Millions in US get set for rare total solar eclipse

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A total solar eclipse is seen from the beach of Ternate island, Indonesia, on March 9, 2016. (File Photo by Reuters)
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A photographer sets up a camera at his campsite at sunrise as he prepares for the solar eclipse on Monday, Aug 21, 2017. (AP)
Updated 21 August 2017
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Millions in US get set for rare total solar eclipse

MADRAS, USA: Skygazers across the United States awoke in excited anticipation Monday of witnessing the Sun briefly disappear, with the first total solar eclipse in 99 years to cast a shadow on the entire continent just hours away.
Millions of travelers converged in cities along the darkest path of what has been coined “The Great American Eclipse,” which begins in the morning over Oregon and exits in the afternoon over South Carolina.
Festivals, rooftop parties, weddings, camping and kayak trips and astronomy meet-ups popped up nationwide for what NASA expects will be the most heavily photographed and documented eclipse in modern times, thanks to the era of social media.
More than 100,000 people have gathered in Madras, Oregon, typically a town of 7,000 that is one of the first places to see the eclipse once it begins.
The National Guard had to be called in to assist with traffic jams, the Los Angeles Times reported.
In downtown Charleston, vendor Jan Dahouas sold T-shirts emblazoned with “Eclipse 2017” and buttons that read “Keep Calm and Stare at the Sun.”
“I am really pumped up about it,” said Dahouas, who is from Atlanta, Georgia.
“I hear it is supposed to be really moving.”
Many people who have seen eclipses in the past describe the experience as an emotional one, as the sky goes black, birds return to their nests and the air chills.
“It is such an incredible, sensory-overload kind of event,” eclipse-chaser Fred Espenak told AFP of the first total solar eclipse he saw in the United States back in 1970.
Espenak, now 65, is a retired NASA astrophysicist who has been to 27 eclipses, and seen 20 of them — cloudy weather interfered with the rest. He will be in Wyoming on Monday.
The “total” part of the eclipse, when the Moon moves between the Earth and Sun and blocks all of the Sun’s light, starts at 10:16 local time (1716 GMT) over the Pacific coast of Oregon and ends at 2:48 p.m. (1848 GMT) over Charleston, South Carolina.
The total eclipse will carve a 70-mile (113-kilometer) wide path of darkness over 14 states.
Experts warn that looking directly at an eclipse can cause permanent eye damage.
The only safe time to look at it is for those within the path of totality — and only during the brief moments when the Sun is completely blocked.
Everyone else should use proper solar eyeglasses, which are far darker than regular ones, or make a pinhole projector to see the eclipse while avoiding the glare of the Sun.
Cloudy weather and thunderstorms threatened to dash viewers’ hopes in some places, including the bustling coastal city of Charleston, replete with cobblestone streets and multi-story mansions.
Some of the clearest views were expected along the west coast and in the midwest.
For those unable to witness it in person, NASA was counting down the minutes until it begins a live broadcast of the event at 11:45 am (1545 GMT).
Scientists plan to study the eclipse to learn more about the super-hot corona, or outer edge of the Sun.
Astronauts orbiting the Earth aboard the International Space Station are also planning to document the eclipse, and will get to see it three times.
“My first solar eclipse from space... We’re ready!” wrote Italian astronaut Paolo Nespoli.


Massive diamond cache detected beneath Earth’s surface

Updated 18 July 2018
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Massive diamond cache detected beneath Earth’s surface

  • “This shows that diamond is not perhaps this exotic mineral..."
  • These naturally occurring precious minerals are located far deeper than any drilling expedition has ever reached

WASHINGTON: There’s a load of bling buried in the Earth.
More than a quadrillion tons of diamonds to be exact — or one thousand times more than one trillion — US researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology reported this week.
But don’t expect a diamond rush. These naturally occurring precious minerals are located far deeper than any drilling expedition has ever reached, about 90 to 150 miles (145 to 240 kilometers) below the surface of our planet.
“We can’t get at them, but still, there is much more diamond there than we have ever thought before,” said Ulrich Faul, a research scientist in MIT’s Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences.
“This shows that diamond is not perhaps this exotic mineral, but on the scale of things, it’s relatively common.”
Using seismic technology to analyze how sound waves pass through the Earth, scientists detected the treasure trove in rocks called cratonic roots, which are shaped like inverted mountains that stretch through the Earth’s crust and into the mantle.
These are “the oldest and most immovable sections of rock that lie beneath the center of most continental tectonic plates,” explained MIT in a statement.
The project to uncover deep Earth diamonds began because scientists were puzzled by observations that sound waves would speed up significantly when passing through the roots of ancient cratons.
So they assembled virtual rocks, made from various combinations of minerals, to calculate how fast sound waves would travel through them.
“Diamond in many ways is special,” Faul said.
“One of its special properties is, the sound velocity in diamond is more than twice as fast as in the dominant mineral in upper mantle rocks, olivine.”
They found that the only type of rock that matched the speeds they were detecting in craton would contain one to two percent diamond.
Scientists now believe the Earth’s ancient underground rocks contain at least 1,000 times more diamond than previously expected.
Still, very few of these gems are expected to make their way to the jewelry store.
Diamonds are made from carbon, and are formed under high-pressure and extreme temperatures deep in the Earth.
They emerge near the surface only through volcanic eruptions that occur rarely — on the order of every few tens of millions of years.