQ or other approved intelligence tests, such as the Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scales. The minimum accepted score on the Stanford-Binet is 132, while for the Cattell it is 148. Most IQ tests are designed to yield a mean score of 100 with a standard deviation of 15; the 98th-percentile score under these conditions is 130.82.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012


There is some debate over whether recycling is economically efficient. Municipalities often see fiscal benefits from implementing recycling programs, largely due to the reduced landfill costs. A study conducted by the Technical University of Denmark according to the Economist found that in 83 percent of cases, recycling is the most efficient method to dispose of household waste.
Fiscal efficiency is separate from economic efficiency. Economic analysis of recycling includes what economists call externalities, which are unpriced costs and benefits that accrue to individuals outside of private transactions. Examples include: decreased air pollution and greenhouse gases from incineration, reduced hazardous waste leaching from landfills, reduced energy consumption, and reduced waste and resource consumption, which leads to a reduction in environmentally damaging mining and timber activity. About 4000 minerals are known, of these only a few hundred minerals in the world are relatively common.At current rates, current known reserves of phosphorus will be depleted in the next 50 to 100 years.
Environmental effects of recycling
Material Energy savings Air Pollution savings
Aluminum 95% 95%
Cardboard 24%  —
Glass 5–30% 20%
Paper 40% 73%
Plastics 70%  —
Steel 60%  —

Sunday, November 18, 2012

NYC carbon emissions

Cities, even rich ones, perform differently. In this list of 12, 
starting with the dirtiest, New York comes in fifth. 
These are greenhouse gas emissions per person 
(What's with Washington?):
  1. Washington, D.C., U.S. — 19.7 tons of CO2 equivalent
  2. Glasgow, UK — 8.4 tons
  3. Toronto, Canada — 8.2 tons
  4. Shanghai, China — 8.1 tons
  5. New York City, U.S. — 7.1 tons
  6. Beijing, China — 6.9 tons
  7. London, U.K. — 6.2 tons
  8. Tokyo, Japan — 4.8 tons
  9. Seoul, South Korea — 3.8 tons
  10. Barcelona, Spain — 3.4 tons
  11. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil — 2.3 tons
  12. Sao Paulo, Brazil — 1.5 tons
Cities differ because some have lots of factories, some don't.
Some have more refrigerators, air conditioners, fancy appliances
than others. Some have more modern, tighter buildings, more
office towers, more public transit. (Washington is warmer,
often stifling, is that why it's such an emitter? Can we blame air
conditioning?) npr

everyone wants to kill me


black is a shade

USA's vs. China's leader

diamond shapes

hurricane comin' our way

Friday, November 16, 2012

luck of the irish

enormous wall art


Carnotaurus was a large predatory dinosaur. Only one species,Carnotaurus sastrei has been described so far. Carnotaurus lived inPatagonia, Argentina (La Colonia Formation) during the Campanian orMaastrichtian stage of the Late CretaceousCarnotaurus was a large theropod, about 8 m (26 ft) in length, weighing between 1488 kg and 2626 kg (1.6–2.9 short tons)…

RGB Carnovsky

RGB Carnovsky
“RGB is a work about the exploration of the “surface’s deepness”. RGB designs create surfaces that mutate and interact with different chromatic stimulus. RGB’s technique consists in the overlapping of three different images, each one in a primary color. The resulting images from this three level’s superimposition are unexpected and disorienting. The colors mix up, the lines and shapes entwine becoming oneiric and not completely clear. Through a colored filter (a light or a transparent material) it is possible to see clearly the layers in which the image is composed. The filter’s colors are red, green and blue, each one of them serves to reveal one of the three layers.”

ancient dugong

Ancient Pygmy Sea Cow Discovered
A McGill University researcher has discovered a near-complete skull of a primitive “dugong” illuminating a virtually unknown period in Madagascar fossil history.
The discovery of a Middle Eocene (48.6-37.2 million years ago) sea cow fossil by McGill University professor Karen Samonds has culminated in the naming of a new species. This primitive “dugong” is among the world’s first fully-aquatic sea cows, having evolved from terrestrial herbivores that began exploiting coastal waters. Within this ancient genus, the newly discovered species is unusual as it is the first species known from the southern hemisphere (its closest relatives are from Egypt and India), and is extremely primitive in its skull morphology and dental adaptations.
The fossil is a pivotal step in understanding Madagascar’s evolutionary history — as it represents the first fossil mammal ever named from the 80-million-year gap in Madagascar’s fossil record.
The research is to be published in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontologyon December 12…
(read more: Science Daily)            (McGill University)
Above story reprinted from materials provided by McGill University.

dromaeosaurus canadian mint

“The Royal Canadian Mint introduces the 2010 Dromaeosaurus silver proof coin, the fourth and last coin in the Dinosaurs series celebrating Western Canada’s reputation as a treasure trove of fossil specimens
Dromaeosaurus (or “running lizard”) was one of two raptor species that lived in Albertabetween 74 and 76 million years ago when the province and neighboring Saskatchewanwere the lush subtropical shore of a great inland sea. These dinosaurs ran upright on their two hind legs. They measured about 2.5 m (8.25 ft) from head to tail and would normally weigh less than 20 kg (44 lb). They had clawed hands on their fore limbs and sharp, recurved teeth that were perfectly designed for slicing into prey.”

gimme shelter

Oh, a storm is threat'ning
My very life today
If I don't get some shelter
Oh yeah, I'm gonna fade away

War, children, it's just a shot away
It's just a shot away
War, children, it's just a shot away
It's just a shot away

Ooh, see the fire is sweepin'
Our very street today
Burns like a red coal carpet
Mad bull lost its way

War, children, it's just a shot away
It's just a shot away
War, children, it's just a shot away
It's just a shot away

Rape, murder!
It's just a shot away
It's just a shot away

Rape, murder!
It's just a shot away
It's just a shot away

Rape, murder!
It's just a shot away
It's just a shot away

The floods is threat'ning
My very life today
Gimme, gimme shelter
Or I'm gonna fade away

War, children, it's just a shot away
It's just a shot away
It's just a shot away
It's just a shot away
It's just a shot away

I tell you love, sister, it's just a kiss away
It's just a kiss away
It's just a kiss away
It's just a kiss away
It's just a kiss away
Kiss away, kiss away

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

roy waldo miner

Artist: Roy Waldo Miner
Miner, R. W. (1950). Field Book of Seashore Life. New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons.


Lysorophus is a genus of Lysorophia, extinct Permian Lepospondyl tetrapods. Most of the specimens are found from North America and attributed to the first formally described species Lysorophus tricarinatusdue to the lack of diagnostic characters, but several other species have been described. Lysorophus were small salamander-like amphibians. They lived in fresh water, aestivating in burrows during dry periods.

vampire squid

Vampire Squid Illustration, 1889
This Smithsonian Snapshot celebrates the Halloween season with this 1889 scientific illustration of a vampire squid from Smithsonian Libraries.
Its jet-black skin, the caped appearance of the webbing between its arms and eyes that appear red under some light conditions are what gave the vampire squid its name.
In 1889, Prince Albert I of Monaco began writing the series R├ęsultats des campagnes scientifiques accomplies sur son yacht. The series, including the volume with this vampire squid illustration, is held for research at the Smithsonian Institution Libraries.
In the early 1900s, the prince’s strong interest in protecting the world’s oceans and discovering new species led him to establish the Fondation Albert Ier. The foundation promoted his research in the field of oceanography and marine biology.
The vampire squid (Vampyroteuthis infernalis) is the single living representative of the cephalopod group known as the Vampyromorpha. It is a small, deep-sea species found at depths of at least 2,000 to 3,000 feet in the temperate and tropical oceans of the world.
It reaches a maximum total length of around 30 centimeters with a 15-centimeter gelatinous body similar to a jelly fish. It shares similarities with both squid and octopuses. In 1903, it was classified as an octopus by German teuthologist Carl Chun, but later reassigned to a new order.
To learn more about the vampire squid in the wild, visit the Encyclopedia of Life.
This object is one of 137 million artifacts, works of art and specimens in the Smithsonian’s collection. It is currently not on display but is digitized in the Biodiversity Heritage Library. To learn more about this item, visit the Smithsonian Institution Libraries website.

NFL is a nonprofit?

The word nonprofit evokes the image of a charity or a church, an educational institution, public radio station. But David Evans of Bloomberg Markets Magazine took a closer look at the world of nonprofits and discovered something that he considered suspicious. Even though many nonprofits make millions and millions in profits, they pay no taxes.
DAVID EVANS: We took a look, for example, at the American Bureau of Shipping, which sounds like it might even be a federal agency, but it's actually a nonprofit. It's been around for 150 years. And during the seven years we looked at them, through 2010, they've earned $600 million in profits. They paid their CEO more than $20 million over the seven-year period that we looked at, and they don't resemble in many ways what you expect when you think about a nonprofit.
INSKEEP: So let me make sure that I understand what's happening here. Because, of course, there have always been nonprofits in this country. Charities have been nonprofits. Religious institutions have been operated as nonprofits. Hospitals, some of them are nonprofits. Media companies can be, NPR - just as a matter of full disclosure - is a nonprofit organization. Local public radio stations and television stations are. But you're saying that this is spreading into other kinds of business, or it has spread into other kinds of business?
EVANS: Yeah. And typically, a nonprofit hospital, for example, is going to be spending their profits quote/unquote "on providing services to the community." Here, the remarkable thing that we found was, in the case of the American Bureau of Shipping, they'd made $600 million in profits and rather than turning that back into either reducing their charges or spending most of that money on research or donations, they're doing things like sending $60 million in one year to a hedge fund in the Cayman Islands.
INSKEEP: So when you called the American Bureau of Shipping and asked them about their nonprofit status what did they say?
EVANS: Well, they point out that they're not doing anything that violates the law, although they did remarkably tell me that most countries where they operate around the world are not nearly as generous to them as the United States tax code is. They just were forced to pay $20 million in back taxes by China. They lost a case in South Africa, where they were found to be a for-profit company having to pay taxes. They paid taxes in England and across the European Union. The one big place where they don't have to pay taxes is the United States.
INSKEEP: So you said that they are treated more generously under U.S. law. Had there been any discussions within these institutions of changing their status?
EVANS: Interestingly, the Professional Baseball Association had been a nonprofit, it became a for-profit.
INSKEEP: Let's remind people, this is Major League Baseball we're talking about here.
EVANS: Right.
INSKEEP: The teams have always been for-profit, but the overarching institution was nonprofit for while, you're saying.
EVANS: Right. Major League Baseball had been nonprofit. They converted to for-profit. However, the National Football League, the National Hockey Association, they're still nonprofits.
INSKEEP: The National Football League, which negotiates multimillion dollar television contracts, there are nonprofit?
EVANS: Yeah. The same guys that pay 11-plus million dollars to their commissioner, they're a nonprofit.
INSKEEP: So who is losing here?
EVANS: Well, obviously, the United States is facing a giant budget crunch. And the issue raised by Dean Zerbe, who used to be tax counsel for the Senate Finance Committee is, why are these companies that walk, talk and quack like a taxpaying business being allowed to not pay taxes? The Treasury could collect tens of billions of dollars each year in taxes from nonprofits that are basically acting like for-profit companies.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012


hutton’s observation of unconformity at jedburgh

anatomical petrification

A skeleton in the Capella Sansevero, an ancient Italian church which has been turned into a private museum of anatomical petrification. The skeleton was given an injection before death which somehow preserved all veins, arteries and capillaries. (Photo by Evans/Three Lions/Getty Images). Circa 1955



Oarfish are large, greatly elongated, pelagic Lampriform fishes comprising the small family Regalecidae. Found in all temperate to tropical oceans yet rarely seen.
One of these, the king of herrings (Regalecus glesne), is listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the longest bony fish alive, at up to 17 metres (56 ft) in length.

enbryogenesis in humans

The first few weeks of embryogenesis in humans. Beginning at the fertilised egg, ending with the closing of the neural tube.


For decades, geologists have used strange microscopic, toothlike fossils called conodonts to date Paleozoic marine sediments without having any idea what kind of creature originally possessed these elements. The discovery in the early 1980s of fossils of complete conodont animals (also called Conodontophora, meaning “conodont-bearing”) showed that conodont elements belonged to a small early marine vertebrate. As of 2012, scientists classify conodonts in the phylum Chordata.