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Astronomers discover most Earth-like planet yet !

23 July 2015

A planet remarkably similar to Earth and potentially capable of sustaining life has been discovered in a “habitable zone” around a distant sun-like star, U.S. scientists said on Thursday. The planet, which is about 60 percent bigger than Earth, is located about 1,400 light years away in the constellation Cygnus. It was discovered using NASA’s Kepler space telescope and circles a star that is similar in size and temperature to the sun.

“In my mind, this is the closest thing we have to another planet like the Earth,” astronomer Jon Jenkins, with the U.S. space agency’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California, told reporters on a conference call. Dubbed Kepler-452b, the planet is positioned about as far from its parent star as Earth is from the sun. At that distance, surface temperatures would be suitable for liquid water, a condition believed to be critical for life. Scientists previously have found Earth-sized planets orbiting in stars’ so-called “habitable zones”, but those stars are cooler and smaller than the sun. NASA launched the Kepler telescope in 2009 to survey a sampling of nearby stars in an attempt to learn if planets like Earth were common in the galaxy.

“This is great progress in finding a planet like Earth that is similar in size and temperature around a sun-like star,” said Kepler scientist Jeff Coughlin, with the SETI Institute in Mountain View, California. Based on its size, scientists believe Kepler-452b should be rocky, like the Earth, though that theory is based on statistical analysis and computer modeling, not direct evidence. Kepler-452b’s parent star is about 6 billion years old, compared to the 4.6 billion year age of the sun.

“It’s simply awe-inspiring to consider that this planet has spent 6 billion years in the habitable zone of its star. That’s considerable time and opportunity for life to arise somewhere on its surface or in its oceans should all the necessary ingredients and conditions for life exist on this planet,” Jenkins said. With the discovery of Kepler-452b, the telescope has found 1,030 confirmed planets and identified nearly 5,000 candidate planets. The list of potential planets includes 11 other near-Earth twins, seven of which circle sun-like stars. Attempts to learn if Kepler-452b has an atmosphere likely will have to wait for a new generation of more sensitive space telescopes, said NASA’s associate administrator John Grunsfeld.

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Gold tumbles 4% after 33 tonnes of the metal were traded in China !

22 July 2015

Gold’s 4 per cent slide in a matter of minutes on Monday came after a record 3.3 million lots of the metal, or about 33 tonnes, were traded on a key Shanghai physical contract, as top consumer China appears to be increasingly shunning bullion. The selling came as investors have been finding less and less reason to hold gold as a safe haven, with the dollar strengthening ahead of what is expected to be the first increase in US interest rates for nearly a decade. Spot gold ended a 12-year rally in 2013, after hitting a record high of $1,920 an ounce two years earlier. With the US dollar increasingly gaining favor as a rate hike looms, gold faces still more downside risk. “It looks like the end of an era for gold,” said Howie Lee, analyst at Phillip Securities in Singapore, saying China has been grappling with oversupply after importing a record volume in 2013. China said on Friday its gold reserves were up 57 per cent at the end of June from the last time it adjusted its reserve figures six years ago. Despite the tonnage increase, gold now accounts for 1.65 per cent of China’s total foreign exchange reserves, against 1.8 per cent in June 2009. Spot gold fell to as low as $1,088.05 an ounce – its weakest since March 2010 – shortly after the Shanghai Gold Exchange opened. Gold regained some ground as the selloff subsided, trading above the key $1,100 support level.

Just over 3 million lots were traded on a key contract in Shanghai, compared to less than 27,000 lots on Friday, Reuters data showed. Prior to Monday, the volume for July had averaged less than 30,000 lots.” “We do see a lot of people in China selling gold to get fast cash to go back into the equity market,” said a Singapore-based trader. The Chinese have snubbed gold in favour of equities for the most part of this year, fuelling a rally in stocks before the meltdown earlier this month and the subsequent recovery. Monday marked the sixth straight day of decline for gold, which took a hit last week after Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen said the US central bank is on course to raise rates this year if the US economy expands as expected. But the speed and magnitude of Monday’s fall shocked some traders, many of whom had been used to gold’s lethargic trading this year, despite the Greek debt crisis and China’s stock rout. The Singapore-based trader said stop-loss orders had added to the slump after the Chinese market opened and warned that gold exchange-traded funds were likely to be dumped if the rout persisted. Holdings at SPDR Gold Trust, the world’s largest gold-backed exchange-traded fund, dropped more than 11 tonnes to 696.25 tonnes on Friday. That outflow was the largest in a single day since 2014, said Victor Thianpiriya, an analyst at ANZ Bank. “Clearly the market momentum is down. We’ve had a price forecast of $1,100 in the short term, but it looks like the market is certainly trading very much on the weak side and could test levels below $1,100 and stay there for sometime,” Thianpiriya said.

Dollar Sinks from 3-month’s peak but Gold Supports commodity currencies !

21 July 2015

The dollar retreated from a three-month high against a basket of currencies on Tuesday on mild profit-taking, while commodity-related currencies stabilized on a pause in gold’s recent sell-off. Traders dialed back their short-term bearish bets on the euro in light volume as Greece proceeded to adopt the tough measures required by its lenders to obtain cash and avert bankruptcy.

The dollar is expected to strengthen again in the coming weeks as traders anticipate the U.S. Federal Reserve will raise interest rates by year-end. Fed Chair Janet Yellen and other top central bankers have said higher rates are appropriate later this year if the U.S. economy continues to strengthen.

“The tension is fading on the euro down there,” said David Rodriguez, quantitative strategist at FXCM in New York. “The dollar is still in control.” The euro was up 0.4 per cent at $1.0873 after retesting a near three-month low of $1.0808 set on Monday. It is down 2.3 per cent so far this month. The greenback was firm at 124.34 yen, hitting a five-week high of 124.48 late in the Asian session. The dollar index dipped 0.2 per cent to 97.782 after touching a three-month peak at 98.151 earlier Tuesday. The pullback in the dollar was mitigated by a rise in U.S. Treasuries yields on expectations of a Fed rate increase and heavy supply of corporate bonds.

Meanwhile, the gold market stabilized after a steep drop on Monday, helping commodity-linked currencies including the Canadian, New Zealand and Australian dollars. But minutes from the Reserve Bank of Australia’s latest meeting saw more declines in an Aussie dollar already at its lowest in six years. RBA’s view differed from New Zealand’s, where Prime Minister John Key on Monday offered the currency some verbal support. The Aussie dollar was up 0.2 per cent at $0.7383, while the kiwi rose 0.7 per cent to $0.6604. Spot gold prices held above a five-year low on Tuesday but there was anxiety that their fall would resume toward $1,000 an ounce due to sluggish Chinese demand and a possible Fed rate hike that would raise the appeal of the dollar.

Aghori Sadhus: The Reliogionistic cannibals !

21 July 2015

India land of oldest society, oldest civilization, but all this time in the Indian history there was a sect dedicated to Shiva was involved in cannibalism and other very crude animal behavior. The aghori or aghouri sect has its origin in ancient Vedic system, even though these people don’t follow the main stream Vedic system but the root is the same. The word aghori in Sanskrit means non terrifying, ‘a’-‘ghori’ most of the Hindi speaking people would have heard the phrase ghor kaliyug, ghor paap, etc.. it is the same ghor, theoretically these people don’t attach themselves to anything mortal. They do things which a common man finds to be terrifying, so they overcome this terror by going through it, since they do it regularly it is a common thing for them. In Hinduism, “there is no evil, everything is emanated from ‘Brahman’, so how could anything in this universe be impure”? this is the kind of philosophy the aghori babas follow. According to them anything in this universe is the manifestation of god itself, so everything is as pure as god and is god like, so abandoning anything is like abandoning god itself. The aghori mainly worship lord Shiva, according to the sect every human is a ‘shava’(dead body) with emotions and they should try to become ‘Shiva’ by denying the human pleasures and involving in the aghori rituals.

The root of aghoris are as old as Hinduism itself, but the sect in its present form has its origin in Kinaram, he was an aghori ascetic and lived for about 150yrs. He was believed to be the incarnation of lord Shiva. He attained many siddhis through tapas and rituals and then helped the people with his siddhis. There is a temple in Varanasi for this baba and is the most sacred for the aghoris. Some also trace the root to Dattatreya. The aghori is a human symbol of lord Shiva himself. The aghori lives in cemetery (shmashana), the living place for lord Shiva, this is the representation that the final abode for everyone is the cemetery. And many of the aghoris roam around naked, representing the true humans and their detachment from this world of mortals who live in the world of illusion. By this they transcend beyond human feelings of love, hatred, jealousy, pride etc..

There are many aghoris walking the streets of northern India with kapala(skull cup). These aghoris eat anything, when I said anything, it really meant anything like rotten food, food from the dumps, the animal faeces, animal urine.. etc they regularly perform rites(some are so crude that it cant be explained here) to attain the highest level in aghoratva, the enlightenment. The final part of the ritual requires a minimum of one eating of putrid human flesh, and also meditating on(sitting) the dead corpse. This is the symbolic of their rise from shava to Shiva. They follow the simple rule that the universe resides in them and they try to attain enlightenment by self realization. As the ascetic advance in his search, he attains many siddhis. Slowly they gain control over the environment. They seem to posses powers to cause a rain or to stop one. This is disturbing but this is true, even though they possess this kind of powers they will not use it, for the basic rule of aghori itself is to deny human pleasure so the change in climate is an event which should happen on its own. Whatever the ascetic says happens, I have met people who have had direct relation with the ascetic, and I cannot question the veracity of the datas. It is also said that when he curses someone, every wish of the person comes true.

There have been many aghoris in the past. Some of them being Dattatreya, Kinaram, Tailanga swamy, Aghoreshwar Mahaprabhu Baba Bhagwan Ram.

Drugs Under The Microscope Are Wildly Colored And Starkly Beautiful !

20 July 2015

When you drink your morning coffee or afternoon soda, you don’t think twice. But these photos will have you seeing caffeine–along with other birth-control pills, LSD, and other legal and illicit drugs –in a whole new light. Its post crushing the drugs and dissolving them in water and then heating each solution to evaporate away the water.Left behind are crystalline versions of each substance that are starkly beautiful when magnified–just scroll down for a look.

MDMA

2C-B

Potassium Bitartrate

Ciprofloxacin Antibiotic

Diltiazem

Birth-Control Pill

Persan_ret

Vitamin C

Acetaminophen (paracetamol)

Diclofenac

Aspirin

Caffeine

Amphetamine

Lysergic Acid Diethylamide

Gamma-Hydroxybutyric Acid

DMT

Gold hits five-year low under $1,100 on Chinese MASS Selling !

20 July 2015

Gold prices plunged as much as 4 percent to their lowest in more than five years on Monday as sellers in top consumer China offloaded the metal.

Investors have been finding less and less reason to hold gold as an insurance against risk, with the dollar strengthening ahead of what is expected to be the first increase in U.S. interest rates for nearly a decade. Spot gold XAU= fell $45.55 to its weakest since March 2010 at $1,088.05 an ounce shortly after the Shanghai Gold Exchange opened, with volumes soaring to a record.It regained some ground, trading above the key $1,100 support level, but was still down 2.2 percent at $1,108.18 an ounce by 1355 GMT. Spot platinum XPT= fell for the fifth straight session, down 5 percent to a fresh 6-1/2-year low of $942.49 an ounce, due to oversupply, sluggish demand and weaker gold prices, which encouraged speculative selling.

“Illiquidity was important in the Asian overnight move, with Japan and other countries on holiday … it was just a bit of a bear raid and there was nobody on the other side to mop up the selling,” Societe Generale analyst Robin Bhar said.”We have breached significant support levels, we know U.S. rate hikes are coming, there is no inflation and there is no catalyst to hold gold when other markets are doing better.” Gold fell more than 1 percent on Friday, pressured by increased bets on a Federal Reserve rate rise this year, which would increase the opportunity cost of holding the metal.More than 3 million lots traded on a key contract XAU9999=SGEX on the Shanghai Gold Exchange, compared with fewer than 27,000 lots on Friday, Reuters data showed. Before Monday, the volume for July had averaged fewer than 30,000 lots.Traders said it appeared that sellers had taken advantage of a low-liquidity environment, with Japanese markets shut for a public holiday, fuelling speculative selling.

“The break of the critical $1,130 support level now makes the technical picture look very weak,” ANZ said. “Short-term supports sit at $1,085 and $1,050, while topside resistance at $1,130 looks pretty solid.”In wider markets, the dollar hit a three-month high against a basket of currencies, making dollar-priced gold more expensive for holders of other currencies. [MKTS/GLOB]China said on Friday its gold reserves were up 57 percent at 1,658 tonnes at the end of June from the last time it adjusted its reserve figures more than six years ago.”This implies stockpiling of around 100 tonnes per year, which is dramatically lower than market expectations,” Citigroup said in a note.

Palladium XPD= dropped as much as 3.4 percent to its lowest since October 2012 at $593 an ounce, before cutting some losses to trade down 1.4 percent at $605.25.

Spot silver XAG=, the least hit among precious metals in Monday’s slide, was off 0.5 percent at $14.78 an ounce.

Scientists Discover New Outer Crust Similar To That Of Earth on MARS !

The Curiosity rover has been on the Gale crater of Mars since its successful landing on August 6th, 2012. Now, scientists have discovered that the Red planet is more similar to Earth than originally thought.Using rock data gathered by the robot, a study published in Nature Geoscience, found that many of the rocks in the crater had similar chemical makeup to ones found in the Earth’s crust.

The discovery will help with our understanding of not only the history of Mars as a planet, but also the makeup of parts of the planet unexplored by terrestrial rovers such as Curiosity. Scientists have discovered evidence of a continental crust on MarsThe crust of a planet is the outermost and thinnest layer. On Earth, the rock on land, or the continental crust, is typically lighter than what you’d find deeper in the oceans, or the oceanic crust.Nature Geoscience’s study revealed evidence of this continental crust has been found on Mars.

Mary Beth Griggs, a writer at Popular Science explained: “Scientists thought for a long time that Earth was the only planet with a continental crust, because typically it takes a very long time on a very active planet for the lighter rocks to rise to the surface and form into the chunks that make up the continental crust.”The scientists used data from 22 Martian rock samples, some of which was gathered using Curiosity’s ChemCam, a laser that the rover shoots at rocks to reveal chemical makeup.

However more research is still needed to confirm that Mars went through the same process of crust formulation as Earth. Although at this early stage, the signs do point to some interesting parallels between the two planets.

What 9 common drugs do to your brain !

17 July 2015

We know different drugs make us experience the world around us in very different ways – and their after-effects are often nowhere near as pleasant as the immediate results they produce. So what exactly are these drugs doing to the brain to prompt these feelings?

Marijuana

When marijuana’s active ingredient, THC, hits the brain, it causes brain cells to release the feel-good chemical dopamine. Dopamine is a part of the brain’s reward system – it’s the same chemical that makes us feel good when we do enjoyable things such as eating and having sex.

When overexcited by drugs, the reward system creates feelings of euphoria. This is also why, in some rare cases, excessive use can be a problem: The more often you trigger that euphoria, the less you may feel for other rewarding experiences.

Magic Mushrooms

A recent study showed that shrooms’ main psychoactive ingredient, psilocybin, appears to quiet traditional brain activity and instead jump-starts new connections between different areas of the brain.

These new connections may be what causes users to describe “seeing sounds” or “hearing colours” and could also give shrooms some of their antidepressant qualities. More research is needed, of course. And shrooms don’t come without health risks, which can include unpleasant hallucinations and increased anxiety.

Alcohol

Like other drugs, booze affects brain chemistry by altering the levels of neurotransmitters, the chemical messengers that pass along the signals that control our thinking and behavior.

Alcohol slows down our thinking, breathing, and heart rate by halting our ‘excitatory’ messengers, the ones that typically increase our energy levels. But it amplifies our ‘inhibitory’ messengers, those that usually work to calm things down. It also boosts our brain’s feel-good dopamine levels.

Heroin

The brain converts heroin into morphine, which binds to molecules on cells in the brain and body called opioid receptors that affect how we perceive pain and rewards. This explains the surging sense of euphoria that many people feel when they inject the drug.

Because we also have opioid receptors in our brain stem, the body’s main control centre, overdosing on heroin can slow and even stop breathing, leading to brain damage, coma, or death.

Prescription opiate painkillers

Recent research has shed light on a troubling potential link between heroin and opiate painkillers such as Vicodin and OxyContin. A CDC report released in July found that people who abused opiates were 40 times as likely to abuse heroin. One of the reasons abusing opiates may make people more susceptible to future heroin abuse, the report says, is that the drugs act similarly in the brain.

Caffeine

Caffeine is the most commonly used psychoactive drug in the world. A stimulant of the central nervous system, caffeine can give us a temporary mood boost. But this can also pump up our adrenaline levels, which primes us for exercise but can leave us more irritable and anxious.

Caffeine also keeps us alert by mimicking a molecule called adenosine in the brain and hijacking one aspect of a complex process our brains use to put us to bed at night.

LSD

Like magic mushrooms, LSD is a hallucinogen. Hallucinogens primarily affect the area of the brain responsible for regulating our mood, thoughts, and perception, but they also influence other regions that control how we respond to stress. Some users have described extensive ‘trips’ on these drugs that include everything from floating to seeing their own deaths.

The short-term effects of LSD can include impulsiveness, rapid shifts in emotions ranging from euphoria to sadness, dizziness, and increased heart rate.

Flakka

Because flakka is so new, researchers aren’t sure exactly how it affects the brain or how addictive it is. For now, they can look only to its chemical cousins, including cocaine and amphetamines, for evidence.

These drugs cause a surge in two chemicals: dopamine, the feel-good chemical, and norepinephrine, which raises our heart rate and keeps us alert. Like most drugs, flakka comes with a comedown. This sensation often results in users returning to the drug to get rid of the negative feeling, jump-starting a cycle of use that can lead to abuse. Excessive use has been linked with feelings of extreme anxiety, paranoia, hallucinations, and violent behaviour.

Ecstasy

Ecstasy, or MDMA, amps up the activity of at least three different neurotransmitters, including dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin, which plays a critical role in maintaining our mood. Pumped-up serotonin levels may explain the mood boost many MDMA users feel, but it’s this same serotonin dump that most likely also contributes to the days-long comedown it often brings.

Research suggests that chronic MDMA use (a couple of pills every weekend for years or 10 to 20 pills in a weekend) is bad news for the brain. Two recent studies comparing chronic users with those who rarely or never used found that the chronic users scored lower on memory and learning tests; one of those studies also found reduced activity in those brain regions via PET scans.

Cocaine

Whether it’s snorted, smoked, or injected, cocaine enters the bloodstream and penetrates the brain in a matter of seconds. Once there, it causes an intense feeling of euphoria – its characteristic ‘high’ – by overwhelming the mind with the feel-good chemical dopamine. The sensation of pleasure is so powerful that some lab animals, when given a choice, will choose cocaine over food until they starve to death.

One part of the brain most acutely affected by cocaine includes key memory centres, which may partially explain some of its addictive properties. In mice that have been dosed repeatedly with cocaine, a host of changes occur in the brain cells in a region that helps with decision-making and inhibition. The more often they get the drug, the more likely they are to access it again when given the chance.

Get ready for a ‘fire sale’ of Greek islands !

14 July 2015

Property agent Knight Frank is predicting a “fire sale” of Greek islands over the next few years.

The upmarket property company says in its latest Islands Report: “As the long-term ramifications of Greece’s financial bailout play out more fire-sales of Greek islands are expected.”

The upmarket property company says in its latest Islands Report: “As the long-term ramifications of Greece’s financial bailout play out more fire-sales of Greek islands are expected.” Last year Greece introduced its first ever tax on real estate under pressure from creditors who wanted it to raise more cash to pay down debts. The tax made owning a private island suddenly unaffordable for some owners – the asset rich, cash poor problem.

Around 20 Greek islands were put on the market last year and Knight Frank expects more to follow as the implications of the property tax begin to hit home for more owners.

The latest Greek bailout deal reached Monday imposes more austerity on Greece, which is likely to lead to a further squeeze on private wealth. Given Syriza’s hard-left leanings, fiscal consolidation will likely hit the rich more heavily than it previously has.

Knight Frank notes that Greek islands will likely attract “bargain hunters” and foreign investors are already turning to Greece to hunt out good property deals. The Independent reported on Saturday that Russian, Chinese, and even Serbian and Bulgarian investors are buying up discounted properties.

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