quasicrystal from early solar system, screwing over urban america, indefinite detention and the promises of men

Bizarre Crystal Hitched Ride on Meteorite and it as mysterious physical characteristics.

A rock fragment containing a previously unidentified natural quasicrystal may be the remnant of a  meteorite that originated in the early solar system more than 4.5 billion years ago before Earth even existed.

Until now, researchers had assumed such quasicrystals, whose atoms are arranged in a quasi-regular pattern rather than the regular arrangement of atoms inside a crystal, were not feasible in nature. In fact, until now the only known quasicrystals were synthetic, formed in a laboratory under carefully controlled conditions. (This year’s Nobel Prize in chemistry honored Dan Shechtman for his 1982 discovery of quasicrystals, which at the time were thought to break the laws of nature.)

“Many thought it had to be that way, because they thought quasicrystals are too delicate, too prone to crystallization, to form naturally,” researcher Paul Steinhardt of Princeton University said. The new finding, described this week in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, suggests “quasicrystals are much more common in the universe than we thought,” Steinhardt added.

The rock was discovered in the Koryak Mountains of Russia. Various features of the quasicrystal suggest a meteorite origin, including the shapes of the grains and its chemical composition of metallic copper and aluminum that resemble those found in so-called carbonaceous chondrites; these are primitive meteorites that scientists think were remnants shed from the original building blocks of planets. Most meteorites found on Earth fit into this group.

A rock sample containing quasicrystals unearthed in the Koryak Mountains in Russia. CREDIT: Paul Steinhardt, Princeton University

I did say mysterious, not supernatural or unexplainable. As to whether it is over 4.5 billion years old. Well for those who do not believe in math or the basic physical laws of the universe it could just be a road apple from a unicorn.

Antique Scientific Diagram (copper engraving) of an Astronomical Clock. 1773. The dark center object is the earth. The moon is to the left and the sun to the right. Everything is spinning, rotating on its axis while also making elliptical circles. The moon is rotating, revolving around the earth, rotating around the sun as it stays in rotation around the earth. The earth is not making a circle in which it is always an equidistant from the sun, but rather one in which it is closer during some parts of the ellipse. The earth’s behavior is thus so regular that time can be kept and seasons can be predicted. That is a lot of  rotating, orbiting and axis movement for just three objects in space. And so far it does so without crashing into one another. All figured out in 1773 ( for the first time years before that) without the use of computers, calculators or satellites.

urban surfaces, design, architectural columns

architectural detail wallpaper

Screwing Over Urban America: Why the GOP’s Top Contenders Hate Cities

“The core of the Republican constituency in metropolitan America are the growing, racially and economically exclusive ‘outer suburbs’ whose privileged status Republicans seek to protect at all costs,” says former mayor of Albuquerque David Rusk, now a consultant. He cited New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie as an exemplar of the trend.

Today’s Republican candidates are rarely city-dwellers.

Gingrich owns a Northern Virginia cul-de-sac mansionette that “tends toward the ornate” and includes a master bath entirely covered in mirrors, according to a recent New York Times article on candidate homes. Rick Perry moved into a high-end gated community in exurban Austin, Texas, while the governor’s mansion was under construction. Michele Bachmann lives in a McMansion with a builder’s description that “reads like a synonym finder for nouveau suburban glory, touting the home’s arched stone entry, hand-scraped walnut plank flooring, and a fully paneled library with see-through fireplace.”

Romney rose to the pinnacle of Massachusetts politics from the leafy and high-end Boston suburb of Belmont, where he had a bathroom with “vaulted ceilings and a soaking tub some might mistake for a lap pool,”…

This might be one of those trends in loopy conservative thinking which actual trends may deliver a rude wake-up call one day. Cities are becoming too expensive for the middle-class to afford. They are increasingly about the upper-middle-class to wealthy areas, with carve outs for the service workers who stay in the city to provide services to those people. It is not always a guarantee, but those with higher incomes and a college education ( both inexorably linked in the U.S. economy) tend to have more moderate political views. I wish I could find the map, but during the 2008 election cycle – as with most modern cycles – there was a plethora of demographic maps of the electorate and voting patterns. The entire U.S. is wrapped in a belt of blue. Among other indicators that trend also supports the education, income and moderate political connections. It is and will likely be the case for some time that America’s largest and wealthiest cities are also close to the sea. If conservatives want to pretend that large cities do not matter and play up to exclusive suburbs and southern white males, I’m not going to suggest they do otherwise.

photography, nature, light

black and white rays of forest light

Since I started in on this issue I might as well finish up to where we’re at today, President Obama Signs Indefinite Detention Into Law. So that sums up where the ACLU stands. Constitutional law expert Jonathan Turley has similar sentiments, Final Curtain: Obama Signs Indefinite Detention of Citizens Into Law As Final Act of 2011

Obama insisted that he signed the bill simply to keep funding for the troops. It was a continuation of the dishonest treatment of the issue by the White House since the law first came to light. As discussed earlier, the White House told citizens that the President would not sign the NDAA because of the provision. That spin ended after sponsor Sen. Carl Levin (D., Mich.) went to the floor and disclosed that it was the White House that insisted that there be no exception for citizens in the indefinite detention provision.

While one could give the president credit for the signing statement, the fact that he made one in an administration that has thankfully stayed away from them, is a clear admission that the language in the bill could be misinterpreted and abused. He did emphatically say he will not be abridging any U.S. citizens rights per the 5th, 6th and 8th amendment. Being a constitutional law expert himself, he knows that we are a nation of laws, not men. It is nice and probably some solace to many people that he says he will not abuse these detention powers on U.S. citizens. What about the next person. Which is exactly what some of us warned about during the Bush administration and its absurd claims of power under the theory of the unitary executive. It did take the SCOTUS decision Hamdan v. Rumsfeld to get Bush to back off some of is more excessive claims to have powers which superseded U.S. law.There is no practical reason to act as though someone suspected of terrorism should be treated like a comic book super villain that must be whisked off to places unknown, we have a high rate of success trying them like any criminal case – Terror conviction rate high in US

An interesting bit of history via Paul Krugman this morning, Beautifying America

Andy Rosenthal, our editorial page editor, notes that Mitt Romney likes to quote from “America the Beautiful”, and tells us something I for one didn’t know:

The lyrics were written in 1894 by the Massachusetts poet Katharine Lee Bates, an ardent feminist and lesbian who was deeply disillusioned by the greed and excess of the Gilded Age.

Her original third verse was an expression of that anger:

America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
Till selfish gain no longer stain
The banner of the free!

I’ve always preferred America The Beautiful over the Star Spangled Banner, the music itself ( not the lyrics) are from a British song written by a Brit named John Stafford Smith called “The Anacreontic Song”.

This is What Happens When You Give Thousands of Stickers to Thousands of Kids.

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