Showing posts with label satellite. Show all posts
Showing posts with label satellite. Show all posts

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Solar Storm Now Hitting Earth, Called Strongest Since 2005, Could Affect Astronauts

Solar Storm, Nasa
A View of Solar Storm on the surface of blazing Sun
WASHINGTON -- The sun is bombarding Earth with radiation from the biggest solar storm in more than six years with more to come from the fast-moving eruption.

The solar flare occurred at about 11 p.m. EST Sunday and will hit Earth with three different effects at three different times. The biggest issue is radiation, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Space Weather Prediction Center in Colorado.

The radiation is mostly a concern for satellite disruptions and astronauts in space. It can cause communication problems for polar-traveling airplanes, said space weather center physicist Doug Biesecker.

Radiation from Sunday's flare arrived at Earth an hour later and will likely continue through Wednesday. Levels are considered strong but other storms have been more severe. There are two higher levels of radiation on NOAA's storm scale – severe and extreme – Biesecker said. Still, this storm is the strongest for radiation since May 2005.

The radiation – in the form of protons – came flying out of the sun at 93 million miles per hour.

"The whole volume of space between here and Jupiter is just filled with protons and you just don't get rid of them like that," Biesecker said. That's why the effects will stick around for a couple days.

NASA's flight surgeons and solar experts examined the solar flare's expected effects and decided that the six astronauts on the International Space Station do not have to do anything to protect themselves from the radiation, spokesman Rob Navias said.

A solar eruption is followed by a one-two-three punch, said Antti Pulkkinen, a physicist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland and Catholic University.

First comes electromagnetic radiation, followed by radiation in the form of protons.

Then, finally the coronal mass ejection – that's the plasma from the sun itself – hits. Usually that travels at about 1 or 2 million miles per hour, but this storm is particularly speedy and is shooting out at 4 million miles per hour, Biesecker said.

It's the plasma that causes much of the noticeable problems on Earth, such as electrical grid outages. In 1989, a solar storm caused a massive blackout in Quebec. It can also pull the northern lights further south.

But this coronal mass ejection seems likely to be only moderate, with a chance for becoming strong, Biesecker said. The worst of the storm is likely to go north of Earth.

And unlike last October, when a freak solar storm caused auroras to be seen as far south as Alabama, the northern lights aren't likely to dip too far south this time, Biesecker said. Parts of New England, upstate New York, northern Michigan, Montana and the Pacific Northwest could see an aurora but not until Tuesday evening, he said.

News by Huffingtonpost

Read current news at

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

You have a human right to hoard (even if your junk can be seen from space): Court victory for eccentric homeowner

richard wallace
Richard Wallace
Junkyard seen from space
It was an astonishing case. Eccentric hoarder Richard Wallace had accumulated so much rubbish in his back garden that it could be seen from space - much to the fury of his neighbours.

But when his local council served a notice on him to remove it, he took his case to the crown court – arguing that it was his 'human right' to hoard junk on his land - and won.

Now, in an extraordinary twist, the case has taken a new turn – without the need for lawyers and judges.

Mr Wallace, 61, has already cleared the rubbish from his garden, which was so out of control it showed up on Google Earth – and he was helped by the very neighbours he had been in dispute with for years.

The battle between the inhabitants of the picturesque village of Westcott, in the Surrey commuter belt, and the man they dubbed ‘Stig of the Dump’ after the children’s novel, had been rumbling for years.

Living in a designated area of ‘outstanding natural beauty’ as well as a conservation area, the villagers were naturally keen on their environment, competing annually for the Britain in Bloom competition.

Priding themselves on their sense of community – the village has a gardeners’ club, amateur dramatics, Japanese martial arts classes and line dancing - they were appalled by the collection of junk - a mountain of newspapers included 34 years' worth of the Daily Mail - which spilled out of Mr Wallace’s million-pound home.

Words such as ‘eyesore’ and ‘health hazard’ were bandied around as his two neighbouring properties – a three-bedroom bungalow where he lives and a semi-detached house used for storage - became barely visible beneath overgrown vegetation.

But it was the six rusting cars – three Jaguars, an Audi and Two Wolseleys – which jostled for space in the garden with piles of wooden pallets, bags of empty cans and bottles, an office chair covered with moss, pushchair, tarpaulins, old front doors and kitchen sinks that fuelled their rage.

Finally, in May 2009, Robert Primrose, a senior planning enforcement officer with Mole Valley council, served an order on Mr Wallace under the Town and Country Planning Act ordering him to clear up his garden.

But he had underestimated Mr Wallace, who had maintained a sense of community spirit despite having become ostracized from some of his neighbours. He delivers newspapers around the village, providing a bespoke service to collect any readers’ offers, shovels snow from the road outside his home and often takes the milk from people’s gates to their doorsteps.

Representing himself with research from his local council library, he took his case first to magistrates and then to the crown court arguing that it was his ‘human right’ to hoard junk on his land.

Recorder Christopher Purchas QC agreed. ‘The evidence does not go far enough to show Mr Wallace in his use of his property interfered with the amenity of other people who live in the locality,’ he said, awarding him £250 costs to cover his photocopying and Internet use.

But now, 22 months after Mr Wallace's victory at Guildford Crown Court, comes the extraordinary conclusion to the story.

He is now working on the house, fuelled by home-cooked meals from locals, is waiting for an appointment to see a psychologist, and has had his first haircut in years.

And in it lies a lesson for us all. It shows that a bitter dispute can be resolved with a little care and understanding on both sides – and a community working together is more effective than the law.

It just goes to show that, if the bureaucrats had taken more trouble to find out that Mr Wallace had an obsessive illness, the case would never have escalated so far.

It is an extraordinary turnaround, which has been filmed by the Channel 4 filmmaker Christian Trumble for his documentary Obsessive Compulsive Hoarder, and shows that the hand of friendship often achieves more than the rule of law.

‘Truth be told it was far, far worse than I ever envisaged,’ Mr Wallace says, tears streaming down his face. ‘It was really quite shocking. Now that it’s all laid bare, I can see the stupidity of it, that this medical condition, known as hoarding, is a psychological problem.  It’s just indescribable. I really am worried about it. My mother would be absolutely horrified.

‘I don’t think you can change overnight. It’s got to be a gradual process. I am going to go to one session to start with and then proceed from there.

'Actually I think the whole exercise has been quite a reward in itself. It’s very therapeutic to get on top of it and get back in control of things.

'I’m surprised that so many people were prepared to turn up and make such a big effort so quickly. I wouldn’t expect people to give up their time for little old me. I got myself into this mess and so it’s really down to me to get myself out of it.’

Mr Wallace’s volte-face began during this summer’s Westcott in Bloom competition when the gardening committee suggested they paid for a fence to hide the rubble. Landscape gardener Andy Honey approached Mr Wallace with the offer and he accepted.

Afterwards Mr Honey offered to help him cut back his undergrowth and remove the foliage. He then appealed for neighbours to help clear the rubbish – in just one afternoon they removed 30 tons of junk – enabling Mr Wallace to walk to his front door. Over the next eight weeks, they cleared the remainder of the garden.

‘At the time, I felt he was getting a little bit victimised and picked on,’ Mr Honey says. ‘I think I was probably the only one that found it slightly amusing on Westcott in Bloom when he did win. I was determined to get him so he can live and not “exist” as he puts it, because I think it’s really sad to think that somebody in this day and age “exists”.’

Born on June 9, 1950, the only child of former bus driver Maurice Wallace and his wife Freda, whose family had lived in the village since the 19th century, Richard Wallace was destined for a bright future.

His grandfather Frederick Balchin, a grocer, who ran the local Balchin Stores, and his wife Alice, a former scullery maid at nearby Westcott House, had built up a substantial property portfolio, including the infamous bungalow, a three-bedroom semi-detached house and a number of garages.

But as a pupil at Pixham Junior School and Sondes Place secondary modern, Mr Wallace showed signs that he was different from the other students as he was more interested in collecting than girls. After he left school he did a training course at the BBC but ended up working as a television engineer locally. He has never had a proper girlfriend.

‘I didn’t get very far because the girls that interested me were, shall we say, spoken for,’ he admits.  ‘They already had somebody in tow or somebody in line and so I didn’t exactly get the brush off but I was sort of politely declined.’

Mr Wallace’s obsessive behaviour appears to stem from his overbearing father, who was also a traffic warden, but he did not start collecting in earnest until after his father’s death in 1976.

‘He wouldn’t tolerate things lying around for very long,’ he recalls. ‘He would be constantly sorting out and throwing out and so I've sort of rebelled against that.’

But his hoarding really spiralled out of control when his mother died in 2005. She had played an active role in village life – she was a member of the Westcott Players – but without her presence, he became a virtual hermit.

‘At that stage you could get from room to room and all round the house perfectly easily,’ he reveals. ‘There wasn’t any question of clambering over things as is the case now.’

Yesterday he told the Mail how he has ‘always been a collector’, starting with Corgi toy cars when he was a boy, then progressing to Practical Electronics magazine when he was 14.

‘I always wanted to refer back so I never threw a copy away,' he said.

‘I’ve taken the Daily Mail for the last 34 years, among others. It was a good idea although I’ve been overtaken by events now that you can online.

‘When the house was full I bought wooden palettes and put stuff on them and covered them with tarpaulins. It was manageable for a couple of years, but then they got waterlogged and ivy and bind weed grew through them.'

Living amongst decades of clutter has made even the most basic of functions a logistical nightmare. It took him half an hour to get to the front door from his only chair: he literally had to crawl from room to room as the rubbish was piled so high in places that there was little more than a foot’s space below the door frames.

Every aspect of his home life operated to a precise set of rules. He ate, worked and slept in his chair – he hasn’t slept in a bed for years and has not had a bath or shower because they were both covered with clutter. His television was blurred and the remote control barely worked because the sensor was obscured.

His staple diet was two eggs a day, which he cooked on a hob, narrowly avoiding setting the whole house alight. Each time he had to remove a tray piled high with papers before he lit the match. He then had to find a gap big enough for the tray and wriggle through it, using his momentum to go forwards. The whole procedure took three quarters of an hour – the calories burnt outweigh the content of the meal.

‘It's reached the point where even I can run out of tolerance now,’ he admits.  ‘It's not a life. It's just an existence at the moment isn’t it really? Someone said to me the other day “Did I live here?”  I said: “No. I exist here.” There’s a subtle difference. A lesson to anybody thinking about collecting things - don’t. It’s not really worth it, is it? It doesn’t make sense.’

News by Dailymail

Read current news at