Planetary Size Smell from Uranus


Uranus stinks and there’s scientific proof.

Researchers confirmed Monday the seventh planet from the sun has an upper atmosphere full of one of the smelliest chemicals known to humans, hydrogen sulfide, according to study published by Nature Astronomy.

The odorous gas is what gives rotten eggs – and human flatulence – their distinctive and unpleasant smell. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, people can smell the gas when it makes up as little as three out of every billion molecules in the air, so imagine what being surrounded by clouds of the stuff would smell like.


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Oligarch Wednesday


American Oligarch

U.S. senators are pressing many of the world’s largest financial institutions to disclose any links between their companies and wealthy Russians allied with Russian President Vladimir Putin, according to a letter released on Tuesday.

Two Democratic senators, Jeanne Shaheen and Sheldon Whitehouse, have written to the banks, hoping to increase pressure not just on individuals on the U.S. Treasury’s so-called “oligarchs list,” but also on financial institutions to closely consider those with whom they do business as Washington moves to impose sanctions on Moscow.

The Trump administration announced sanctions on Russia on April 6, largely responding to what U.S. intelligence agencies have said was Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election, although Treasury painted them as a response to a series of adversarial actions by Moscow.

Russia denies meddling in the election.


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Tumbleweed Terror Tuesday


They struck Victorville with little warning, rolling and tumbling up streets, barrelling past cars, virtually burying homes and prompting calls to 911 about a mass invasion.

No, not Attack of the Killer Tomatoes, but the tumbleweeds that took over the California desert town this week did evoke the 1978 film and cult horror pastiche.

Heavy winds sent thousands of tumbleweeds into Victorville on Monday in what some residents called an invasion, with the prickly intruders blanketing yards and piling up outside homes.


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Melting Monday


This July 4, 2012 photo shows surface melt water rushing along the surface of the Greenland Ice Sheet through a supra-glacial stream channel.

In the high-stakes race against sea level rise, understanding what’s causing the Greenland Ice Sheet to melt is critical. The problem isn’t just rising temperatures: soot from ships, wildfires and distant power plants, as well as dust and a living carpet of microbes on the surface of the ice, are all speeding up the melting.

Right now, predictions for sea level rise range from about 1 to 10 feet by 2100—a wide difference for coastal communities trying to plan seawalls and other protective measures.

The more we understand about how pollutants affect the ice, the more accurate those projections will be. So, let’s take a look at what’s happening on the ice sheet now—and the risks ahead.


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Brilliant Sunday

SOUTHERN LIGHTS: When an interplanetary shock wave hit Earth’s magnetic field on April 19th, northern skies lit up with electric blue auroras. Southern skies lit up, too, but the palette was different. Peter Sayers sends this photo of red, yellow and green lights over Wilmot, Tasmania:

“Overlooking Wilmot and the iconic Mt Roland, we saw bright naked eye auroras lasting an hour or two,” says Sayers. “They were stunning. I used Lightroom to clean up some noise, but the color saturation in this image was not altered from the camera.”

Similar colors were observed in New Zealand, while Antarctic observers witnessed almost pure green.

What’s the difference? Northern Lights stimulated by the shock wave were dominated by ionized nitrogen molecules, which produce a blue glow at the upper limits of Earth’s atmosphere. Southern Lights, on the other hand, were dominated by oxygen. Oxygen atoms glow red and green when excited by incoming particles from space. Oxygen and nitrogen are abundant in both hemispheres–so why they dominated in different places is anyone’s guess. Consider it a beautiful mystery.


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Lawyer-slime Saturday


Once again, the Michael-Cohen-in-Prague allegation is back in the news, and I found a small piece of evidence pertaining to this mystery.

The story began with the Steele memos—those reports filled with allegations (salacious and non-salacious) about contacts between Russians and Donald Trump and a yearslong Moscow effort to cultivate and co-opt Trump. In the October 19, 2016, report Christopher Steele sent to Fusion GPS, the corporate research firm that had retained him for a Democratic-funded project, the former British counterintelligence official, wrote:

Kremlin insider highlighted the importance of Republican presidential candidate Donald TRUMP’s lawyer, Michael COHEN, in the ongoing secret liaison relationship between the New York tycoon’s campaign and the Russian leadership. COHEN’s role had grown following the departure of Paul MANAFORT as TRUMP’s campaign manager in August 2016.

This report claimed that Cohen, Trump’s well-known fixer, had secretly met with Russian officials in an EU country that August. The next day, Steele sent Fusion GPS a new memo noting this Kremlin insider source had said the supposed Cohen meeting had taken place in Prague.

David Corn @ MotherJones

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frEYEday FUnEEz


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