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UPI NewsTrack Science and Technology News

March 1, 2013 at 6:35 PM   |   Comments

Russian meteor misidentified by most

MOSCOW, March 1 (UPI) -- Most of the inhabitants of the Russian city under an exploding meteor failed to identify it for what it was, a poll indicated.

While nearly half the residents in Chelyabinsk, hit by fragments from a falling meteorite Feb. 15, saw the object streak across the early morning sky, most thought it was either a falling aircraft, a military attack or a UFO, a poll by the Public Opinion Foundation, based in Moscow, found.

Forty-seven percent of the population of Chelyabinsk, a city in the Urals with a population of around 1 million, reported they saw the meteorite.

But only 10 percent correctly guessed what they were observing, the poll found.

Forty percent believed it was a falling plane, 8 percent thought it was a rocket launch gone wrong, 6 percent believed it was an explosion of some kind and 5 percent believed the city was under attack by rocket fire, RIA Novosti reported Friday.

Four percent thought it was a UFO.

The poll was carried out by telephone among 500 respondents Feb. 23-24. The margin of error was 4.5 percentage points, the polling foundation said.


Radioactive fish caught near nuclear plant

TOKYO, March 1 (UPI) -- A fish caught near the Fukushima nuclear plant contained levels of radioactivity 5,100 times above the state-set safety limit, Tokyo Electric Power Co. said.

The greenling fish, caught in the small harbor by the plant damaged in the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami, contained 231,000 becquerels of radioactive cesium per pound, Kyodo News reported Friday.

If someone were to eat around 2 pounds of fish with this level they would be exposed to about 7.7 millisieverts of internal radiation, about the dose received in a full-body CT scan.

Tepco has set up a 6-foot-tall net at the seafloor of the harbor, which has been significantly contaminated with radioactive substances, to prevent bottom fish from swimming out.

During efforts by Tepco to rid the harbor of all fish, a spotbelly rockfish containing 125,000 becquerels of radioactive cesium per pound was also caught, officials said.


Study: Volcanoes have climate effect

BOULDER, Colo., March 1 (UPI) -- The reason why Earth did not warm as much as expected between 2000 and 2010 could be down to dozens of volcanoes spewing sulfur dioxide, U.S. scientist say.

A team led by the University of Colorado Boulder said emissions from moderate volcanoes around the world might have masked some of the effects of global warming.

Sulfur dioxide emissions from Earth's surface eventually rise 12 to 20 miles into the stratospheric aerosol layer of the atmosphere, where chemical reactions create sulfuric acid and water particles that reflect sunlight back to space, cooling the planet, the researchers said.

Scientists have been blaming increases in stratospheric aerosols since 2000 on human greenhouse gas emissions, but volcanoes may have been responsible for as much as 25 percent of it, they said.

"This new study indicates it is emissions from small to moderate volcanoes that have been slowing the warming of the planet," CU-Boulder doctoral candidate Ryan Neely said.

The study suggests scientists need to pay more attention to volcanoes when trying to understand changes in Earth's climate, atmospheric and oceanic sciences Professor Brian Toon said.

"But overall these eruptions are not going to counter the greenhouse effect," he said. "Emissions of volcanic gases go up and down, helping to cool or heat the planet, while greenhouse gas emissions from human activity just continue to go up."


Judge halves Apple award, sets new trial

SAN FRANCISCO, March 1 (UPI) -- A U.S. judge has voided nearly half of Apple's $1 billion patent judgment against Samsung, calling for a new trial to set revised damage amounts.

U.S. District Court Judge Lucy Koh, sitting at the Northern District of California, agreed with Samsung's lawyers the jury had erred last August in some of its damage calculations for the 14 Samsung products it said violated Apple patents, meaning that a new trial must be conducted to determine what the damages should be for those devices, techcrunch.com reported Friday.

Devices included in the new trial would include the Samsung Galaxy SII, the Galaxy Tab, the Nexus 4G and others.

In a second trial a new jury would decide it Apple should be awarded more or less in damages based on their evaluation of the per-product cost of infringement for those devices.

A new trial will likely not be heard until appeals of the original ruling have run their course, MacRumors reported.

Apple is entitled to an award of almost $600 million from the part of Koh has determined should stand.

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