Actor Anne Heche legally dead after crash

In this file photo taken on February 26, 2011 actress Anne Heche arrives at the Spirit Awards in Santa Monica, California. (AFP)
In this file photo taken on February 26, 2011 actress Anne Heche arrives at the Spirit Awards in Santa Monica, California. (AFP)
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Updated 13 August 2022

Actor Anne Heche legally dead after crash

In this file photo taken on February 26, 2011 actress Anne Heche arrives at the Spirit Awards in Santa Monica, California. (AFP)
  • “Anne will be deeply missed but she lives on through her beautiful sons, her iconic body of work, and her passionate advocacy

LOS ANGELES: Hollywood actor Anne Heche has been declared legally dead, one week after she crashed her car into a Los Angeles building, a spokeswoman said Friday.
Heche, 53, had been comatose in hospital with a severe brain injury since the fiery collision on August 5.
Having lost all brain function, she is “legally dead according to California law,” though her heart is still beating as her family keeps her body on life support while exploring organ donations, spokeswoman Holly Baird told AFP.
“Today we lost a bright light, a kind and most joyful soul, a loving mother, and a loyal friend,” the family said in a joint statement.
“Anne will be deeply missed but she lives on through her beautiful sons, her iconic body of work, and her passionate advocacy.
“Her bravery for always standing in her truth, spreading her message of love and acceptance, will continue to have a lasting impact.”
Heche, best known for 1990s movies “Donnie Brasco” and “Six Days, Seven Nights” as well as a high-profile relationship with talk show host Ellen DeGeneres, crashed her car into a two-story house in the Mar Vista neighborhood of Los Angeles.
The violent collision resulted in “structural compromise and... heavy fire” at the scene, according to the Los Angeles Fire Department.
The ensuing blaze took 59 firefighters more than an hour to contain and fully extinguish, the department said.
Local media reported Thursday that preliminary tests of Heche’s blood had come back positive for narcotics, though more were needed to ensure the drugs had not been administered in the course of her treatment.
Celebrity gossip outlet TMZ, citing unnamed police sources, said Heche had tested positive for cocaine and fentanyl, with the latter sometimes used for pain relief in clinical settings.
Heche rose to fame with her role on the soap opera “Another World,” for which she won a Daytime Emmy in 1991.
She was nominated for a Tony award for her appearance in “Twentieth Century” on Broadway in 2004.
“My brother Atlas and I lost our Mom,” Heche’s son Homer Laffoon said in a separate statement.
“Hopefully my mom is free from pain and beginning to explore what I like to imagine as her eternal freedom,” he wrote.


NASA’s DART spacecraft hits target asteroid in test of planetary defense system

NASA’s DART spacecraft hits target asteroid in test of planetary defense system
Updated 53 min 22 sec ago

NASA’s DART spacecraft hits target asteroid in test of planetary defense system

NASA’s DART spacecraft hits target asteroid in test of planetary defense system
  • DART’s celestial target is an asteroid “moonlet” about 560 feet (170 meters) in diameter that orbits a parent asteroid five times larger called Didymos as part of a binary pair with the same name, the Greek word for twin

CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida: A NASA spacecraft rammed an asteroid at blistering speed Monday in an unprecedented dress rehearsal for the day a killer rock menaces Earth.
The galactic grand slam occurred at a harmless asteroid 7 million miles (9.6 million kilometers) away, with the spacecraft named Dart plowing into the small space rock at 14,000 mph (22,500 kph). Scientists expected the impact to carve out a crater, hurl streams of rocks and dirt into space and, most importantly, alter the asteroid’s orbit.
Telescopes around the world and in space aimed at the same point in the sky to capture the spectacle. Though the impact was immediately obvious — Dart’s radio signal abruptly ceased — it will be days or even weeks to determine how much the asteroid’s path was changed.
The $325 million mission was the first attempt to shift the position of an asteroid or any other natural object in space.
“No, this is not a movie plot,” NASA Administrator Bill Nelson tweeted earlier in the day. ”We’ve all seen it on movies like ‘Armageddon,’ but the real-life stakes are high,” he said in a prerecorded video.
Monday’s target: a 525-foot (160-meter) asteroid named Dimorphos. It’s actually a moonlet of Didymos, Greek for twin, a fast-spinning asteroid five times bigger that flung off the material that formed the junior partner.
The pair have been orbiting the sun for eons without threatening Earth, making them ideal save-the-world test candidates.
Launched last November, the vending machine-size Dart — short for Double Asteroid Redirection Test — navigated to its target using new technology developed by Johns Hopkins University’s Applied Physics Laboratory, the spacecraft builder and mission manager.
Dart’s on-board camera, a key part of this smart navigation system, caught sight of Dimorphos barely an hour before impact.
“Woo hoo,” exclaimed Johns Hopkins mission systems engineer Elena Adams. “We’re seeing Dimorphos, so wonderful, wonderful.”
With an image beaming back to Earth every second, Adams and other ground controllers in Laurel, Maryland, watched with growing excitement as Dimorphos loomed larger and larger in the field of view alongside its bigger companion.
A mini satellite followed a few minutes behind to take photos of the impact. The Italian Cubesat was released from Dart two weeks ago.
Scientists insisted Dart would not shatter Dimorphos. The spacecraft packed a scant 1,260 pounds (570 kilograms), compared with the asteroid’s 11 billion pounds (5 billion kilograms). But that should be plenty to shrink its 11-hour, 55-minute orbit around Didymos.
The impact should pare 10 minutes off that, but telescopes will need anywhere from a few days to nearly a month to verify the new orbit. The anticipated orbital shift of 1 percent might not sound like much, scientists noted. But they stressed it would amount to a significant change over years.
Planetary defense experts prefer nudging a threatening asteroid or comet out of the way, given enough lead time, rather than blowing it up and creating multiple pieces that could rain down on Earth. Multiple impactors might be needed for big space rocks or a combination of impactors and so-called gravity tractors, not-yet-invented devices that would use their own gravity to pull an asteroid into a safer orbit.
“The dinosaurs didn’t have a space program to help them know what was coming, but we do,” NASA’s senior climate adviser Katherine Calvin said, referring to the mass extinction 66 million years ago believed to have been caused by a major asteroid impact, volcanic eruptions or both.
The non-profit B612 Foundation, dedicated to protecting Earth from asteroid strikes, has been pushing for impact tests like Dart since its founding by astronauts and physicists 20 years ago. Monday’s feat aside, the world must do a better job of identifying the countless space rocks lurking out there, warned the foundation’s executive director, Ed Lu, a former astronaut.
Significantly less than half of the estimated 25,000 near-Earth objects in the deadly 460-foot (140-meter) range have been discovered, according to NASA. And fewer than 1 percent of the millions of smaller asteroids, capable of widespread injuries, are known.
The Vera Rubin Observatory, nearing completion in Chile by the National Science Foundation and US Energy Department, promises to revolutionize the field of asteroid discovery, Lu noted.
Finding and tracking asteroids, “That’s still the name of the game here. That’s the thing that has to happen in order to protect the Earth,” he said.
 

 


Google celebrates Saudi National Day with Doodle

Google celebrates Saudi National Day with Doodle
Updated 23 September 2022

Google celebrates Saudi National Day with Doodle

Google celebrates Saudi National Day with Doodle
  • Doodle marks the Kingdom’s 92nd national day

LONDON: Google has joined Saudi Arabia in the celebrating of its national day with one of its famous Google Doodles, with an image of the Kingdom’s flag on the search engine’s homepage on Friday.

Only visible in Saudi Arabia, the doodle marks the Kingdom’s 92nd national day – known in Arabic as Al-Yaom-ul-Watany.

It was in 1932 that a royal decree was signed calling for the unification of the dual Kingdom of Nejd and Hejaz under the name of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

The Google doodle features the Kingdom’s green flag which was adopted in 1973.


Outspoken Myanmar beauty queen held by Thai immigration

Outspoken Myanmar beauty queen held by Thai immigration
Updated 23 September 2022

Outspoken Myanmar beauty queen held by Thai immigration

Outspoken Myanmar beauty queen held by Thai immigration
  • Han Lay has been held at Bangkok's main international airport since Thursday after arriving on a flight from Vietnam
  • In a post on her verified Facebook page on Friday, Han Lay said she feared the Myanmar police would come and get her at the airport

BANGKOK: A Myanmar beauty queen who spoke out against the military coup in her homeland appealed Friday for help after being refused entry to Thailand by immigration officials.
Thaw Nandar Aung, better known by her professional moniker Han Lay, has been held at Bangkok’s main international airport since Thursday after arriving on a flight from Vietnam.
She made headlines in March 2021 when she urged the world to “save” the people of Myanmar from the military, which had seized power a month earlier.
Thai immigration officials said she was denied entry to the kingdom because of a problem with her passport.
In a post on her verified Facebook page on Friday, Han Lay said she feared the Myanmar police would come and get her at the airport.
“I request to Thai authority from here please help for me,” she wrote in English, adding that she had contacted the UN refugee agency.
A Thai official told AFP that Myanmar police had not spoken to her and said it was up to her to decide where to fly to from Bangkok.
While in Bangkok competing in the Miss Grand International contest, the former psychology student spoke out against the coup, which ousted the civilian government led by Aung San Suu Kyi.
“I want to say from here to the world: please support the Myanmar people,” she told Thailand’s Khaosod English news outlet.
“So many people die in Myanmar by the guns of the military... Please save us.”
Myanmar has been in chaos since the coup, with the junta struggling to quell resistance to its rule.
A military crackdown on dissent has left more than 2,300 civilians dead, according to a local monitoring group.
The junta puts the civilian death toll at almost 3,900.


Israeli researchers find opium residue in 3,500-year-old pottery

Israeli researchers find opium residue in 3,500-year-old pottery
Updated 20 September 2022

Israeli researchers find opium residue in 3,500-year-old pottery

Israeli researchers find opium residue in 3,500-year-old pottery
  • The joint investigation by the Israel Antiquities Authority and Weizmann Institute of Science began in 2012
  • Researchers found pottery vessels at the site that resembled poppy flowers dating back to the 14th century BC

YEHUD, Israel: Israeli archaeologists said Tuesday they had discovered opium residue in 3,500-year-old pottery pieces, providing evidence to support the theory that the hallucinogenic drug was used in ancient burial rituals.
The joint investigation by the Israel Antiquities Authority and Weizmann Institute of Science began in 2012 when excavations in the central Israeli town of Yehud revealed a series of Late Bronze Age graves.
Researchers found pottery vessels at the site that resembled poppy flowers — from which opium is derived — dating back to the 14th century BC.
They then examined whether they had served as containers for the drug, which earlier writing had suggested was used in burial rituals in Canaan, and found “opium residue in eight vessels,” the researchers said in a statement.
These were likely “placed in graves for ceremonial meals, rites and rituals performed by the living for their deceased family members,” said Ron Be’eri, an archaeologist with the antiquities authority.
During these ceremonies, “family members or a priest on their behalf” would “attempt to summon the spirit of their dead relatives... and enter an ecstatic state by using opium,” Be’eri said.
But he acknowledged that much remained unknown about its use in ancient times. “We can only speculate what was done with opium,” he said.


NASA’s InSight lander detects space rocks as they slam into Mars

NASA’s InSight lander detects space rocks as they slam into Mars
Updated 20 September 2022

NASA’s InSight lander detects space rocks as they slam into Mars

NASA’s InSight lander detects space rocks as they slam into Mars

WASHINGTON: Mars, by virtue of its tenuous atmosphere and proximity to our solar system’s asteroid belt, is far more vulnerable than Earth to being struck by space rocks — one of the many differences between the two planetary neighbors.
Scientists are now gaining a fuller understanding of this Martian trait, with help from NASA’s robotic InSight lander. Researchers on Monday described how InSight detected seismic and acoustic waves from the impact of four meteorites and then calculated the location of the craters they left — the first such measurements anywhere other than Earth.
The researchers used observations from NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter in space to confirm the crater locations.
“These seismic measurements give us a completely new tool for investigating Mars, or any other planet we can land a seismometer on,” said planetary geophysicist Bruce Banerdt of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the InSight mission’s principal investigator.
The space rocks InSight tracked — one landing in 2020 and the other three in 2021 — were relatively modest in size, estimated to weigh up to about 440 pounds (200 kg), with diameters of up to about 20 inches (50 cm) and leaving craters of up to about 24 feet (7.2 meters) wide. They landed between 53 miles (85 km) and 180 miles (290 km) from InSight’s location. One exploded into at least three pieces that each gouged their own craters.
“We can connect a known source type, location and size to what the seismic signal looks like. We can apply this information to better understand InSight’s entire catalog of seismic events, and use the results on other planets and moons, too,” said Brown University planetary scientist Ingrid Daubar, a co-author of the study published in the journal Nature Geoscience https://www.nature.com/articles/s41561-022-01014-0.
The researchers believe that now the seismic signature of such impacts has been discovered they expect to find more contained in InSight’s data, going back to 2018.
The three-legged InSight — its name is short for Interior Exploration Using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport — landed in 2018 in a vast and relatively flat plain just north of the Martian equator called Elysium Planitia.
“The moon is also a target for future meteor impact detection,” said planetary scientist and study lead author Raphael Garcia of the University of Toulouse’s ISAE-SUPAERO institute of aeronautics and space.
“And it may be the same sensors will do it, because the spare sensors of InSight are currently integrated in the Farside Seismic Suite instrument for a flight to the moon in 2025,” Garcia added, referring to an instrument due to be placed near the lunar south pole on the side of the moon permanently facing away from Earth.
Mars is about twice as likely as Earth to have its atmosphere hit by a meteoroid — the name for a space rock before it strikes the surface. However, Earth has a much thicker atmosphere that protects the planet.
“So meteoroids usually break up and disintegrate in the Earth’s atmosphere, forming fireballs that only rarely reach the surface to form a crater. In comparison on Mars, hundreds of impact craters are forming somewhere on the planet’s surface every year,” Daubar said.
The Martian atmosphere is only about 1 percent as thick as Earth’s. The asteroid belt, an abundant source of space rocks, is located between Mars and Jupiter.
The scientific goals set for InSight ahead of the mission were to investigate the internal structure and processes of Mars, as well as studying seismic activity and meteorite impacts.
InSight’s seismometer instrument established that Mars is seismically active, detecting more than 1,300 marsquakes. In research published last year, seismic waves detected by InSight helped decipher the internal structure of Mars, including the first estimates of the size of its large liquid metal core, thickness of its crust, and nature of its mantle.