The Turkish downing of a Russian jet that crossed into its territory while bombing targets in Syria complicates even further the play of contraries in an already bewildering set of Mideast conflicts. The episode introduces a fresh tension that could well pit NATO, of which Turkey is a member, against what Gopalkrishna Gandhi calls a fledgling new NATO, or New Anti-Terror Organization, that French President François Hollande is trying to organize globally in the wake of the Paris attacks. Hollande meets Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow this week.
Oxford Chancellor Chris Patten endorses Hollande’s approach, calling for a broad effort that includes the U.S., Russia, China and the United Nations to fight the self-proclaimed Islamic State. Writing from Moscow, Fyodor Lukyanov argues that, after Paris, perhaps the West now sees the sense in Russia’s Mideast strategy to save the Syrian state and says in a separate article that the new clash between Turkey and Russia should not derail an “ad hoc coalition” against terrorism. From the Turkish side, a source closely involved at the top levels there over recent years tells the WorldPost: “Turkey is trying to say: you can’t simply ignore me. I am here, I am assuming a huge burden vis-à-vis the refugees and I have already paid a high cost for fighting this war, so I may create serious disturbances if and when I want to prevent a Russian-U.S. rapprochement over fighting ISIS that departs from the priority of ousting Assad.” WorldPost Middle East Correspondent Sophia Jones writes from Istanbul that Putin has charged Turkey with “supporting ISIS” by shooting down his warplane.
As if all this were not ominous enough, Joe Cirincione worries that, with Russia’s recent announcement of a devastating new
Francis Thackeray, University of the Witwatersrand
There has been global interest in the announcement of new fossils from a cave called Rising Star in the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site in South Africa.
These fossils were recently reported by Lee Berger and his team, who described the discovery of more than 1500 fossils as representing a new species of the genus Homo. It has been called Homo naledi, associated with a name for star in the Sesotho language.
But the age of Homo naledi is not yet known with certainty. The new species has not yet been dated. Unsuccessful attempts had been made by Paul Dirks and members of the Rising Star team to obtain an age. They used techniques applied previously to date a range of fossils. These included Australopithecus africanus, such as the famous “Mrs Ples” skull, as more than two million years old, and fossils of Paranthropus robustus and Homo erectus.
In a new paper in the South African Journal of Science I suggest that Homo naledi lived two million years ago (plus or minus 500,000 years). If shown to be correct, this will help to place Homo naledi in the family tree of human relatives.
The variance is based on the fact that the earliest date for Homo rudolfensis is about 2.5 million years, and the date for certain African Homo erectus samples is about 1.5 million years.
Although different, Homo naledi is most similar to fossils attributed to Homo habilis (about 1.8 million years old), and to a lesser extent to fossils of Homo rudolfensis and Homo erectus.
Taken together I am suggesting that Homo naledi is in the order of two million years old, with upper and lower limits of about 1.5 and 2.5 million years respectively.
Why is dating so important
The global average surface temperature in 2015 is likely to be the warmest on record and to reach the symbolic and significant milestone of 1° Celsius above the pre-industrial era. This is due to a combination of a strong El Niño and human-induced global warming.
The James Webb Space Telescope team successfully installed the first flight mirror onto the telescope structure at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. Credits: NASA/Chris Gunn
After years of construction, the first of 18 primary flight mirrors has been installed onto NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) at the agency’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, signifying the start of the final assembly phase for the mammoth observatory that will eventually become the most powerful telescope ever sent to space.
The milestone first mirror installation was achieved this week just ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday as the engineering team, working inside the massive clean room at NASA Goddard, used a robotic arm to precisely lift and lower the gold coated mirror into place on the observatory’s critical mirror holding backplane assembly.
Each of the 18 hexagonal-shaped primary mirror segments (…)
Read the rest of First Mirror Installed on NASA’s Webb Telescope, Final Assembly Phase Starts (946 words)
© Ken Kremer for Universe Today, 2015. |
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Post tags: HST, Hubble Space Telescope, James Webb Space Telescope, John Grunsfeld, jwst, JWST backplane, NASA, NASA Goddard
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