The existence of exotic hadrons — a type of matter that doesn’t fit within the traditional model of particle physics — has now been confirmed, scientists say.
Hadrons are subatomic particles made up of quarks and antiquarks (which have the same mass as their quark counterparts, but opposite charge), which interact via the “strong force” that binds protons together inside the nuclei of atoms.
Researchers working on the Large Hadron Collider beauty (LHCb) collaboration at CERN (the European Organization for Nuclear Research) in Switzerland — where the elusive Higgs boson particle was discovered in 2012 — announced today (April 14) they had confirmed the existence of a new type of hadron, with an unprecedented degree of statistical certainty.
“We’ve confirmed the unambiguous observation of a very exotic state — something that looks like a particle composed of two quarks and two antiquarks,” study co-leader Tomasz Skwarnicki, a high-energy physicist at Syracuse University in New York said in a statement. The discovery “may give us a new way of looking at strong-[force] interaction physics,” he added.
The Standard Model of particle physics allows for two kinds of hadrons. “Baryons” (such as protons) are made up of three quarks, and “mesons” are made up of a quark- antiquark pair. But since the Standard Model was developed, physicists have predicted the existence of other types of hadrons composed of different combinations of quarks and antiquarks, which could arise from the decay of mesons.
In 2007, a team of scientists called the Belle Collaboration that was using a particle accelerator in Japan discovered evidence of an exotic particle called Z(4430), which appeared to be composed of two quarks and two antiquarks. But some scientists thought their analysis was “naïve” and lacked good evidence, Skwarnicki said.
A few years later, a team known as BaBar used a more sophisticated analysis that seemed to explain the data without exotic hadrons.
“BaBar didn’t prove that Belle’s measurements and data interpretations were wrong,” Skwarnicki said. “They just felt that, based on their data, there was no need to postulate existence of this particle.”
So the original team conducted an even more rigorous analysis of the data, and found strong evidence for the particle.
Now, the LHCb team has studied data from more than 25,000 meson decay events selected from data from 180 trillion proton-proton collisions in the Large Hadron Collider, the world’s largest and most powerful particle accelerator. They analyzed the data using both the Belle and BaBar teams’ methods, and confirmed the particle was both real and an exotic hadron.
The results of the experiment are “the clincher” that such particles do exist, and aren’t just some artifact of the data, Skwarnicki said.
His colleague, Sheldon Stone of CERN, also praised the achievement. “It’s great to finally prove the existence of something that we had long thought was out there,” he said.
ABUJA (Reuters) – A morning rush hour bomb killed at least 71 people at a Nigerian bus station on the outskirts of the capital on Monday, raising concerns about the spread of an Islamist insurgency after the deadliest ever attack on Abuja.
President Goodluck Jonathan pointed the finger of suspicion at Boko Haram, although there was no immediate claim of responsibility from the Islamist militants who are active mainly in the northeast. As well as the dead, police said 124 were wounded in the first attack on the federal capital in two years.
Visiting the scene, Jonathan denounced “the activities of those who are trying to move our country backwards” by staging such an attack. “We will get over it … The issue of Boko Haram is temporary,” he said, imploring Nigerians to be more vigilant in the face of suspicious characters.
Security experts suspect the explosion was inside a vehicle, said Air Commodore Charles Otegbade, director of search and rescue operations. The bus station, 8 km (5 miles) southwest of central Abuja, serves Nyanya, a poor, ethnically and religiously mixed satellite town where many residents work in the city.
“I was waiting to get on a bus when I heard a deafening explosion, then saw smoke,” said Mimi Daniels, who escaped from the blast with minor injuries to her arm. “People were running around in panic.”
Bloody remains lay strewn over the ground as security forces struggled to hold back a crowd of onlookers and fire crews hosed down a bus still holding the charred bodies of commuters.
“These are the remains of my friend,” said a man, who gave his name as John, holding up a bloodied shirt. “His travel ticket with his name on was in the shirt pocket.”
The attack underscored the vulnerability of Nigeria’s federal capital, built in the 1980s in the geographic center of the country to replace coastal Lagos as the seat of government for what is now Africa’s biggest economy and top oil producer.
Boko Haram militants are increasingly targeting civilians they accuse of collaborating with the government or security forces. Amnesty International estimates the conflict has killed 1,500 people in the past year.
The police said its agencies were on “red alert”, and urged Nigerians to help with an investigation to find the killers.
“In some ways it’s not a big surprise,” said Kole Shettima, director of the Abuja office of U.S. charitable institution, the
MacArthur Foundation. “The situation has been escalating.”
“It’s a statement that they are still around and they can attack Abuja when they want, and instill fear.”
The militants, who want to carve an Islamic state out of Nigeria, have in the past year mostly concentrated their attacks in the northeast, where their insurgency started.
But an attempted jail break by Boko Haram suspects near the presidential villa in Abuja last month, which triggered a 3 hour gun battle, may have used outside help, security sources say.
The sect’s purported leader Abubakar Shekau called on his “brethren” to take up arms in a video posted on jihadist websites, specifically threatening to attack Abuja and the south, which has so far never been touched.
In a sign of how politicized violence is likely to be in the run-up to elections set for February 2015, the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP) blamed the main opposition All Progressives Congress for the blasts.
“Utterances by certain APC governors have been aimed at undermining our security forces and emboldening insurgents against the people,” PDP spokesman Olisa Metuh said.
There had been no such violence near the capital since suicide car bombers targeted the offices of the newspaper This Day in Abuja and the northern city of Kaduna in April 2012.
Security forces at the time said that was because a Boko Haram cell in neighboring Niger state had been broken up.
A Christmas Day bombing of a church in Madalla, on the outskirts of Abuja, killed 37 people in 2011, although the main suspect in that attack is now behind bars. Boko Haram also claimed responsibility for a bomb attack on the United Nations’ Nigeria headquarters that killed 24 people on August 26, 2011.
Boko Haram, which in the Hausa language of largely Muslim northern Nigeria means broadly “Western education is sinful”, is loosely modeled on the Taliban movement in Afghanistan, and has forged ties with al Qaeda-linked militants in the Sahara.
Control Risks analyst Thomas Hansen said the lack of attacks
in Abuja in the past two years was probably thanks to a crackdown on Boko Haram, which had largely contained the group in the northeast.
He also said that if this bomb was the work of Boko Haram, the choice of target on the outskirts of Abuja, rather than the city center, may be a sign of constraints on its capabilities.
“The security provision in the center appears to be much better than on the outskirts. It’s far easier to target that side of the city,” he said, but he added that the attack may be a forewarning of more ambitious strikes to come.
(Additional reporting by Camillus Eboh; Writing by Tim Cocks; Editing by Alastair Macdonald and David Stamp)
The Universe is expanding—the space between galaxies is growing larger all the time. Not only that, but the rate of expansion is getting faster, a phenomenon we call “dark energy.” Right now, we don’t know what dark energy is, but thanks to detailed astronomical observations, we’re getting a better idea of how it behaves.
One of those observations is BOSS: the Baryon Oscillation Spectroscopic Survey. Baryon oscillation is basically sound waves in the early Universe. (Ordinary matter particles, like atoms, are perversely known as “baryons” to people who study the Universe.) BOSS studies those sound waves by mapping the positions and distances to huge numbers of galaxies, stretching back as far in time as possible. The oscillations, in turn, are a way to measure the structure and expansion rate of the cosmos, providing a detailed look at dark energy.
Last week, BOSS researchers revealed they had mapped 164,000 galaxies an average of 11 billion light-years away. One light-year is the distance light travels in a year, so light left these galaxies when the Universe was less than 3 billion years old—about 20 percent of its current age of 13.8 billion years. Those are early galaxies, providing a beautiful map of the cosmos in the old days.
So what does this have to do with cosmic acceleration?
First, “dark energy” is a lame-ass name. For one thing, it sounds like it has to do with “dark matter,” but they are almost complete opposites. The only things they have in common: they’re both invisible, and we don’t know what either of them really is. (I’ll write a piece about dark matter soon—stay tuned!)
Dark matter is the invisible mass holding galaxies together and shaping the distribution of stuff on the biggest scales. Except for the “invisible” bit, it mostly acts like atoms and other ordinary matter: it helps keep things together by gravitational attraction. Dark energy, on the other hand, pushes everything apart. As the Universe expands, dark energy makes the speed of expansion get bigger, while a cosmos with only dark matter in it would slow down. From what we can tell, the total amount of dark energy seems to increase as the Universe expands. It’s a feedback cycle: the more expansion we have, the more dark energy; the more dark energy, the faster the Universe grows.
We want to know if dark energy has always been this way, or if it has changed over history—and if it will stay the same forever. We’re also curious about whether dark energy pushes expansion the same way everywhere in the Universe, or if it’s stronger some places than others. Those are important mysteries: they tell us about the nature of dark energy, but also inform us about how our Universe began, and what its future will be like.
If dark energy will be the same in billions of years as it seems to be today, the future will be dark and empty, as galaxies continue to move apart from each other at ever-faster rates. If dark energy comes and goes, though, maybe the rate of expansion will slow down again. All of this is a long time from now—trillions of years after the death of the Sun—but we might see hints about it today. We hope to see signs of what is to come by looking at how dark energy behaves now, and how it has acted in the past. Similarly, if dark energy is stronger in some parts of the cosmos, then certain pockets of the Universe would grow faster than others. That also has implications for how the future cosmos looks.
And that’s where BOSS comes in. If dark energy was different in the past, then galaxies in the early cosmos would be closer together (for less dark energy) or farther apart (for more). And if the effect of acceleration was stronger in some patches than others, that would mean less or more clumping up of galaxies.
Galaxies that distant are very faint, so BOSS looks for quasars: the powerful massive black hole at the centers of many early galaxies. As matter falls toward these black holes, it accelerates close to the speed of light, heating up and sending a lot of energy back into space. Contrary to stereotypes, black holes don’t devour everything—they can be some of the brightest objects in the Universe! And that helps BOSS: quasars are bright enough to be seen and mapped from 11 billion light-years away.
I visited the Apache Point Observatory in New Mexico two years ago, where the telescope taking data for BOSS is located. Unlike many, this telescope doesn’t have a dome to cover it, so to compensate, it has a square metal box around it to deflect wind. And let me say: those baffles make the telescope ugly, like its own mama puts a bag over its head before kissing it goodnight.
But the results coming out of BOSS are beautiful, even if the telescope is hideous. The new results provide the most accurate measure yet of the expansion rate of the cosmos 11 billion years ago. As researchers sift through the data, they’ll compare it to the outcomes of other observations—and try to answer some of those profound questions about the nature of dark energy.
BAGHDAD (AP) — A car bomb went off in a commercial area of a restive northern Iraqi city on Sunday, killing at least 10 people, while a separate bombing killed 6 people, officials said.
The explosives-laden parked car targeted a joint Iraqi army and police patrol while it passed through a busy commercial area in Mosul, killing five civilians and five security personnel, a police officer said. He added that at least 12 other people were wounded in that blast.
A medical official confirmed the figures. Both officials spoke on condition of anonymity as they were not authorized to release information.
Mosul is located about 360 kilometers (225 miles) northwest of Baghdad.
Hours earlier, a suicide car bomber drove his vehicle into a security checkpoint in the northern town of Dibis, killing six people and wounding 15 others, police chief Col. Bestoon Rasheed said. He added that 15 other people were wounded in the attack.
Civilians were among the victims, but a breakdown of the casualties was not immediately available. The town is located near the city of Kirkuk, 290 kilometers (180 miles) north of Baghdad.
Violence has escalated in Iraq over the past year, with 2013 seeing the highest death toll since the worst sectarian bloodletting in 2007, according to the United Nations figures. More than 8,800 people were killed in violence last year.
No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attack, but suicide bombings and well-coordinated attacks are a hallmark of an al-Qaida’s breakaway branch that operates in Iraq, known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. Sunni Insurgent groups have escalated attacks across the country since last year in bid to undermine the Shiite-led government.
The attacks happened just weeks before parliamentary elections are scheduled to be held on April 30. There will be no voting in parts of the western Anbar province, where security forces are clashing with Islamic militants and fighters who control the provincial capital, Ramadi, and nearly all of the nearby city of Fallujah.
Follow Sinan Salaheddin on Twitter at https://twitter.com/sinansm
VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Francis, marking Palm Sunday in a packed St. Peter’s Square, ignored his prepared homily and spoke entirely off-the-cuff in a remarkable departure from practice. Later, he hopped off his popemobile to pose for “selfies” with young people in the crowd.
In his homily, Francis called on people, himself included, to look into their own hearts to see how they are living their lives.
“Has my life fallen asleep?” Francis asked after listening to a Gospel account of how Jesus’ disciples fell asleep shortly before he was betrayed by Judas before his crucifixion.
“Am I like Pontius Pilate, who, when he sees the situation is difficult, washes my hands?”
He sounded tired, frequently pausing to catch his breath, as he spoke for about 15 minutes in his homily during Palm Sunday Mass, which solemnly opens Holy Week for the Roman Catholic Church.
“Where is my heart?” the pope asked, pinpointing that as the “question which accompanies us” throughout Holy Week.
Francis seemed to regain his wind after the 2 ½ hour ceremony. He shed his red vestments atop his plain white cassock, chatted amiably with cardinals dressed more formally than he at that point. Then he posed for “selfies” with young people from Rio de Janeiro who had carried a large cross in the square.
He had barely climbed aboard his open-topped popemobile when he spotted Polish youths, they, too, clamoring for a “selfie” with a pope, and he hopped off, to oblige them.
In a crowd of around 100,000 Romans, tourists and pilgrims, people clutched olive tree branches, tall palm fronds or tiny braided palm leaves shaped like crosses that were blessed by Francis at the start of the ceremony.
Francis used a wooden pastoral staff carved by Italian prison inmates, who donated it to him. The pope wants to put people on the margins of life at the center of the church’s attention.
Francis wore red vestments, symbolizing blood shed by the crucified Jesus.
Holy Week culminates next Sunday with Easter Mass, also in St. Peter’s Square. Many faithful will remain in Rome, while others will pour into the city for the April 27 canonization of two popes, John Paul II and John XXIII. Francis noted that John Paul’s long-time aide, now Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz of Krakow, Poland, had come to Rome.
Francis noted he’ll be making a pilgrimage to South Korea this summer, with the key event, church World Youth Day celebrations on Aug. 15 in Daejeon.
Follow Frances D’Emilio on twitter at http://www.twitter.com/fdemilio
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – What does a tiny fruit fly have in common with the world’s most advanced fighter jets like the U.S. Air Force’s F-22 Raptor? More than you might think.
Scientists using video cameras to track a fly’s aerial maneuvers found the insect employs astonishingly quick mid-air banked turns to evade predators much like a fighter jet executes to elude an enemy.
Their study, published on Thursday in the journal Science, documents aerial agility in fruit flies such as the capacity to begin to change course in less than one one-hundredth of a second.
The fact that flies are airborne acrobats should not surprise anyone who has ever swung a flyswatter at one, only to watch the little insects easily escape.
The researchers at the University of Washington synchronized three high-speed cameras operating at 7,500 frames a second to learn the secrets of what the flies do to make themselves so elusive.
They tracked the mid-air wing and body motion of the fruit fly species Drosophila hydei, which is about the size of a sesame seed, inside a cylindrical flight chamber after the insects were shown an image that suggested an approaching predator.
The flies produced impressive escape responses, almost instantaneously rolling their bodies like a military jet in a banked turn to steer away. While executing the turn, the flies showed that they could roll on their sides by upwards of 90 degrees, sometimes flying almost upside down.
“They generate a rather precise banked turn, just like an aircraft pilot would, to roll the body and generate a force to take them away from the threat,” said University of Washington biology professor Michael Dickinson, who led the study.
“That happens very quickly. And it’s generated with remarkably subtle changes in wing motion. We were pretty astonished by how little they have to do with their wing motion to generate these very precise maneuvers,” he said.
The fly flaps its wings about 200 times a second, and in almost a single wing beat can reorient its body to maneuver away from the threat and continue to accelerate, Florian Muijres, another of the researchers, said in a statement.
“I suspect that these are very ancient reflexes,” Dickinson added. “Very shortly after insects evolved flight, other insects evolved flight to eat them. Circuits for detecting predators are very, very ancient. But this one is just being implemented in a high-performance flight machine.”
A lot of light was needed to accommodate the cameras’ extraordinarily high shutter speeds, but because a fly would be blinded by the necessary amounts of normal light, the researchers used very bright infrared lights. Like people, fruit flies do not see infrared light.
“I’ve always been fascinated by flies. Everybody thinks that they have a simple nervous system, but I think it’s exactly the opposite. They just have a really tiny one. But it’s incredibly compact. They do so much with just this brain the size of a salt grain,” Dickinson said.
(Reporting by Will Dunham; Editing by Toni Reinhold)
Boda (Central African Republic) (AFP) – Stifled by the heat inside a barn in the Central African Republic town of Boda, dozens of emaciated and often sick displaced people subsist in fear of the vigilantes who surround them.
The group, members of an extended family, fled to Boda from the village of Danga 25 kilometres (15 miles) away, seeking shelter from the anti-balaka — or “anti-machete”, mainly-Christian militia groups that have been hunting and killing members of the crisis-torn country’s Muslim minority.
But days after the family arrived in Boda, fierce clashes broke out between the anti-balaka and local Muslims, ending with the Christian militia forces encircling the southwestern diamond-mining town.
More than 14,000 Muslims, including the displaced family from Danga, are now trapped inside with no way out and very limited supplies.
“I am suffering very much. No house, no food. The anti-balaka are killing people — many,” said Saifou, one of those sheltering in the suffocating barn.
“I have lost many things, even my cattle. I had 800 of them,” said Saifou — who, like some 200 other displaced people stuck in the town, is from the Fula ethnic group, a predominantly Muslim, herding people whose members are scattered across west and central Africa.
Boda began its bloody downward spiral at the end of January, after coup leader-turned-president Michel Djotodia gave up power under international pressure.
Djotodia was accused of letting ex-fighters from Seleka, the mainly Muslim rebel coalition that swept him to power 10 months earlier, wage a campaign of atrocities against the Christian majority.
Seleka fighters abandoned Boda after Djotodia stepped down, and horrific fighting broke out between people of both faiths. More than 100 people were killed in a week.
The bloodshed — which typifies the terrifying plunge into ethno-religious violence that has swept the country — was halted by the arrival of French peacekeeping troops.
- No milk for baby -
Since then, however, anti-balaka forces have laid siege to the town, once called “Boda the Beautiful” for its majestic, centuries-old trees.
A woman in the barn who was nursing a malnourished baby lifted up her shirt and squeezed her breast to show that she had no milk for her infant.
Her mother, Khadidja Labi, lay immobile on a mat, already looking like death.
Labi was unsuccessful in signing on for the scarce food handed out each morning by staff of the UN World Food Programme (WFP). The last distribution was four weeks ago, time enough to weaken the family and make them more susceptible to diarrhoea and less resistant to diseases such as scabies and malaria.
The most feeble have died. Yet those who could still stand on trembling legs proved ready to stumble forward and greet visitors.
Karim, clad in a brightly coloured shirt, came back from the food handout disgruntled.
“The WFP isn’t giving us sugar, no honey, no firewood, just rice and maize,” he said.
“The Christians wanted to kill us in order to take away our property. We can’t even go the mosque in our district,” added Karim, who was born in Boda and had wanted “to stay here”.
He vented the anger felt by Boda’s Muslims over businesses that had been looted and destroyed around the town centre, which is crossed by a single long road of red earth, lined by small stalls with virtually nothing to sell. The road is the only territory still open to the Muslims, all gathered into a single district.
Frightened inhabitants can no longer cross three small wooden bridges that traverse the filthy waters of a canal because death is all but certain on the far side. The bridges today lead to a no-man’s land of burned-out houses owned by Muslims and Christians alike.
- ‘Muslims showed wicked side’ -
Facing the main road and watching over the no-man’s land with machine-guns, about 100 soldiers from France’s 2,000-strong peacekeeping force guard the frontier between communities. Three armoured cars are posted on the square in front of the town hall.
To the right of it, a battered old road rises up to the church and Christian districts, which have become home to 9,000 displaced people. Here, a small market remains, along with street kitchens and the sound of music. The mood is less desperate than in Muslim territory and meat, vegetables and fruit are available.
“We want the Muslims to go, since they have shown us their wicked side,” said Miguez Wilikondi, a youth leader who has taken charge of the displaced people.
Wilikondi said the Christians had been saved from Muslim militias by anti-balaka forces.
“Thanks to them, we’re still alive,” he said.
Back in the Muslim enclave, Mahamat, a diamond miner who converted from Christianity to Islam and has 13 children, tried to find room for hope.
“Fortunately we have a well of pure water, otherwise we would be dead,” he said.
Scientists have reconstructed a long-ago asteroid impact that makes the strike that wiped out the dinosaurs 65 million years ago look like a playful chuck on the chin.
The enormous collision occurred 3.26 billion years ago and involved an asteroid 23 to 36 miles (37 to 58 kilometers) across — four to six times wider than the dino-killing space rock. The impact created a crater about 300 miles (500 km) wide and generated seismic waves far more powerful than those produced by any earthquake in recorded history, researchers said.
The asteroid impact was “far larger than anything in the last billion years,” Jay Melosh of Purdue University, who was not involved in the new study, said in a statement.
Researchers Norman Sleep and Donald Lowe, both of Stanford University, mapped out the details of the cataclysmic strike after studying rocks in a region of South Africa known as the Barberton greenstone belt.
The space rock probably hit far away from the Barberton formation, in a location that researchers may never find. But it left its imprint on the South African rocks and on the entire Earth, disrupting the planet’s crust and possibly spurring a transition from an early tectonic regime to the more modern plate-tectonic system that prevails today, researchers said.
“This is providing significant support for the idea that the impact may have been responsible for this major shift in tectonics,” said UCLA geologist Frank Kyte, who was not a member of the study team.
The mammoth collision likely posed a severe challenge for life on Earth, which first evolved about 3.8 billion years ago. The sky would have filled with dust and become incredibly hot, while the upper layers of the ocean would have boiled, researchers said.
The asteroidimpact could have wiped out a large percentage of the planet’s lifeforms, vacating niches that the survivors evolved to fill.
“We are trying to understand the forces that shaped our planet early in its evolution and the environments in which life evolved,” Lowe said.
While incredibly dramatic, this enormous smashup was probably far from unique. Rather, it was one of many such strikes that occurred during a period called the Late Heavy Bombardment, which began around four billion years ago and lasted for perhaps one billion years.
That bombardment period also affected other bodies in the inner solar system, blasting huge holes into Mars, Venus, Mercury and Earth’s moon.
The new study has been accepted for publication in the journal Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems.
PGA Tour pro Bill Haas comes from a golf family. His dad, Jay, has been a longtime member of the PGA Tour, winning nine times on the regular Tour and 16 times on the Champions Tour. Dad never won the Masters, but son has put himself in a good position after the first round of golf’s first major tournament.
Bill Haas shot a four under 68 Thursday to take a one-shot lead over three players – defending champion Adam Scott, former British Open champion Louis Oosthuizen, and 2012 Masters winner Bubba Watson, who all carded three under 69s.
There’s a group of seven golfers, led by first-time players Kevin Stadler, Jonas Blixt of Sweden, and Jimmy Walker, who shot two under par 70 Thursday.
And, at one under par 71, you’ll find some familiar names, such as former champion Fred Couples, Rory McIlroy, and Miguel Angel Jimenez.
As for Friday’s tee times, which are all in the Eastern time zone, here are some of the notables:
American Nick Watney, who’s four shots back at even par, will tee off at 8:29 a.m.
Louis Oosthuizen, who is part of a threesome with Matt Kuchar of the US, will tee off at 8:51 a.m.
Former two-time Masters champion Bernhard Langer of Germany, who’s also at even par after the first round, starts his second round at 9:24 a.m.
Bubba Watson, playing with Sergio Garcia and Luke Donald, tees off the first hole at 9:57 a.m.
Phil Mickelson hopes to play better on Friday, after shooting a four over 76. He tees off at 10:30 a.m.
Kevin Stadler’s group, which includes former Masters winner Ian Woosnam, will start at 11:03 a.m, followed by Jonas Blixt’s threesome at 11:14 a.m.
Fred Couples will tee off with his effortless golf swing at 12:42 p.m.
Jimmy Walker, paired with Ricky Fowler and Graeme McDowell, go off the first hole at 12:53 p.m.
Haas, the first round leader, is in a threesome with Jimenez and the young Italian star, Matteo Manassero. This group will tee off at 1:15 p.m.
Scott, the defending champion, is playing alongside Jason Duffner and Matthew Fitzpatrick, the US Amateur champion. This threesome will start their second round at 1:48 p.m.
Again on Friday, ESPN will have second round coverage, beginning at 3 p.m. Eastern time. You can also go to Masters.com to find live streaming video to check out from your computer or wireless device, starting at 10:45 a.m.
RIYADH (Reuters) – Saudi authorities have been asked to consider lifting a state school ban on sports for girls, according to the official SPA news agency, in a religiously conservative country that included women in its Olympic team for the first time only two years ago.
Under a strict interpretation of sharia, Saudi women are banned from driving and must gain formal permission from a male relative to leave the country, start a job or open a bank account. But King Abdullah is pushing cautious social reforms improving women’s rights in the face of conservative resistance.
SPA said Saudi Arabia’s appointed Shoura Council, which advises the government on policy, had asked the education ministry to look into including sports for girls in state-run schools with the proviso they should conform to Sharia rules on dress and gender segregation.
Although it would not become law until the ministry and cabinet approved the idea, the council’s vote represented a further pigeon step of progress for Saudi women.
The world’s top oil exporter has maintained an official ban on sports classes for girls in state schools under pressure from religious conservatives.
A ban on sports in private girls schools was officially lifted last year, though some of those schools had already been providing physical education classes for girls for years.
In 2012 Saudi Arabia included women in its Olympic team for the first time, a move that won support from many of its citizens but also prompted some to abuse the morals of the two female athletes, a runner and judoka, on social media.
Although the council’s decisions are not binding, they are seen as important in Saudi Arabia because it is the only official forum in which new laws and government policy on sensitive social issues are publicly discussed.
A year ago King Abdullah appointed 30 women to the 150-member chamber for the first time.
His moves to make it easier for women to work and study alongside men, and to promote more tolerant views of other religions have faced opposition from powerful clerics and their many supporters, who fear the kingdom is losing its Islamic values in favor of Western ideas.
ALLIANCE WITH CLERICS
SPA quoted deputy chairman of the shoura council, Fahad al-Hamad, as saying that the council had heard supporting and dissenting views on the topic during the session before the chamber adopted the decision.
Members who supported the decision pointed to an increase in obesity-related illnesses in Saudi society particularly among women and an increase in jobs if physical education programmes were adopted for girls.
Those who opposed the decision said there were many schools which were not equipped infrastructurally to allow for sports. Some members also questioned whether physical education lessons had actually decreased obesity in boys.
“The (education affairs) committee saw …. that ratifying this decision does not contradict Sharia law, pointing out that a previous fatwa (religious ruling) … allowed for sports for women in general,” SPA reported on Tuesday.
Saudi Arabia is ruled by sharia, or Islamic law, and King Abdullah has taken some steps to restrict the ability of clerics to pass fatwas.
The Al Saud ruling family have always retained a close alliance with clerics of the strict Wahhabi school of Islam, which controls the judiciary and parts of the education system in the world’s largest oil exporter.
Wahhabis endorse a political philosophy that demands obedience to the ruler and have issued fatwas banning anti-government protests, but they have themselves opposed many of King Abdullah’s social reforms.
(Writing by Yara Bayoumy; Editing by Angus McDowall)
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — North and South America, get ready for the first eclipse of the year— in color.
Next Tuesday morning, the moon will be eclipsed by Earth’s shadow. This total lunar eclipse will be visible across the Western Hemisphere. The total phase will last 78 minutes, beginning at 3:06 a.m. EDT and ending at 4:24 a.m. EDT.
The moon will be rising in the western Pacific, and so only the last half of the eclipse will be visible there. In much of Europe and Africa, the moon will be setting, so there won’t be much, if anything, to see.
Even though the moon is in the Earth’s shadow, it should appear a bit colorful, some shade of red or orange. That’s from light around the edges of the Earth — essentially sunrises and sunsets — splashing on the lunar surface and faintly lighting up the moon, said Alan MacRobert, senior editor at Sky & Telescope magazine.
On April 29, the Southern Hemisphere will be treated to a rare type of solar eclipse.
In all, four eclipses will occur this year, two lunar and two solar.
Tuesday’s lunar eclipse may damage a NASA spacecraft that’s been circling the moon since fall. But no worries: it’s near the end of its mission.
The robotic orbiter LADEE (LA’-dee) was never designed to endure a lengthy eclipse. Scientists don’t know if it will withstand the prolonged cold of the hours-long eclipse.
Even if it freezes up, LADEE will crash into the far side of the moon the following week as planned, after successfully completing its science mission. In an online contest, NASA is asking the public to guess the impact time. Scientists expect LADEE’s doomsday to occur on or before April 21.
LADEE stands for Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer. The science-collecting portion of the mission went into overtime at the beginning of March.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – You’ve heard of having a heart of stone, but this old guy takes it literally.
Scientists said on Monday they have found a fossil of a shrimp-like creature that lived 520 million years ago with an exquisitely preserved heart and blood vessels that represent the oldest-known cardiovascular system.
Named Fuxianhuia protensa, the creature was a primitive arthropod, a group of invertebrates with external skeletons that includes crustaceans like crabs, lobsters and shrimp as well as insects, spiders and millipedes.
The remarkable fossil, unearthed in Yunnan province in southwestern China, dates from the “Cambrian Explosion,” a pivotal juncture in the history of life on Earth when many major animal groups first appeared more than half a billion years ago.
“It is an extremely rare and unusual case that such a delicate organ system can be preserved in one of the oldest fossils and in exquisite detail,” said paleontologist Xiaoya Ma of the Natural History Museum in London, one of the researchers in the study published in the journal Nature Communications.
The soft parts of an animal’s body tend to decay after death, meaning that fossils typically preserve only the hard parts like bones, teeth and shells. “However, under very exceptionally circumstances, soft tissue and anatomical organ systems can also be preserved in fossils,” Ma said.
In the case of Fuxianhuia protensa, the fossil showed a tubular heart in the middle of the body with a rich and elaborate system of blood vessels leading to the creature’s eyes, antennae, brain and legs.
The cardiovascular system, including the heart and blood vessels, is an important organ system that permits blood to circulate around the body and to deliver oxygen and nutrients. Most animals have such a system, although those without a real body cavity like jellyfish and flatworms do not.
This fossil sheds new light on the evolution of animal body organization and shows that even some of the earliest creatures resembled their relatives alive today, the researchers said.
“It shows that already 520 million years ago, such a system had evolved considerable complexity, particularly with respect to the rich vascularization in the head. This suggests that the brain of this species required a good supply of oxygen for its performance,” said University of Arizona neuroscientist Nicholas Strausfeld, another of the researchers.
Fuxianhuia protensa measured up to about 4-1/2 inches long, was covered in an exoskeleton, possessed numerous pairs of legs, had a “head shield” similar to those seen in shrimp. It had pairs of antennae and stalked eyes that could be rotated to enable it to see in different directions, the scientists said.
Flourishing in shallow seas, it probably both swam and walked along seabed, they said. It is not clear whether it was an active predator or a scavenger.
‘A SORT OF POMPEII EVENT’
The beautifully preserved internal structures in the creature likely resulted from a calamity that claimed its life.
“These fossils are likely to be a consequence of sudden entombment – a sort of Pompeii event, though not of lava but an underwater mudslide or massive and sudden dust fall-out,” Strausfeld said.
Fossils of Fuxianhuia protensa have proven to be relatively common in the area where it was found. In fact, another fossilized specimen of this animal that was previously described by scientists showed the oldest-known brain.
“Its gut, nervous system and vascular system are indeed unmistakably similar to that of some shrimp-like crustaceans alive today,” Strausfeld said.
Many innovations related to animal anatomy occurred during the Cambrian period, although it is unclear when key structures like the heart and brain first appeared.
The researchers said that creatures with cardiovascular systems presumably lived earlier than this creature, but evidence is simply lacking in the fossil record.
This creature’s genus name, Fuxianhuia, comes from a lake in the region where it was unearthed. Its species name, protensa, means “elongated,” referring to its body’s trunk region.
(Reporting by Will Dunham; Editing by Grant McCool)
JERUSALEM (AP) — Tens of thousands of Palestinians living in east Jerusalem have been without running water for more than a month, victims of a decrepit and overwhelmed infrastructure and caught in a legal no-man’s land caused by the divisions of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The residents of the Shuafat refugee camp are technically part of the Jerusalem municipality. But they live outside the massive West Bank separation barrier that Israel has built. So Israeli services are sparse, yet Palestinian authorities are barred from operating there or developing the water system.
The local Israeli water authority says the existing system of pipes cannot handle the rapid population growth of the area and it is scrambling to solve the problem. Last week, the Israeli Supreme Court gave officials 60 days to find a solution.
But with the scorching summer season approaching, residents are growing increasingly desperate. Basic tasks like brushing teeth are a challenge. Showers have become a luxury. Families often send their clothes to relatives elsewhere in the city to wash them.
“Sixty days — that’s a lot of time for us,” said Hani Taha, a local butcher. “There will be chaos here.”
Israel captured then-mainly Arab east Jerusalem in the 1967 Middle East war. After the war, it redrew Jerusalem’s municipal boundary, expanding it into the West Bank to encompass what were then small Palestinian communities, and annexed the lands that were made part of the city.
The annexation was never internationally recognized. Israel considers all of east Jerusalem, including Shuafat, to be part of its capital, building a ring of Jewish districts in the city. Some 200,000 Israeli Jews and 300,000 Palestinians now live in east Jerusalem, which the Palestinians demand as the capital of a future nation.
Palestinians have long complained that the city neglects roads, schools and public services in Arab neighborhoods of east Jerusalem. The situation has worsened for areas like Shuafat since Israel built its separation barrier last decade.
The barrier, which Israel says is needed to keep attackers from entering the city, has cut some neighborhoods in half, leaving thousands of people on the outside. Anyone entering or exiting Shuafat, for instance, must pass through an Israeli military checkpoint.
Residents said they first began to feel the water crunch last month, when the water cut out on March 4. Since then, service has been scarce and often non-existent. Residents buy bottles or large jerrycans of water to get by.
A lack of hydraulic pressure from the month-long shortage has forced desperate residents to lower rooftop tanks to ground level and fill them by hand.
On one block, three large black tanks sat stagnant in a pile of rotting trash and empty plastic bottles. Six pumps and a snarl of tubing had been rigged to force water upward.
But faucets in the adjacent building were running dry. Young men could be seen lugging large plastic containers up flights of stairs into a home. A young girl held a bag of water bottles for her family.
“When my kids want to go to school, there’s no water to wash themselves. My husband goes to work and it’s the same thing,” said Umm Osama al-Najar, pointing at a pile of dirty dishes in her kitchen sink.
“Sometimes I go into the bathroom and I am disgusted, especially when so many people use the bathroom and there is no water to flush. It’s very important that we get the water back here. It’s breaking my heart.”
Israeli officials are at a loss to explain the cause of the crisis. The neighborhood has suffered from water shortages in the past, but residents say this year is the worst they can remember. Officials speculated that an exceptionally dry winter — the only time the region experiences rainfall — may be to blame.
Much of the problem stems from Israel’s construction of the separation barrier.
Arab residents of east Jerusalem, in contrast to Palestinians in the neighboring West Bank, have Israeli residency rights, giving them the ability to move freely inside Israel and qualifying them for Israeli health care and social benefits.
With residents fearful of losing these rights if they leave the city limits, Arab neighborhoods on the Israeli side of the barrier have seen real estate values skyrocket in recent years.
Outlying areas like Shuafat have experienced a wave of unregulated construction as people search for cheaper housing within municipal boundaries. Israeli work crews rarely venture into these areas, fearing confrontations with the local population.
“It’s kind of the classic east Jerusalem trap,” said Ronit Sela, a spokeswoman for the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, which has led the legal battle on behalf of Shuafat residents.
“We’re talking about an area that was cut off from the rest of the city by a wall, where the Israeli authorities don’t go in, an area that was neglected even before the wall was set up, no water connection, no infrastructure. And of course the number of people continues to rise,” she said.
“Now the whole water system collapses. And when it collapses, no one takes responsibility.”
Hagihon, the local water carrier in Jerusalem, said there is little it can do. It said the rapid growth, lack of proper urban planning and rampant use of unauthorized “pirated” pipes have overwhelmed the infrastructure.
Eli Cohen, a deputy director at the company, said the system was built to serve about 15,000 people. He believes the population has swelled to 60,000-80,000. Few homes have water meters, meaning that some 97 percent of the population doesn’t pay for its water, he said.
“Unfortunately, this whole burden falls on Hagihon,” he said. “We have a national, political problem here. This is beyond our jurisdiction, but we are the only government body left to deal with it.”
Israel’s National Water Authority denied responsibility and said it is supervising Hagihon in finding a solution.
“I can’t tell you right now what the plan will be,” Cohen said. “The issue is to find a solution that is sustainable.”
The nearby Jewish area of Pisgav Zeev, just a few hundred meters away inside the wall, suffers no such problems. Cohen said Pisgat Zeev has a recognized infrastructure and residents pay for their water like other Israeli customers.
The Palestinian Authority, the self-rule government in the West Bank, provides water to people in the areas it governs but is barred from operating inside Jerusalem’s city limits.
In the meantime, residents are forced to buy expensive water and wait out the drought.
“Without water, can we live?” said Aida Subhi Hamoud, a mother of 11 who has lived in the camp for 40-years. “We can afford to buy water to drink, but what about the rest, the laundry, the showers? Water is the lifeblood of the home.”
Follow Gerberg on Twitter @JonGerberg.