Daily Archives: September 26, 2011

Atlanta airport travelers evacuated as police and firefighters respond to bag of fish

Bag of fish empties baggage claim area at Atlanta airport

Atlanta Journal-Constitution | Sep 26, 2011

By David Ibata

Something fishy about a satchel left unattended Monday at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport turned out to be just that, Channel 2 Action News reports.

Half of the North Terminal baggage claim area was evacuated for about an hour, with travelers kept 200 feet away, as police and firefighters investigated the mysterious striped bag.

The incident began about noon when baggage handlers spotted the unattended satchel and started going through it to see if they could identify the owner.

They backed off when they found strange leaves and sheets of aluminum foil inside. The Atlanta Police Department bomb squad was called.

The contents of the bag turned out to be dead fish wrapped in leaves.

Police told Channel 2 that it’s not unusual for international travelers to bring in beef or fish and spice it up with herbs in their luggage.

Police threw the fish out. The bag’s owner remained unknown Monday afternoon.

Britain to be hit by SNOW in October… forecasters warn an early winter is on its way


Chilly predictions: Scotland and the north are to face the worst weather, including possible ‘blizzard-like conditions’ (the Meadows in Edinburgh pictured last December)

Daily Mail | Sep 20, 2011

By Jessica Satherley

Britain is about to experience an early winter, with snow expected to arrive as soon as next month, forecasters have warned.

Temperatures over the next three months will plummet to below average with one long-range forecaster predicting snowfalls in October.

James Madden, of Exacta Weather, said: ‘I expect to see the first signs of some moderate to heavy snowfalls as early as October or November in certain parts of the UK.

‘I expect December, January and February to experience below-average temperatures, with the heaviest snowfall occurring within the time frame of November to January across many parts of the UK.

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‘Huge swirly low-pressure systems also offer the potential for widespread disruption from heavy snowfall across many parts of the UK including the South, as they clash with the predominant cold air.’

He added that Scotland and the North would face the worst weather, including possible ‘blizzard-like conditions’.

The UK and Ireland have also been forecast to experience extreme cold conditions and snow from the Arctic for prolonged periods.

Netweather forecaster Paul Michaelwaite has also predicted ‘widespread’ snowfall as early as November.

He told the Daily Express: ‘Over the past four years November snow has not been rare at all, and with temperatures below the average there is the chance of some widespread falls.’

Meanwhile, The Met Office has said that below average temperatures in October mean there is a chance of upcoming overnight frosts, which would be seen predominantly in the Midlands and south-east.

And Weather Services International agreed that October, November and December would be hit with temperatures approximately two degrees lower than the average.

WSI’s chief meteorologist, Dr Todd Crawford, told the Express: ‘We currently expect the coldest temperatures to be confined to western Europe.’

Last winter parts of the UK experienced up to 30 inches of snow and temperatures fell to -19C.

The UK has already been hit by Hurricane Katia this month, which has left Britain’s clean-up bill at around £100 million, experts said last week.

The storm was the worst Britain has seen in 15 years after winds of up to 80mph left a trail of devastation.

NYPD air power couldn’t have averted 9/11 attacks, Bloomberg says

“New York City Police Department has lots of capabilities you don’t know about and you won’t know about them,” Bloomberg said.

nypost.com | Sep 26, 2011

By DAVID SEIFMAN

The NYPD’s air strike capability couldn’t have averted the terror attacks on 9/11, Mayor Bloomberg said today.

“It certainly does not mean 9/11 wouldn’t have occurred,” the mayor said following an education conference in midtown. “9/11, there’s been plenty written about whether there were enough telltale signs, and people should have known and nobody listened, and that sort of thing. It’s not my job to rehash history. Our job is to make sure that we stay safe going forward and that we show that the terrorists didn’t win and that New York City is back.”

The mayor discussed the security-sensitive issue — first disclosed by Police Commissioner Ray Kelly on “60 Minutes” — only in generalities and without providing further details of the NYPD’s firepower.

“New York City Police Department has lots of capabilities you don’t know about and you won’t know about them,” Bloomberg said.

“I can’t guarantee that you’re safe forever or perfectly safe. What I can tell you is that in 10 years we seem to have stopped a number — and who knows how many additional that we don’t know about — to have terrorism here, while terrorism did rear its ugly head tragically in other places.”

NYPD chief: We could bring planes down with .50 cal guns


New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, left, is credited with shaping the NYPD’s counter-terror effort. Mary Altaffer  /  AP

Counter-terror measures to be used only in a ‘very extreme situation,’ commissioner says

msnbc.com | Sep 26, 2011

NEW YORK — The New York Police Department could take down a plane if necessary, Commissioner Ray Kelly said Sunday, describing the counter-terror measures he implemented after the Sept. 11 attacks.

Kelly decided the city couldn’t rely on the federal government alone after the attacks, he told CBS’ “60 Minutes”.

And so he set about creating the NYPD’s own counter-terrorism unit, which is prepared for multiple scenarios and could even take down a plane, he said.

“I knew that we had to supplement, buttress our defenses of this city,” Kelly told “60 Minutes”.

“We couldn’t rely on the federal government alone. I believed that we had to create our own counter-terrorism capacity, indeed our own counter-terrorism division. And, that plan was put into effect fairly rapidly,” he added.

Kelly didn’t divulge details about the NYPD’s ability to take down a plane but said “obviously this would be in a very extreme situation.”

Deputy Commissioner Paul Browne later added that “NYPD Aviation has weapons that could be deployed with that capability,” the New York Post reported Monday.

Police sources told The Post that Kelly and Browne were referring to Barrett .50 caliber rifles that can be mounted on most police helicopters. The bullets can rip through cockpit glass as well as fuselage, and their force has been compared to that of a bazooka.

The rifles are stored in an NYPD safe and are deployed only for “special occasions,” such as when the president is in town, the sources added.

Other law-enforcement sources told NBC News that a third crew member joins the helicopter pilot and copilot to operate the rifle. Attached to a sling and with a side door on the chopper open, the weapon can be used to disable a boat or a small aircraft, the sources said.

The idea for this added layer of security came amid the earlier threat that Al-Qaida might use small aircraft such as crop dusters to spread chemical or biological weapons.

The NYPD would not try to intercept an airliner, the sources added.

The Coast Guard and military have helicopters equipped with similar weaponry. NYPD officers train with the .50 caliber on the ground at ranges and have conducted exercises in their choppers at Fort Dix and other bases, the sources said.

NYPD’s acquisition of the rifles was first announced in 2005.

International presence

Kelly also told “60 Minutes” that the NYPD has intelligence officers stationed in cities around the world, including Abu Dhabi, Amman, Montreal, Toronto, Singapore and Paris.

“They’re there to act as trip wires or listening posts” he said. “Is there anything going on there that (as I say) can help us better protect the city.”

The NYPD also uses radiation detectors and has created a network of surveillance cameras in Manhattan to track threats.

To help foster a closer relationship with the local community, the NYPD has created a cricket league for city kids.

“Back in the old days, we played baseball, basketball with the kids,” NYPD Inspector Amin Kasseim told “60 Minutes”.

“But as we have these new immigrant communities coming from overseas, we have to find the sports that they love, that they genuinely love,” he added.

Faster-Than-Light Discovery Raises Prospect of Time Travel


In this Tuesday, March 30, 2010 file photo, the globe of the European Organization for Nuclear Research, CERN, is illuminated outside Geneva, Switzerland. Scientists at CERN, the world’s largest physics lab, say they have clocked subatomic particles, called neutrinos, traveling faster than light, a feat that, if true, would break a fundamental pillar of science, the idea that nothing is supposed to move faster than light, at least according to Albert Einstein’s special theory of relativity: The famous E (equals) mc2 equation. That stands for energy equals mass times the speed of light squared. The readings have so astounded researchers that they are asking others to independently verify the measurements before claiming an actual discovery. (AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus)

LiveScience.com | Sep 23, 2011

By Stephanie Pappas

If a report of particles traveling faster than the speed of light turns out to be true, it will rock the foundations of modern physics — and perhaps even change the way scientists think about time travel.

But don’t fire up the DeLorean just yet. Physicists are skeptical that the tiny subatomic particles, called neutrinos, really are breaking the cosmic rule that nothing goes faster than light. And even if they are, neutrinos don’t make the best vessel for sending signals to the past because they pass through ordinary matter almost unaffected, interacting only weakly with the wider world.

So you may be able to send neutrinos back in time, but would anyone notice? “If you’re trying to get people’s attention by bouncing neutrinos off their head, you could wait for quite awhile,” Seth Lloyd, a physicist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, told LiveScience.

That hasn’t stopped physicists from imagining the possibilities in a world where faster-than-light travel is possible. If the neutrino experiment is confirmed, it opens the door to at least sending messages through time using those neutrinos, physicists say. You might even be able to send messages to “past you” with neutrinos, one physicist suggests. Experiencing time backwards, once thought impossible, might be outside the realm of sci-fi, another imagines. Of course, this is all predicated on the finding being true — and it raises thorny questions of how the universe would work if people were able to go back in time and, say, erase their own existence.

Physics shocker

The news that European researchers had detected neutrinos traveling faster than light broke yesterday (Sept. 22), triggering both typical scientific skepticism and pure amazement in the physics world. In an experiment that zaps neutrinos from CERN in Geneva to the INFN Gran Sass Laboratory in Italy, scientists clocked the particles outrunning light by 60 nanoseconds over 453.6 miles (730 kilometers) — a neck-and-neck race to be sure. [Infographic: See How Neutrino Experiment Works]

According to Einstein’s Theory of Special Relativity, neutrinos shouldn’t even be able to match light speed, much less break it. Neutrinos have (very small) mass, and as Einstein posited in his famous E=mc squared equation, mass is equal to energy. As something speeds up, its energy increases, too. Because energy is equivalent to mass, its mass increases. Now you’ve got a heavier object, so you’ve got to add even more energy to get it going faster. Before you know it, you need “completely unreasonable” amounts of energy to keep inching your object toward light speed, said Harvard University physicist Gary Feldman.

“You keep accelerating but you just incrementally approach [light speed], so you have to add more and more energy to go faster and faster, but it becomes less and less effective,” Feldman told LiveScience.

Some particles have been shown to exceed the speed of light when traveling in a medium rather than a vacuum, but neutrinos pass through the Earth as if it were a vacuum, so they shouldn’t ever be able to zip past light speed. The buzz in the physics community is that they probably haven’t.

“Even though the experimenters have done a very careful job and it’s a very impressive paper … it was a very complicated analysis and there’s always a possibility that there’s just an error in what they did,” Feldman said.

One possible error could be in the calculations the scientists used to correct for the effect of the atmosphere in their experiment, Lloyd said. Light actually gets a bit bogged down when it isn’t in a vacuum, while neutrinos zip through the atmosphere without any effect. It’s possible that the CERN researchers miscalculated in correcting for the atmospheric effect and that neutrinos aren’t actually going faster, but the light is just going a smidge slower than they realize.

If it’s true …

But if the results do hold, “it’s major, it’s humongous, it’s the biggest thing in 100 years,” said Michio Kaku, a theoretical physicist at the City University of New York.

“You’re talking about a tidal wave hitting physics if it’s true,” Kaku told LiveScience. “There are two rocks upon which modern physics is based. One is quantum theory and one is relativity. If one of the pillars falls, we’re in deep trouble.”

What does that mean for time travel? In theory, it might be more possible than scientists had thought. Einstein pointed out that time is relative: As you approach light speed, your experience of time is not the same as it is for the folks chugging along at their usual speed. What feels like a second to you will feel like much longer to them. This idea, called “time dilation,” spawned such sci-fi classics as 1968’s “Planet of the Apes,” in which what feels like 18 months to Charleton Heston and his crew is enough time for gorillas, chimps and orangutans to evolve language and complex societies back on Earth. [Top 10 Scary Sci-Fi Series]

There are a lot of barriers to approaching light speed, much less breaking it, but if you could, you could theoretically experience time running backward, Kaku said. Here’s how it would work: As you approach light speed, you might time goes slower in the outside world than it does for you. When you hit light speed, the outside world goes so slow in relation to you that it stops (again, in relation to you; people in the outside world feel as if time is the same as always). So if you could push past that speed limit, the outside world would be so slow as to be moving backward in relation to you.

So far, this seems pretty much impossible, not least because some other side effects of faster-than-light travel should include reducing your weight and width to less than nothing, Kaku said. [Watch: Can You Time Travel?]

If the neutrinos are actually going faster than light, though, it might be possible to use them to communicate with the past, Lloyd said. You could send off a faster-than-light message to someone moving at a rapid velocity with respect to you. They could then bounce the faster-than-light message back, and it would arrive before the signal you sent to them.

One way to think of this is like a mirror, Lloyd said. You send a message to the mirror, and it reflects it back, but so quickly that “past you” is the one who receives it.

Stuck in time

But all of this is moot if it’s only neutrinos that can be coaxed past the speed of light, Lloyd said. Because they don’t interact with much, your messages would likely go unnoticed by past generations. An April 13, 1865, warning to Abraham Lincoln not to go into Ford’s Theater the next day would pass through the president like a ghost. [Read: ‘Time Traveler’ Spotted?]

Doing away with Einstein’s theory would also complicate causality, the idea that things influence each other in chronological order. When you allow the past, present and future to interact, “that gets all messed up,” Lloyd said, and you start to get paradoxes. A classic is the Grandfather Paradox: What if you went back in time and shot your grandfather, preventing your own birth and thus preventing yourself from ever shooting your grandfather?

It’s a headache, to say the least. And not all researchers are convinced that the finding, even if true, would ultimately overturn the well-tested, century-old Special Theory of Relativity that keeps things from getting so messy.

“This effect is very small, it’s two parts in 100,000,” Feldman said. “If this is true, what it means is that there is some aspect of the Special Theory of Relativity that’s been overlooked or not understood well, but I can’t imagine that it really overtakes the Special Theory of Relativity.”