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Thursday, April 21, 2016

THE LATEST UPDATES ON SOLAR IMPULSE 2 AND ZIKA


After a nine month vacation to fix flawed batteries and waiting for more sunlight, following a farewell hula by Miss Hawaii 2013 Stephanie Steuri, Solar Impulse 2 finally took off from Hawaii, and is expected to land at Moffatt Field in Mountain View, California Saturday night.  I'm quite familiar with this NASA airport, for I spent a summer on a Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence project here, where my office was next door to the Blackbird.  The trip began more than a year ago on 9 March 2015 when the plane took off from Abu Dhabi.  


The most trying leg was the nearly five day flight from Japan to Honolulu.   Here are pilots Bertrand Piccard (who piloted the departure today) and Andre Borschberg (he flew the SI2 to Hawaii) when the aircraft landed in Hawaii.   The original goal was to complete the trip within the first year, so now to Plan B.

On a related energy matter, the U.S. Senate passed an all-inclusive energy bill yesterday.  Leading the effort were Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chair Lisa Murkowski and ranking Democrat, Senator Maria Cantrell (on the left).  The House version is mostly about fossil fuels, but there are reasons to believe that the measure will remain broad through the negotiation process, partly because this appears to be a bipartisan effort.  If Congress eventually passes this measure, this will be first energy authorization bill in a dozen years.

  • Males with Zika can infect a pregnant female through sexual intercourse. 
  • Mothers to be must be infected with Zika in the first three months of pregnancy.
  • Up to 30% of babies born from mothers who contract this mosquito-caused disease suffer from some kind of birth defect.
  • However, microcephaly (shrunken skull) might perhaps occur in  only 1% of births.
  • In addition, Zika has been linked to a nerve disorder called Guillain-Barre Syndrome.
Zika was brought into Brazil, it is suspected, by Polynesian spectators to the 2014 World Cup.  Now with the upcoming Summer Olympics and the impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff, the leader of the government by the time of the Olympics could be Michel Temer (wife Marcela to his right).  How's this for a particularly frightening catastrophe:  visitors and athletes returning home to infect the world.

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Tropical Cyclone Fantala has weakened to 105 miles per hour, will soon roll over the northern tip of Madagascar, then head towards Tanzania.


In the Pacific, Tropical Cyclone Amos has formed west of Samoa, and could attain Category 2 strength by the time he threatens Samoa and American Samoa:




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