Secret space plane lands at US air force base after unknown two-year mission

"The US air force’s first unmanned re-entry spacecraft landed at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. Photograph: US AIR FORCE/Reuters"

“The US air force’s first unmanned re-entry spacecraft landed at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. Photograph: US AIR FORCE/Reuters”

via The Guardian:

A top-secret space plane landed Friday at an air force base on the southern California coast.

The plane spent nearly two years circling Earth on a classified mission. Known as the X-37B, it resembles a mini space shuttle.

It safely touched down at 9.24am Friday, officials at Vandenberg Air Force Base said.

Just what the plane was doing during its 674 days in orbit has been the subject of sometimes spectacular speculation.

Several experts have theorized it carried a payload of spy gear in its cargo bay. Other theories sound straight out of a James Bond film, including that the spacecraft would be able to capture the satellites of other nations or shadow China’s space lab.

In a written release announcing the return of the craft, the air force only said it had been conducting “on-orbit experiments”.

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Sex Is Only For Rich People

An interesting hypothesis, brought to you by the Washington Post:

America has decided: Sex is for rich people. Non-procreative sex in particular.

How else would you explain the trap we’re laying for poor people who deign to get it on?

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Our country apparently doesn’t want low-income Americans to have free access to birth control, either by compelling all insurance plans to offer it or by adequately funding public reproductive health programs. In many schools — predominantly located in low-income, high-teen-pregnancy areas — we don’t even teach kids how contraception works. We also don’t want them to have easy access to abortions when they inevitably get pregnant because they’re not using birth control, with states such as Texas and Mississippi trying to shutter their few remaining abortion clinics.

Then we don’t help them very much after they birth those unplanned kids, instead publicly chastising irresponsible single mothers for having babies they can’t afford and offering little assistance in the form of child care, education or cash.

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An Italian Couple Get Stuck Together During Intercourse “Due to Suction”

By Patricia Gavra via Flickr (CC BY-ND 2.0)

By Patricia Gavra via Flickr (CC BY-ND 2.0)

h/t io9

via The Local:

Il Mattino reported that the amorous couple were making the most of a warm day, and a practically deserted beach, when they decided to take a dip in the ocean at Porto San Giorgio to express their love.

But their lovemaking came to an embarrassing end when the man was unable to extricate himself from the woman due to suction, the newspaper said.

They remained in the water until they caught the attention of a woman walking along the beach, who gave them a towel after they struggled back to the shore.

A doctor was called and they were taken to a hospital emergency room. There the woman was given an injection usually used to dilate the uterus of pregnant women, in order to untangle the couple.

This is not the first report to emerge this year of a couple getting stuck together while having sex.

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Satan’s Hollow – The Portal from Ohio to Hell

This video by a YouTube channel called ‘”Believe’ A Paranormal Experience” follows two young men on a pilgrimage/road-trip across country to visit paranormal places. Their last stop requires venturing into a storm drain known as “Satan’s Hollow” which allegedly hosts/hosted devil worshipers and demonic rituals. The radio device they use to communicate with the netherworld at the end is a nice touch.

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The Polar Vortex Will Be Back

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via Accuweather:

Though parts of the Northeast and mid-Atlantic had a gradual introduction to fall, winter will arrive without delay. Cold air and high snow amounts will define the season.

Farther south, ice storms and snow events will threaten the Tennessee Valley and parts of the southern Plains. Much of the South can prepare for a wet winter, with some severe weather encroaching on Florida.

The northern Plains will be somewhat inconsistent with variable, back-and-forth temperatures and below-normal snowfall. Meanwhile, the drought will persist in the Northwest and northern California and ease slightly farther south.

After record-shattering temperatures and high snow totals last winter in the Northeast, a similar theme will continue into the 2014-2015 season.

Cold air will surge into the Northeast in late November, but the brunt of the season will hold off until January and February. The polar vortex, the culprit responsible for several days of below-zero temperatures last year, will slip down into the region from time to time, delivering blasts of arctic air.

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New Theory May Explain the Symptoms of Autism

By hepingting via Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0).

By hepingting via Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0).

via Psyblog:

People with autism often display a complex and confusing range of symptoms, including hypersensitivity to sound, problems interacting with others and repetitive behaviours.

Scientist have long wondered what all these — and other, seemingly unrelated symptoms — have in common.

Now MIT researchers are testing a brand new theory: that autistic children have difficulties predicting what is going to happen next, and it’s this problem that is at the root of autism (Sinha et al., 2014).

Without the ability to predict simple events, to an autistic child, life seems to happen randomly and almost magically, with no rhyme or reason.

Professor Pawan Sinha, the lead author of the new paper, explains:

“If we were unable to habituate to stimuli, then the world would become overwhelming very quickly.

It’s like you can’t escape this cacophony that’s falling on your ears or that you’re observing.”

From this point of view, the repetitive behaviours, the preference for highly structured and predictable environments may be coping strategies.

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Tornado Clusters are on the Rise

By Jmos® via Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0)

By Jmos® via Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0)

via Live Science:

Tornadoes are touching down in clusters more often than 50 years ago, a new study reports. On some days, more than 30 twisters strike the United States.

Even as storms spawn more tornadoes, there are fewer days on which tornadoes occur, according to the study, published today (Oct. 15) in the journal Science. Since the 1970s, the number of days with at least one EF-1 tornado has dropped from a mean (or average) of 150 to 100.

“When people ask, ‘Are we getting more tornadoes, are we getting fewer tornadoes, are they later, are they earlier?’ — the answer to everything is yes,” said lead study author Harold Brooks, senior scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Severe Storms Laboratory in Norman, Oklahoma.

While it’s clear that something about tornados in the United States is changing, there is no strong evidence that climate change is to blame.

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