Sci/Tech briefs

Astronauts vote from space station

Commander Edward Michael Fincke and Flight Engineer and Science Officer Greg Chamitoff are currently orbiting in space and working in the International Space Station.
However, a 1970 bill passed by Texas gives them the right to vote from space.

An electronic ballot will be e-mailed to the crew members with credentials which will allow them to cast their vote and then e-mail it back to the County Clerk’s office to be counted officially.
In addition, Fincke and Chamitoff sent a special message that is going to be airing on NASA TV encouraging citizens to exercise their civic duty and right to vote.

Source: Science Daily

Hubble Space Telescope fixed

After a month of computer problems, the Hubble Telescope is back on its feet.

However, because of the problems, NASA had to postpone the October launch of the space shuttle Atlantis with seven astronauts, who were set out to upgrade Hubble, to February.
The first picture taken by Hubble after the glitches were sorted out was of a pair of galaxies locked gravitationally, known as Apr 147, that are located more than 400 million light years away in the constellation Cetus.

Despite a previous public protest to abandoning the telescope, James Webb Space Telescope is scheduled to replace the Hubble Space Telescope in 2013.

Source: Reuters

Signs of old tsunami discovered

Researchers in Thailand and Indonesia have discovered through sedimentary evidence that a tsunami as deadly as the one in 2004 struck the same areas about 600 years ago.
Kruawan Jankaew of Chulalongkorn University in Thailand claims that although tsunamis are infrequent, it is crucial to promote tsunami education, especially to the coastal areas that will be most affected by them.

Two teams, one led by Jankaew and the other by Katrin Monecke from the University of Pittsburgh, investigated areas where the 2004 tsunami reached wave heights of 65 and 115 feet.
They discovered in the swales, which are the areas between beach ridges that trap sand from tsunamis between layers of organic matter, a layer of sand before the most recent tsunami that dates back 600 or 700 years.

Source: The New York Times

Humans blamed for polar warming

According to recent research conducted by the Climatic Research Unit at the UK’s University of East Anglia, the warming trends of the poles have been influenced by human activity. The climatic research unit at UEA simulated models based on the natural forcings, such as volcanic activity, and anthropogenic forces, such as greenhouse gases, and discovered that the accelerations in the warming are not consistent with these natural effects.

The data conclusively pointed to human activity as the cause of global warming.

The data, which linked the polar warming to human activity, was published in an article in the journal Nature Geoscience.