featured artist: Mark Langan
visit Mark's site, here.
And in the news, we have:
Economists fear that the nascent recovery will leave more people behind than in past recessions, failing to create jobs in sufficient numbers to absorb the record-setting ranks of the long-term unemployed.
Some labor experts say the basic functioning of the American economy has changed in ways that make jobs scarce.
Large companies are increasingly owned by institutional investors who crave swift profits, a feat often achieved by cutting payroll. The declining influence of unions has made it easier for employers to shift work to part-time and temporary employees. Factory work and even white-collar jobs have moved in recent years to low-cost countries in Asia and Latin America. Automation has helped manufacturing cut 5.6 million jobs since 2000 — the sort of jobs that once provided lower-skilled workers with middle-class paychecks.
For the last 20 years, astronomers seeking to measure the cosmos have used a special type of exploding star, known as Type 1a supernovas, as distance markers. They are thought to result when stars known as white dwarfs grow beyond a certain weight limit, setting off a thermonuclear cataclysm that is not only bright enough to be seen across the universe but is also remarkably uniform from one supernova to the next. Using them, two teams of astronomers a little more than a decade ago reached the startling and now widely held conclusion that some “dark energy” was speeding up the expansion of the universe.
But astronomers have not been able to agree on how the white dwarf gains its fatal weight and explodes, whether by slowly grabbing material from a neighboring star or by crashing into another white dwarf. These observations leave open the possibility that accreting dwarfs might be responsible for more of the supernovas in spiral galaxies like our own, which tend to have younger, more massive stars.
A deadly, 8.8-magnitude earthquake struck central Chile early Saturday, collapsing buildings, shattering major bridges and highways across a long swath of the country, and sending tsunami warnings along the entire Pacific basin. The earthquake struck at 3:34 a.m. in central Chile, centered roughly 200 miles southwest of Santiago, at a depth of 22 miles. 122 deaths have been confirmed within the first 12 hours of the quake, doubtless with many more to follow.
The earthquake occurred along the same fault responsible for the biggest quake ever measured, a 1960 tremor (9.5-magnitude) that killed thousands in Chile and hundreds more across the Pacific. Both earthquakes took place along a fault line where the Nazca tectonic plate, the section of the earth’s crust that lies under much of the Eastern Pacific Ocean south of the Equator, is sliding beneath another section, the South American plate. The two are converging at a rate of about three and a half inches per year.
Earthquake experts said the strains built up by that movement, plus the stresses added along the fault line by the 1960 quake and smaller ones in the intervening years, led to the rupture on Saturday along what is estimated to be about 400 miles of the fault. The quake generated a tsunami, with wave heights of about five feet recorded along the Chilean coast and larger waves forecast for Hawaii and elsewhere in the Pacific.
This earthquake appears to have no connection to a magnitude 6.9 quake that struck off the southern coast of Japan on Saturday, nor to the magnitude 7.0 quake that occurred in Haiti on January 12th.
That's about it for today.