Dunkle Materie womöglich doch nicht so „dunkel“ wie gedacht

foto: eso/r. massey Diese „Hubble“-Aufnahme zeigt den Galaxienhaufen Abell 3827. Die bläulichen Strukturen, die die zentralen Galaxien des Clusters umgeben, sind Gravitationslinsenabbilder einer weiter entfernten Hintergrundgalaxie. Die Verteilung der Dunklen Materie ist mit blauen Konturen nachgezeichnet. Der Klumpen Dunkler Materie, der zur Galaxie links gehört, hat sich gegenüber der Position der Galaxie signifikant verschoben, was darauf hindeutet, dass Wechselwirkungen bislang unbekannter Art der Dunklen Materie mit sich selbst stattfinden könnten.
Astronomen finden Hinweis darauf, dass Dunkle Materie mit sich selbst wechselwirkt


Sie macht den überwiegenden Teil der Masse im Universum aus, und doch ist Dunkle Materie unsichtbar und allenfalls durch ihre gravitative Wirkungen nachzuweisen – zumindest war dies die bislang gängige Annahme. Nun aber haben britische Astrophysiker bei einer Kollision von vier Galaxien Hinweise darauf entdeckt, dass Dunkle-Materie-Teilchen einander auch durch eine andere schwachen Kraft beeinflusst.

Nach dem gegenwärtigen Verständnis befinden sich alle Galaxien innerhalb von Klumpen Dunkler Materie. Ohne die anziehende und somit zusammenhaltende Wirkung der Schwerkraft der Dunklen Materie würden Galaxien wie die Milchstraße auseinandergerissen, während sie rotieren. Um dies zu verhindern, müssen 85 Prozent der Masse des Universums als Dunkle Materie existieren. Dennoch bleibt deren wahre Natur ein Geheimnis.


Is It Finally Game Over for Ethanol?

Ethanol plant in West Burlington, Iowa. Image: ​Wiki
Remember ethanol? Once America’s magic elixir for energy independence, the biofuel has spent a few years out of the national limelight. Now, the corn ethanol industry is back in the headlines over a growing movement to strip the ethanol industry of federal subsidies and blend quotas, which guarantees sales to corn growers, and is decried as an unnecessary handout by critics.

By Leandro Oliva|MOTHERBOARD

At the same time, the corn ethanol industry continues to respond to criticisms that biofuels present little environmental benefit, and that the growing of staple crops like corn for use as fuel represents a threat to global food production.

The key to America’s corn ethanol industry’s future is the 2014 Renewable Fuel Standard, which for reasons that could make sense only to bureaucrats and their industry appendages, has yet to be determined, and will set ethanol production mandates and determine ethanol blend limits last set in 2005.

At the same time, the US shale gas boom has led to a slump in oil prices, and profit margins have been wiped out for many corn ethanol producers, some of which have already scaled back operations.

The next few months could well prove to be the moment of truth for the industry as a whole, as the one-two punch might bring the whole enterprise to a screeching halt. All of this is a far cry from what the situation was about a decade ago, so where did things go off the rails?

Historically, it was buoyed by Jimmy Carter’s move in 1980 to enact the Energy Security Act in the wake of the OPEC oil embargo, and given another bump upwards by amendments to the Clean Air Act by 1990 that required “oxygenates” in fuel to decrease smog. Blends of ethanol available in the Midwest’s corn belt met that requirement. Coincidentally, the other popular oxygenate used in the US is MTBE, a petroleum product.

Biofuels again became fashionable during the end of the Bush administration, when high oil prices and environmental concerns pushed the US government to redraw energy policy to address both high dependency on foreign oil producers, as well as emissions standards.

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Katholische Kirche will in der Hauptstadt präsenter sein

erzbistum_blnDie katholische Kirche hat große Pläne in der Bundeshauptstadt. Sie will „in Kultur und Wissenschaft, dem gesellschaftlich-sozialen Dialog und auf dem Gebiet der internationalen Beziehungen präsenter werden“, kündigte der Sekretär der Deutschen Bischofskonferenz, Pater Hans Langendörfer, am Samstag in Berlin an.


So prüfe eine Arbeitsgruppe der Bischöfe die Möglichkeiten, ein Wissenschaftskolleg zu gründen.

Das Gremium wolle bis zum Herbst 2016 ein Konzept vorlegen. Der Jesuit sprach vor dem Diözesanrat, der höchsten Laienvertretung der Erzdiözese Berlin. „Eine sehr viel bessere Vernetzung der vorhandenen Aktivitäten ist dringend erforderlich“, erklärte Langendörfer mit Blick auf die schon vorhandenen überdiözesanen Institutionen. Bisher laufe „zuviel nebeneinander her“. Überdies gebe die Bischofskonferenz „zumeist nur einzelne Zuschüsse, aber keine planvolle Hilfe“.


Chelsea Manning and the Deepwater Horizon Killings

Image: Greg Palast
The military whistleblower’s 2010 Wikileaks dump included information that could have saved the 11 BP workers who died that spring in the Gulf of Mexico oil rig disaster.

By Greg Palast|Truthdig

Five years ago Monday, 11 men died on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig — despite Chelsea Manning’s effort to save their lives.

Let me explain.

The BP drilling rig blew itself to Kingdom Come after the “mud” — the cement used to cap the well — blew out.

The oil company, the federal government and the industry were shocked — shocked! — at this supposedly unexpected explosion in the deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico.

But BP knew, and Exxon and Chevron knew, and the U.S. State Department knew, that just 17 months earlier another BP offshore rig had suffered an identical, disastrous blow-out halfway across the planet in the Caspian Sea.

In both the Gulf and Caspian blow-outs, the immediate culprit was the failure of the cement, in both cases caused by the use — misuse — of nitrogen in the cement mix, a money-saving but ultimately deadly measure intended to speed the cement’s drying.

The cover-up meant that U.S. regulators, the U.S. Congress and the public had no inkling that the cost-saving “quick-dry” cement process had failed on an offshore rig only a year before the Deepwater Horizon blew.

But Pvt. Chelsea (formerly Bradley) Manning tried to warn us. The details of the Caspian Sea blow-out off the coast of Baku, Azerbaijan, were revealed in the secret State Department cables Manning released in December 2010 through Wikileaks. Cables from the U.S. ambassador relayed a summary of confidential meetings in which BP’s top Azeri executive confided that their big Caspian offshore rig suffered a “blow-out” in September 2008 leading to the “largest such emergency evacuation in BP’s history” — its likely cause „a bad cement job.”

The message was relayed to Washington after BP’s American partners in the Caspian, Exxon and Chevron, asked the State Department to find out why BP had ceased to drill in the Caspian, costing them all millions. State, then headed by former Chevron board member Condoleezza Rice, got the oil chiefs their answer then joined them in keeping it secret.

(Not knowing about the Manning cables, I had to find out about the Caspian blowout the hard way. Just days after the Deepwater Horizon blowout, I received a tip from an eyewitness to the Caspian disaster. To determine the facts I flew to Baku, where my British TV crew and I found ourselves placed under arrest by a team of goons from the Azerbaijan secret police, the military and some of BP’s oil-well-insignia-sporting private security clowns. As a reporter for British television, I was quickly released—with the film of the bust captured on my little pen camera. But, terribly, two of my rig-worker witnesses disappeared.)

Had BP or the State Department ’fessed up to the prior blowout—a disclosure required by U.S. and British regulations—it is exceptionally unlikely that BP would have been allowed to use the quick-dry cement method in the deep Gulf of Mexico.

Indeed, there may have been a complete prohibition on the drilling, because Department of Interior experts had opposed deep drilling in that part of the Gulf. To lobby the government to allow drilling there, about six months before the Deepwater Horizon blew, BP executive David Rainey and the presidents of Exxon USA and Chevron testified before Congress that offshore drilling had been conducted for 50 years “in a manner both safe and protective of the environment.”

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