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March 29, 2012
“This is amazingly awesome news. Just think about it – TENS OF BILLIONS of planets may have life – and this just in our galaxy alone. The chances of there being intelligent life in the universe (other than humans, if we can even call ourselves intelligent theses days) are astronomical. There probably isn’t just one or two intelligent species out there, there are probably thousands! These are the types of things the human race should be concerned about – not fighting with each other over religion, or who is going to win this season’s Dancing With the Stars.” –KTRN
Scientists have long assumed that the best chance of finding alien life in the universe is on planets similar to ours. The latest scientific discoveries show that there might be tens of billions of such planets in our galaxy alone.
Astronomers at the European Southern Observatory in Chile came to these findings after studying more than a hundred red dwarves, the most common stars in the universe.
The French-led team found out that 40 per cent of red dwarves are orbited by super-Earths – planets up to ten times bigger than our own – which are the correct distance away from their star for liquid water to be found on them. Liquid water is considered a major precondition of life.
From then on, figuring out the amount of potentially habitable planets was only a matter of math.
“Because red dwarfs are so common – there are about 160 billion of them in the Milky Way – this leads us to the astonishing result that there are tens of billions of these planets in our galaxy alone,” lead researcher Xavier Bonfils from the Observatoire des Sciences de l’Univers in Grenoble, France, said in a statement.
Despite the mind-boggling possibilities of billions of other civilizations, astronomers say it’s not time to record our interplanetary greetings just yet.
March 22, 2012
Free Wood Post
By Sarah Wood
“Lord, hear our prayer – please do not let Rick Santorum win the GOP nomination. The man thinks the sun revolves around the Earth. He has lost his marbles. Amen.” –KTRN
At a rally in Independence, Missouri, Rick Santorum revealed to a large crowd a lot more information regarding his beliefs on science. He told the crowd that not only is climate change “make-believe,” but all science is “made up by the government to control our way of life.” He said that the only way to live is by the “Holy book,” and everything else taught in the “liberal schools” is “designed to indoctrinate our children into the realm of Satan.”
One of Mr. Santorum’s most outrageous claims came when he told his crowd of supporters that “the sun revolves around the earth.” He said that, “in order to think that the earth revolves around the sun you have to be of the thinking that we are not the most dominant planet and species in the universe. I’m not going to let my children grow up in a society that tells them to believe the planet they live on is only a small speck in the bigger picture. God created our planet to be special because we are. He created the sun to keep us warm and provide light to our crops. He created man to be the keeper of it all. This is what we need to teach our children, not some mumbo-jumbo science that only seeks to pull our children away from the Lord.”
Scientists quickly refuted Santorum’s claims with centuries full of evidentiary information to prove science is indeed real, and that the earth does without question revolve around the sun.
Rick Santorum’s campaign advisor was not able to be reached for comment, but he was last seen burying his head deep in his hands. He may have been praying, or he may have finally given up on his candidate.
February 22, 2012
“Mars is NOT dead. It’s never been dead. It is alive and well. It used to be beaming with life. It had huge oceans. It was warm. The red planet has BLUE SKIES. Mars was the original Earth.” –KTRN
Images of a martian landscape offer evidence that the Red Planet’s surface not only can shake like the surface of Earth, but has done so relatively recently. If marsquakes do indeed take place, said the scientists who analyzed the high-resolution images, our nearest planetary neighbor may still have active volcanism, which could help create conditions for liquid water.
With High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) imagery, the research team examined boulders along a fault system known as Cerberus Fossae, which cuts across a very young (few million years old) lava surface on Mars. By analyzing boulders that toppled from a martian cliff, some of which left trails in the coarse-grained soils, and comparing the patterns of dislodged rocks to such patterns caused by quakes on Earth, the scientists determined the rocks fell because of seismic activity. The martian patterns were not consistent with how boulders would scatter if they were deposited as ice melted, another means by which rocks are dispersed on Mars.
Gerald Roberts, an earthquake geologist with Birkbeck, an institution of the University of London, who led the study, said that the images of Mars included boulders that ranged from two to 20 meters (6.5 to 65 feet) in diameter, which had fallen in avalanches from cliffs. The size and number of boulders decreased over a radius of 100 kilometers (62 miles) centered at a point along the Cerberus Fossae faults.
“This is consistent with the hypothesis that boulders had been mobilized by ground-shaking, and that the severity of the ground-shaking decreased away from the epicenters of marsquakes,” Roberts said.
The study, by Roberts and his colleagues, will be published Thursday in the Journal of Geophysical Research-Planets, a publication of the American Geophysical Union (AGU).
The team compared the pattern of boulder falls, and faulting of the martian surface, with those seen after a 2009 earthquake near L’Aquila, in central Italy. In that event, boulder falls occurred up to approximately 50 km (31 miles) from the epicenter. Because the area of displaced boulders in the marsscape stretched across an area approximately 200 km124-miles) long, the quakes were likely to have had a magnitude greater than 7, the researchers estimated.
February 17, 2012
By Irene Klotz
“Now this is where science rocks – to be able to study a lake that’s been cut off from the atmosphere for at least 14 million years. What will they find?” –KTRN
When a Russian team broke through 12,365 feet of solid Antarctic ice last week to reach an ancient buried freshwater lake, scientists eager to fill some gaps in Earth’s history were overjoyed. But they weren’t the only ones.
Seeing parallels between Antarctica’s subterranean Lake Vostok and suspected oceans beneath the ice-crusted moons of Jupiter and Saturn, scientists searching for life beyond Earth are eagerly following the Russian project.
They don’t expect water samples from Lake Vostok will hold alien life, though any life it contains may have taken a slightly different evolutionary path than what appears on the planet today. That’s because Lake Vostok, the deepest and most isolated of Antarctica’s subglacial lakes, has been cut off from the atmosphere for at least 14 million years.
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The lakes, which were discovered via satellite imagery in the late 1990s, owe their existence to the thick Antarctic ice, which acts like a blanket to trap heat coming from inside Earth, keeping water liquid.
“If they find evidence of life there — and I do think Lake Vostok has life in it — it’s going to be Earth-like,” astrobiologist Dale Andersen, with the SETI Institute’s Carl Sagan Center for the Study of Life in the Universe, told Discovery News.
“It’s going to be the same kind of life you find everywhere else. It may be that life has evolved differently, but it’s still Earth-like, still based on the same DNA structure,” Andersen said.
“The real value is that it helps us learn how to explore these kinds of environments better. It opens up your imagination for how to explore these kinds of environments, whether it’s on Earth or Europa,” he said.
Scientists suspect Lake Vostok’s water is about 1 million years old and is supersaturated with oxygen and other gases, a difficult place for life to exist. Some life that might be there are bacteria and single-celled microorganisms called archea.
It would be surprising if Lake Vostok had no life, NASA astrobiologist Chris McKay told Discovery News.
“The ice above the lake is known to contain low levels of viable but dormant organisms frozen into the ice. As this ice melts into Lake Vostok, it will carry these microorganisms so Lake Vostok is not likely to be sterile,” he said.
February 10, 2012
“More evidence that Mars might have been the original Earth.” –KTRN
ESA’s Mars Express has returned strong evidence for an ocean once covering part of Mars. Using radar, it has detected sediments reminiscent of an ocean floor within the boundaries of previously identified, ancient shorelines on Mars.
The MARSIS radar was deployed in 2005 and has been collecting data ever since. Jérémie Mouginot, Institut de Planétologie et d’Astrophysique de Grenoble (IPAG) and the University of California, Irvine, and colleagues have analyzed more than two years of data and found that the northern plains are covered in low-density material.
“We interpret these as sedimentary deposits, maybe ice-rich,” says Dr Mouginot. “It is a strong new indication that there was once an ocean here.”
The existence of oceans on ancient Mars has been suspected before and features reminiscent of shorelines have been tentatively identified in images from various spacecraft. But it remains a controversial issue.
Two oceans have been proposed: 4 billion years ago, when warmer conditions prevailed, and also 3 billion years ago when subsurface ice melted, possibly as a result of enhanced geothermal activity, creating outflow channels that drained the water into areas of low elevation.
February 6, 2012
Astronomers have discovered a potentially habitable super-Earth planet orbiting a nearby star, making it one of the best candidates to support life.
The newly found planet, called GJ 667Cc, has a mass 4.5 times that of Earth and orbits its host star every 28 days.
The research team used public data from the European Southern Observatory and analyzed it with great precision.
The star, GJ 667C, is a member of a triple star system and is different from our Sun as it lacks in metallic elements.
GJ 667C is a red dwarf and is located in the constellation Scorpio about 22 light years away from Earth.
The super-Earth planet receives 90% of the light that our planet receives but the planet is expected to absorb about the same amount of energy that Earth absorbs as more of the star’s light is infrared.
The level of energy and light absorption makes it possible for the planet to have liquid water and more balanced surface temperature.
“This planet is the new best candidate to support liquid water and, perhaps, life as we know it,” said co-discoverer Guillem Anglada-Escude.
“If it has an atmosphere, it’s probably reddish all the time, because the star is really red,” Anglada-Escude added.
The team notes that the system might also contain a gas-giant planet and an additional super-Earth.
February 6, 2012
“There has been much speculation on the real history of the moon. In 2007, authors Christopher Knight and Alan Butler wrote a book called Who Built the Moon? It’s an interesting speculation and one that may be true.” –KTRN
5 arguments why the Moon must be a spaceship.
1. The Moon’s orbit is at a miraculous distance from the Earth. It is in the only position between the Sun and the Earth that it can be the same size as the Sun in the sky periodically causing solar eclipses as viewed from the Earth.
2. At 2,160 miles in diameter the Moon’s impossibly large to be a natural satellite of tiny planet Earth. Jupiter is the largest planet in our solar system. It has 64 moons. The largest – Ganymede – measures only 3,270 miles across. The Moon’s extraordinary size actually makes it the fifth largest satellite in the solar system.
Only the gas planets – Jupiter, Saturn, Neptune – have the gravitational pull to capture such a massive body as the Moon in its orbit. In comparison, the “moons” of Mars, Phobos and Deimos, are 16 miles and 8 miles across. None of the “rock planets” in our solar system – that is Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars – can possibly acquire proper satellites.
3. No convincing scientific theory has explained the presence of the Moon. The Moon’s not a caught asteroid, its shape is of a planetoid, similar to the Moons of Saturn and Jupiter. The Martian asteroid moons Phobos and Deimos are ugly irregular-shaped objects whilst the Moon is an almost perfect sphere, like a planet. The traditional “scientific” explanation of the origin of the Moon is that it was previously a chunk of the Earth, the outcome of a Cosmic Collision billions of years ago. It is unexplained exactly how the original singular planet was split in such a way that both became spherical bodies entwined in orbit. Robin Brett (NASA scientist) said: “It seems easier to explain the non-existence of the Moon than its existence.”
4. Experiments have shown the Moon is hollow. In 1969 NASA hit the Moon with a lunar module in an impact that generated the equivalent in energy of about 1 ton TNT. Of this event, Maurice Ewing, the co-director of the lunar seismic experiment, said “it is as though someone had struck a bell, say, in the belfry of a church, a single blow and found that the reverberation from it continued for 30 minutes.” On a later mission NASA repeated the experiment, this time with the equivalent of 11 tons TNT. This time the Moon shook for 3 hours 20 minutes and enabled them to learn something else: according to one NASA source, the Moon “wobbled” in such a precise way that it was “almost as though it had gigantic hydraulic damper struts inside it”. At the time, Sean C. Soloman. MIT said experiments had suggested the “frightening possibility that the Moon might be hollow.”
January 20, 2012
By Charles Q. Choi
“If Saturn’s moon is somewhat earth-like – which is in our own solar system – the chances of there being other earth-like planets and moon is astronomical. To believe we are alone in the universe is like believing in the tooth fairy.” –KTRN
Saturn’s moon Titan may be more similar to an Earth-like world than previously thought, possessing a layered atmosphere just like our planet, researchers said.
Titan is Saturn’s largest moon, and is the only moon known to have a dense atmosphere. A better understanding of how its hazy, soupy atmosphere works could shed light on similar ones scientists might find on alien planets and moons. However, conflicting details about how Titan’s atmosphere is structured have emerged over the years.
The lowest layer of any atmosphere, known as its boundary layer, is most influenced by a planet or moon’s surface. It in turn most influences the surface with clouds and winds, as well as by sculpting dunes.
“This layer is very important for the climate and weather — we live in the terrestrial boundary layer,” said study lead author Benjamin Charnay, a planetary scientist at France’s National Center of Scientific Research.
Earth’s boundary layer, which is between 1,650 feet and 1.8 miles (500 meters and 3 kilometer
January 12, 2012
“This is awesome – and mind boggling. Imagine billions of Earth sized planets orbiting starts in our galaxy. Let’s not forget there are billions of galaxies in the Universe. Scientists now say every star has at least one planet orbiting it. Do the math – the chances that we are alone in space is virtually none. In fact, with these numbers, there is a good probability that the Universe is beaming with life – not just microscopic life, but intelligent existence. Don’t you think man’s number one goal as the species of Earth would be to find this other life? To colonize space? To discover where we come from? Nope – let’s just keep fighting and killing each other other over an invisible God in the sky we can’t see. Perhaps the discovery of life in the Universe could bring us closer together. It’s disturbing that all the nations on planet Earth are not coming together to venture into space.” –KTRN
An international team, including three astronomers from the European Southern Observatory (ESO), has used the technique of gravitational microlensing to measure how common planets are in the Milky Way. After a six-year search that surveyed millions of stars, the team concludes that planets around stars are the rule rather than the exception. The results will appear in the journal Nature on 12 January 2012.
Over the past 16 years, astronomers have detected more than 700 confirmed exoplanets  and have started to probe the spectra (eso1002) and atmospheres (eso1047) of these worlds. While studying the properties of individual exoplanets is undeniably valuable, a much more basic question remains: how commonplace are planets in the Milky Way?
Most currently known exoplanets were found either by detecting the effect of the gravitational pull of the planet on its host star or by catching the planet as it passes in front of its star and slightly dims it. Both of these techniques are much more sensitive to planets that are either massive or close to their stars, or both, and many planets will be missed.
An international team of astronomers has searched for exoplanets using a totally different method — gravitational microlensing — that can detect planets over a wide range of mass and those that lie much further from their stars.
Arnaud Cassan (Institut dʼAstrophysique de Paris), lead author of the Nature paper, explains: “We have searched for evidence for exoplanets in six years of microlensing observations. Remarkably, these data show that planets are more common than stars in our galaxy. We also found that lighter planets, such as super-Earths or cool Neptunes, must be more common than heavier ones.”
The astronomers used observations, supplied by the PLANET  and OGLE  teams, in which exoplanets are detected by the way that the gravitational field of their host stars, combined with that of possible planets, acts like a lens, magnifying the light of a background star. If the star that acts as a lens has a planet in orbit around it, the planet can make a detectable contribution to the brightening effect on the background star.
Jean-Philippe Beaulieu (Institut d’Astrophysique de Paris), leader of the PLANET collaboration adds: “The PLANET collaboration was established to follow up promising microlensing events with a round-the-world network of telescopes located in the southern hemisphere, from Australia and South Africa to Chile. ESO telescopes contributed greatly to these surveys.”
Microlensing is a very powerful tool, with the potential to detect exoplanets that could never be found any other way. But a very rare chance alignment of a background and lensing star is required for a microlensing event to be seen at all. And, to spot a planet during an event, an additional chance alignment of the planet’s orbit is also needed.
Although for these reasons finding a planet by microlensing is far from an easy task, in the six year’s worth of microlensing data used in the analysis, three exoplanets were actually detected in the PLANET and OGLE searches: a super-Earth , and planets with masses comparable to Neptune and Jupiter. By microlensing standards, this is an impressive haul. In detecting three planets, either the astronomers were incredibly lucky and had hit the jackpot despite huge odds against them, or planets are so abundant in the Milky Way that it was almost inevitable .