"Leon Panetta was in the small handful of people who knew there was a terrorism problem long before anybody else had heard of al-Qaeda." — Richard A. Clarke [you’ve heard of him, right?]
"The Republicans' sudden reversion to the solemn frugality of their forebears would be amusing were it not so dangerous. Having established a record over the past decade or so as the wildest wastrels in the nation's history, they now present themselves as straight-laced accountants who simply cannot abide a misspent dime."
A pair of strong solar storms that hit Earth late last week were squalls compared to the torrent of electrons that rained down in the "perfect space storm" of 1859. And sooner or later, experts warn, the Sun will again conspire again send earthlings a truly destructive bout of space weather.(…)
The event 144 years ago was three times more powerful than the strongest space storm in modern memory, one that cut power to an entire Canadian province in 1989. A new account of the 1859 event, from research led by Bruce Tsurutani of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, details the most powerful onslaught of solar energy in recorded history. [via Doug]
Historical records tell us that from the beginning of March 536 AD, a fog of dust blanketed the atmosphere for 18 months. During this time, "the sun gave no more light than the moon", global temperatures plummeted and crops failed, says Dallas Abbott of Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory in New York. The cause has long been unknown, but theories have included a vast volcanic eruption or an impact from space.
Now Abbott and her team have found the first direct evidence that multiple impacts caused the haze. They found tiny balls of condensed rock vapour or "spherules" in debris inside Greenland ice cores dating back to early 536 AD. Though the spherules' chemistry suggests they did not belong to an impactor, they do point to terrestrial debris ejected into the atmosphere by an impact event, Abbott says. "This is the first concrete geological evidence for an impact at 536 AD." [via Doug Miller]