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A harbinger is a sign of things to come. Throughout history and literature, harbingers and omens figure prominently, and are responsible for major decisions which have altered the course of both.

Topic Ideas

  • Height Of Large Waves Changes According To Month [17], [18], [19], [20], [21]
  • Mathematicians Take Aim At 'Phantom' Traffic Jams: New Model Could Help Design Better Roads [22], [23]

In The News

  • Professor Henry Louis Gates was arrested last week outside of his home in Cambridge for disorderly conduct. Obama says that the Cambridge police "acted stupidly", and supports Gates claim that the arrest was racially motivated. International Association of Chiefs of Police support actions taken by Sgt. Crowley.-read more






World's Largest Telescope to be Built in Hawaii

An idea that began around six years ago, the Thirty Meter Telescope is one step closer to coming to fruition. The board of directors of the TMT Observatory Corporation selected Mauna Kea as the preferred site for the Thirty Meter Telescope on July 21st 2009. When completed the TMT will be the world's largest telescope, dwarfing the second largest - also located on Mauna Kea.

The Telescope

The telescopes mirror stretches nearly 100 feet in diameter composed of 492 segments, and will be so large that it can gather light that will have spent 13 billion years traveling to earth. This will enable astronomers to detect and study light from the earliest stars and galaxies, analyze the formation of planets around nearby stars, and test many of the fundamental laws of physics.

The TMT can do this by the latest innovations in precision control, segmented mirror design, and adaptive optics to correct for the blurring effect of Earth’s atmosphere, allowing the TMT to mimic the results of a telescope in space.

Choosing the Site

The TMT Observatory Corporation conducted a global satellite survey and selected five outstanding site candidates for further ground-based studies of atmospheric stability, wind patterns, temperature variation, and other meteorological characteristics that would affect the performance of the telescope.

After the ground based studies were performed, Mauna Kea and Cerro Armazones were selected in May 2008 for environmental, financial, and cultural impact studies. Richard Ellis, a board member of the TMT Observatory Corporation, told reporters that one of the deciding factors was that Mauna Kea is at a higher elevation, its air is drier and its average temperature fluctuates less during the course of the day

Public Reaction

By and large, the decision to locate the TMT on Mauna Kea was well received. Many universities expressed excitement at the decision. Researchers and students at the University of Hawaii are particularly excited, as they have been promised a share of the TMT's observation time.

On the other hand, Native Hawaiian and environmental groups have protested the new building site. According to Native Hawaiian tradition, high altitudes are sacred, and a gateway to heaven. In Ancient Hawaii only Kahuna (chiefs) and Ali`i (Priests) were allowed at Mauna Kea's peak. Mauna Kea, and it's sister volcano Mauna Loa, are at the center of an important Native Hawaiian legend. According to the legend, Mauna Kea is (or depending on the teller, it could simply be the place of residence for) the goddess Poliahu, and Mauna Loa is (or is the residence of) the rival goddess Pele. The mountain is also home to one confirmed burial site and perhaps four more.

Environmentalists oppose the telescope on the grounds it would hurt some endangered species.


Giant Jellyfish Population Swells in Sea of Japan

Japanese researchers conducting marine surveys discovered alarming numbers of Nomura's Jellyfish floating towards the Sea of Japan. Nomura's Jellyfish can grow up to 6 ft (1.83 m) wide, and weigh more than 450 bs (Expression error: Missing operand for round. kg). Twice before - in 2005, and again in 2007 - Nomura's jellyfish have swarmed the Sea of Japan. Both times the enormous jellyfish destroyed fishermens nets, and poisoned the rest of the catch. Human injuries were rare, but there were reports of fatalities due to the massive jellyfishes noxious sting. Japanese scientists have speculated that the heavy rains in China's Yangtze River Delta may have created a current that is pushing the jellyfish flotilla to Japan. Another theory suggests that warmer seas caused by global warming have created more favorable breeding conditions, causing the jellyfishes numbers to swell.

Impact on the Economy

As the jellyfish float in they get caught in fishermens nets, often leaving the net completely useless. Fishermen in the area often use expensive labyrinthine nets that can stretch for hundreds of kilometres. Usually the nets are owned by large communities of fishermen, and in some cases the entire fishing community. When the jellyfish destroy the nets, the communities that owned the nets are economically devastated. In most cases the communities entire livelihood depends on the fishing industry, and few can afford to lose nets to the jellyfish.

The swarms in 2005 and 2007 have prompted the Japanese government to put a warning system in place for fishermen. When the Jellyfish get close, the alarm will sound, and fishermen will pull in their nets. They still lose the fish they may have caught while the jellyfish are in the area, but they don't have to worry about losing their nets anymore.


Fourth Aircraft In Three Days Crashes in Afghanistan

On Monday, July 20, 2009, a jet aircraft crashed in southern Afghanistan, the fourth wreck in three days. As it was going down, the crew ejected safely, and were treated for minor injuries. According to United States Air Force spokesman Lt. Colonel Paul Kolken, the role of insurgents has been ruled out. Military officials did not identify the type of jet that crashed, the nationality of the crew, or any speculation as to the true cause of the crash.

On Sunday, both a military and civilian helicopter went down, though in separate areas. The military helicopter had a "rough landing", but no one was seriously injured according to NATO. The civilian helicopter went down immediately after take off from Kandahar airfield, killing sixteen people.

On Saturday a United States Air Force F-15E Strike Eagle fighter-bomber crashed in central Afghanistan killing both crew members. The U.S. statement did not say exactly where the crash happened. Afghan authorities said the plane went down in the Nawur district of Ghazni province in central Afghanistan, a peaceful area populated by the ethnic Hazara minority. According to Afghan authorities, the local people alerted the police to the crash, but by the time they arrived at the scene U.S. troops had cordoned off the area and would not allow them to pass. According to the air component of United States Central Command, says the crash was not attributable to hostile fire, and that a board of officers would convene to determine the cause of the crash.

According to NATO's International Security Assistance Force, none of the aircraft were shot down.


Prof. Gates Arrested, Claims Racial Motivation

On Thursday, July 16th, Professor Henry Louis Gates was arrested outside his home for disorderly conduct. According to the official police report Sgt. James Crowley had been responding to a call from neighbour Lucia Whalen that she observed what appeared to be two black males with backpacks attempting to force their way into the residence. Sgt. Crowley then observed an older black man standing in the foyer of the residence in question, later identified to be gates. According to the report, Sgt. Crowley asked the man to step out onto the porch to speak with him, to which the man replied "No I will not." after which he demanded that Sgt. Crowley identify himself. Sgt. Crowley then told him that he was investigating a possible break in progress, which Gates interrupted with "Why? Because I'm a black man in America?". Crowley continued to ask routine questions, inquiring about any other people in the residence and asking to see identification. Gates remained uncooperative and demanded to see Sgt. Crowley's identification first, all the while yelling threats. After ascertaining that Gates was affiliated with Harvard, Sgt. Crowley told Gates that he was going to leave the residence. Gates responded with "Ya, I'll speak with your mama outside". As Sgt. Crowley left the residence Gates continued to follow him and shouting that he was a racist cop, and that "you haven't heard the last of this". Sgt. Crowley then warned Gates that he was becoming disorderly which Gates ignored, and continued to yell in full public view.

The Cambridge Police Department has since dropped all charges against Professor Gates, and released him. Since then Gates has gone on several high level news media outlets claiming that Sgt. Crowley is a racial police officer, and that race is what motivated the arrest. He has publicly asked Sgt. Crowley to apologize for his actions. President Barack Obama is on record as saying "The Cambridge Police acted stupidly". Obama has also acknowledged that Gates is a friend of his.

Sgt. Crowley, in a radio interview, stated that what his actions were justifiable in the situation. He explains that he asked for Gates to speak with him outside for his personal safety, and the safety of Gates. He explained that, had Gates been attempting to break in, he didn't want to be alone in the house with him, and if not, he wanted to get Gates out of the house in case anyone had managed to break in and was still there. He said that he will offer no apology, and claims that Gates was out of line in his actions. "That apology will never come from me as Jim Crowley. It won't come from me as sergeant in the Cambridge Police Department," Crowley told Boston radio station WEEI. "Whatever anybody else chooses to do in the name of the city of Cambridge or the Cambridge Police Department, which are beyond my control, I don't worry about that. I know what I did was right. I have nothing to apologize for."

The commissioner for the Cambridge Police Department has said that the incident is regrettable, but that Sgt. Crowley had responded as his training dictated.

In a statement, the International Association of Chiefs of Police expressed disappointment in Obama's remarks. "Police chiefs understand that it is critically important to have all the facts on any police matter before drawing conclusions or making any public statement," said Russell B. Laine, association president and chief of the Algonquin, Illinois, police department, in the statement. "For these reasons, the IACP was disappointed in the president's characterization of the Cambridge Police Department."