Decarboxylation: What It Is, & Why You Should Decarb Your Weed

Decarboxylation: What It Is, & Why You Should Decarb Your Weed

decarbing

Have you ever wondered why you need to heat cannabis to feel the psychoactive effects? In order to get high from cannabis, you need to decarboxylate it first. But, what is decarboxylation and why should you decarb your weed? We’ll walk you through everything you need to know about getting the most out of your herb. 

What is decarboxylation?

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Did you know that raw cannabis is non-psychoactive? The herb only becomes psychoactive when two things happen. First, when the bud dries and ages. Second, when the cannabis is heated. More psychoactive compounds are created by heating the plant than via ageing. In order to release the full potential of marijuana’s psychoactive effects, you must first go through a process called decarboxylation.

 

“Decarboxylation” is a long word for a simple process. To decarboxylate your herb, you just need to heat it. Applying a little heat to dried bud inspires some fascinating chemical reactions in the plant. Namely, you transform compounds called cannabinoid acids into a form that is readily usable by the body.

Cannabinoids are chemicals found in the cannabis plant that bind to cells in the body to produce effects. Sometimes decarboxylation is called “activating” or “decarbing”.

You probably have already heard that the primary psychoactive compound in cannabis is delta9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). THC is what gets you high when you smoke a little flower or eat an edible. But, you won’t find much THC on a live, growing marijuana plant, if any at all. What you find instead is another compound called THCA, which is short for tetrahydrocannabinolic acid.

THCA is not psychoactive. That’s right, this acid compound won’t get you high. In order to feel the mind-altering effects of cannabis, you need to transform THCA into psychoactive THC. So, you apply a little heat.

Each time you take a lighter to a joint or place your cannabis in the oven, you are acting the part of an amateur chemist. You are converting one compound into another. You’re turning an otherwise non-psychoactive plant into a psychoactive one. To get specific, you are removing a “carboxyl group” from the acid form of THC. Hence the term “De-carboxylation“. Without that carboxyl group, THC is able to freely bind to cell receptors in your brain and body.

Are there benefits to raw cannabis?

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If you want a high, you need to decarb first. However, there are some benefits to leaving your cannabis raw. Keep in mind that “raw” does not mean dried and cured. When you dry and cure your cannabis, a little decarboxylation happens as the herb ages.

Raw, uncured cannabis has a variety of health benefits. Cannabinoid acids are potent anti-inflammatories. The herb is also packed full of vitamins and nutrients found in other healthy greens.

To use the herb raw, you’ll need to use freshly picked buds or fan leaves. You can also store raw cannabis in the refrigerator for a day or two like you would any other leafy green herb. Though, be mindful of mould and wilting. Densely packed cannabis flowers can become mouldy quite quickly when they’re exposed to moisture. You really want to use them as quickly as possible. They also begin to lose potency and denature the longer they sit.

Many medical cannabis patients have success by simply drinking raw cannabis juices or smoothies. You can find more information on raw, dietary cannabis here.

If you’re hoping for some psychoactive edibles, however, it’s best to decarboxylate your cannabis before you begin the cooking process.

Why do I decarb before cooking?

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If you’re cooking with cannabis, it is highly recommended you decarboxylate before you begin making your edible. If you ingest cannabis and want the full psychoactive effect, you need to first decarboxylate before cooking with the herb. Activating your cannabis prior to cooking ensures that THC’s psychoactive potential is not wasted.

If you don’t decarb before cooking, you risk losing potency and are not making the most out of your cannabis.

Do I need to decarb CBD strains?

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The short answer? Yes. CBD is short for cannabidiol, another common cannabinoid found in the cannabis plant. Unlike THC, CBD is non-psychoactive. Just like THC, CBD is found in its acid form in raw cannabis. This raw form (CBDA) has health-promoting properties on its own. But, activating CBD makes it more readily available for the body to use.

To use the proper term, activated CBD is more bioavailable. This means that the compound can be put to use by your body right away. When left in its raw form, your body has to do some extra work to break down the molecule and it may use the acid form in a slightly different way.

The same goes for other cannabinoids as well. Their raw form is the acid from. To make them more bioavailable, you need to decarboxylate. Bioavailability is why you need to decarb your weed.

Temperature and terpenes

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When it comes to decarboxylating, the lower the temperature you use, the longer the decarboxylation process is it’s going to take. However, this is not a bad thing! When using a lower temperature, you to lose fewer terpenes throughout the decarboxylation process.

Have you ever wondered why buds of even the same strain can have different tastes and smells? The answer is hidden in terpenes. Simply put, terpenes are the oils that give cannabis plants and flowers their unique smell such as berry, mint, citrus, and pine. There are many medicinal benefits to terpenes; some will successfully relieve your stress while others will promote focus and awareness.

Terpenes also work in tandem with THC and other cannabinoids to amplify the medical benefits of certain strains. For example, one common terpene is linalool. Linalool is the compound that gives lavender its unique scent. Strains like L.A. Confidential and Lavender tend to have high levels of linalool. Research suggests that this may amplify the sedative effects of THC.

The max temperature for terpene expression is 310 to 400°F (154 – 204.4°C). Anything above that will burn off the terpenes, altering flavor and lessening medical effects.

How to decarb before cooking

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Decarboxylation is a super simple process. Before you throw some cannabis into your pasta sauce or some “herbal seasoning” to your next pizza, make sure you follow these easy steps:

  1. Preheat the oven to 240° F. / 115° C.
  2. Break up cannabis flowers and buds into smaller pieces with your hands. We use one ounce, but you can elect to do more or less.
  3. Put the pieces in one layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Make sure the pan is the correct size so there is not empty space on the pan.
  4. Bake the cannabis for 30 to 40 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes so that it toasts evenly.
  5. When the cannabis is darker in color, a light to medium brown, and has dried out, remove the baking sheet and allow the cannabis to cool. It should be quite crumbly when handled.
  6. In a food processor, pulse the cannabis until it is coarsely ground (you don’t want a superfine powder). Store it in an airtight container and use as needed to make extractions

Watch the video

Fortunately, we’ve created this easy step-by-step video to walk you through the decarboxylation process. It really is not complicated, and taking a little time to properly activate your herb will produce amazing results. Watch the video below to see how it’s done:

 

 

This image of Putin is illegal in Russia, so don’t distribute it. FUCK #PUTIN, and #RUSSIA

Since 2013, Russia has enforced “internet extremism” laws that forbid the dissemination of online content that the government finds offensive. Newly added to that list is an image that depicts Vladimir Putin as, in the words of the Washington Post, “a potentially gay clown.” As such, the above image is now illegal in Russia to share the above photo. It’s not illegal here, though.

This registry of “extremist materials” features the photo at number 4071, and the Post describes it thusly: “a picture of a Putin-like person ’with eyes and lips made up,’ captioned with an implicit anti-gay slur, implying ’the supposed nonstandard sexual orientation of the president of the Russian Federation.’”

Here it is again, should you need a reminder:

Do not distribute it in Russia.

CNN reports that Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said of the photo: “You know how such things might hurt somebody’s feelings, but the President is quite resistant to such obscenity and learned how to not pay attention.”

That much is obvious, what with the 15-day prison sentence and fine of 3,000 rubles that hits anyone in Russia who would venture to go so far as to even retweet the image.

The image’s origins date back to as early as 2011, though it became common among those who would protest Putin’s 2013 “gay propaganda” law, which aims to protect children from the views of those with “nontraditional sexual relations.” Protests often found those arguing in favor of gay rights to be beaten or arrested.

Of course, there are plenty of other memes out there that might offend people who can’t bear the thought of Putin being associated with “nontraditional sexual relations.” Here’s a few below:

В РФ признали экстремистским плакат с накрашенными Путиным и Медведевым http://gordonua.com/news/worldnews/v-rf-priznali-ekstremistskim-plakat-s-nakrashennymi-putinym-i-medvedevym-181824.html 

Photo published for В РФ признали экстремистским плакат с накрашенными Путиным и Медведевым

В РФ признали экстремистским плакат с накрашенными Путиным и Медведевым

Картинка, на которой были изображены люди, похожие на президента РФ Владимира Путина и премьер-министра Дмитрия…

gordonua.com

View image on Twitter

#CIA’s Big Brother: The Multi-billion Dollar #US #SpyAgency You’ve Never Heard Of.

The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency’s capability is well-equipped to quell the violence of protesters, assist ICE in their deportation corralling, and track all those who belong to minority groups – Muslims, Black Lives Matter…

If you haven’t heard of the NGA, you can be forgiven. The NGA – the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency employs over 15,000 people in its shadows. The NGA is the cutting-edge spy agency that oversees the surveillance trade.

Forget the CIA and NSA. This newish acronymic organization – taking its new existence (started as the National Photographic Interpretation Center in WWII) in 2003 – is massive. Billions are granted for budget and in 2011, its main building measured “four football fields long and covers as much ground as two aircraft carriers,” costing $1.4 billion to complete.

James Bamford reported for Foreign Policy this month how even President Obama, five months into his presidency, didn’t know of this agency.

“So, what do you [do]?” Obama asked a customer at the Five Guys hamburger restaurant in Washington in May 2009.

“I work at NGA, National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency,” he answered.

Obama, astonished, asked “So, explain to me exactly what this National Geospatial …” unable to recall the agency’s full name.

Bamford reports that “eight years after that videotape aired, the NGA remains by far the most shadowy member of the Big Five spy agencies, which include the CIA and the National Security Agency.”

BUT WHAT EXACTLY IS NGA?

In 2016, the agency purchased 99 acres in St. Louis to construct additional buildings at a cost of $1.75 billion to accommodate the growing workforce, with 3,000 employees already in the city.

“The NGA is to pictures what the NSA is to voices. Its principal function is to analyze the billions of images and miles of video captured by drones in the Middle East and spy satellites circling the globe. But because it has largely kept its ultra-high-resolution cameras pointed away from the United States, according to a variety of studies, the agency has never been involved in domestic spy scandals like its two far more famous siblings, the CIA and the NSA. However, there’s reason to believe that this will change under President Donald Trump.”

Before the name switch to NGA, the agency was largely tasked with cartography. In 2003 it was reborn for the purpose of its current mission: satellite surveillance. They work closely with the U.S. Air Force, collecting and analyzing aerial surveillance through the use of drones and other unmanned systems. They play a crucial role in gathering US intelligence, including the intelligence gathering and replication of Bin-Laden’s compound for SEAL Team Six.

“How precise were its measurements and analysis? The NGA figured out how many people lived at the compound, their gender, and even their heights,” author David Brown said.

Located at the main headquarters in Ft. Belvoir, Virginia, the NGA has two additional facilities in Missouri and St. Louis at Scott Air Force Base. Ironically, Lt. Gen. James Clapper, better known for his position as the Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence and Director of National Intelligence, arrived at NGA (then known as NIMA) only 2 days after 9/11 occurred. Clapper recalls his ‘transformative’ years with the agency:

“The events of 9/11 changed all that. It became clear to me and to the other senior leaders of NIMA that we did not have the luxury of implementing change over a prolonged period of time. We were at war and we needed to act immediately. So, we held a long weekend offsite at which we dramatically altered the organization and outlook of the Agency. In hindsight, this was exactly the right thing to do. Our nation, and our Agency, was fully engaged in a war and we had no choice but to focus on doing the best we could.” 

 

SHOULD WE BE WORRIED?

Currently, the NGA is one agency set to benefit under the requested $70.3 billion laid out for the 2017 US Intelligence Community Budget. The Trump administration is set to bolster the amount, taking the total amount for the Pentagon’s 2017 fiscal budget to a whopping $541 billion. (The NGA falls under the Pentagon category as a “highly-classified Pentagon intelligence agency.”)

This leads to the worrying observation that the NGA may soon be granted more authority. The aerial system used against Iraq and Afghanistan may soon be used against the American people, Bamford reports:

“With the capability to watch an area of 10 or even 15 square miles at a time, it would take just two drones hovering over Manhattan to continuously observe and follow all outdoor human activity, night and day. It can zoom in on an object as small as a stick of butter on a plate and store up to 1 million terabytes of data a day. That capacity would allow analysts to look back in time over days, weeks, or months. Technology is in the works to enable drones to remain aloft for years at a time.”

The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency’s capability is well-equipped to quell the violence of protesters, assist ICE in their deportation corralling, and track all those who belong to minority groups – Muslims, Black Lives Matter… It isn’t farfetched, Bamford says. The CIA and NSA’s evil brother is more than capable of assisting the Trump administration in their quest, and the lack of domestic overhead spying legislation that currently stands allows for just that.

Here’s how a preemptive strike on North Korea would go down

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson made it official on Friday: The US is considering a preemptive military strike on North Korea. Recent missile tests show that North Korea really is practicing a so-called saturation attack that would seek to fire ballistic missiles with such volume that they defeat missile defenses and slaughter US and allied forces in Japan and South Korea.

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US President Donald Trump has apparently identified North Korea as his most serious external challenge, and he has reportedly declared the country the single greatest threat to the US. On Friday, Trump tweeted: “North Korea is behaving very badly. They have been ‘playing’ the United States for years.” He also blamed China, the North’s biggest ally, for not doing more to help.

In reality, taking out North Korea’s nuclear capabilities, or toppling the Kim regime, would pose serious risks to even the US military’s best platforms.

Business Insider spoke with Stratfor‘s Sim Tack, a senior analyst who is an expert on North Korea, to determine exactly how the US could carry out a crippling strike against the Hermit Kingdom.


First, a decision would need to be made.

 

Military action against North Korea wouldn’t be pretty. Civilians in South Korea, and possibly Japan, and US forces stationed in the Pacific would be likely to die in the undertaking no matter how smoothly things went.

In short, it’s not a decision any US commander in chief would make lightly.

But the US would have to choose between a full-scale destruction of North Korea’s nuclear facilities and ground forces or a quicker attack on only the most important nuclear facilities. The second option would focus more on crippling North Korea’s nuclear program and destroying key threats to the US and its allies.

Since a full-scale attack could lead to “mission creep that could pull the US into a longterm conflict in East Asia,” according to Tack of Stratfor, the US would most likely focus on a quick, surgical strike that would wipe out the bulk of North Korea’s nuclear forces.


Then, the opening salvo: A stealth air blitz and cruise missiles rock North Korea’s nuclear facilities.

 

The best tools the US could use against North Korea would be stealth aircraft like the F-22 and the B-2 bomber, Tack said.

The US would slowly but surely position submarines, Navy ships, and stealth aircraft at bases near North Korea in ways that avoid provoking the Hermit Kingdom’s suspicions.

Then, when the time was right, bombers would rip across the sky and ships would let loose with an awesome volley of firepower. The US already has considerable combat capability amassed in the region.

“Suddenly you’d read on the news that the US has conducted these airstrikes,” Tack said.

While the F-22 and the F-35 would certainly operate over North Korean missile-production sites, it really is a job for the B-2.

As a long-range stealth bomber with a huge ordnance capacity, the B-2 could drop 30,000-pound bombs on deep underground bunkers in North Korea – and they could do it from as far away as Guam or the continental US.


The first targets …

 

Foto: source Flickr/US Air Force

The initial targets would include nuclear reactors, missile-production facilities, and launching pads for intercontinental ballistic missiles, Tack said.

Cruise missiles would pour in from the sea, F-22s would target North Korea’s rudimentary air defenses, and B-2s would pound every known missile site.

Planes like the F-35 and the F-22 would frantically hunt down mobile missile launchers, which can hide all over North Korea’s mountainous terrain. In the event that North Korea does get off a missile, the US and South Korea have layered missile defenses that would attempt to shoot it out of the sky.


Next, the US would try to limit North Korean retaliation.

 

Once the US has committed the initial strike against North Korea, how does Kim Jong Un respond?

Even with its nuclear facilities in ashes and most of its command and control destroyed, “North Korea has a lot of options,” Tack said. “They have their massive, massive conventional artillery options that can start firing at South Korea in a split second.”

But as the graphic below shows, most North Korean artillery can’t reach Seoul, the South Korean capital.

Additionally, Seoul has significant underground bunkers and infrastructure to quickly shield its citizens, though some measure of damage to the city would be unavoidable.

North Korea artillery

Foto:

According to Tack, much of this artillery would instead fire on the demilitarized zone between the two Koreas, detonating mines so North Korean ground forces could push through. Also within range would be US forces near the DMZ.

Some 25,000 American troops are stationed in South Korea, and they would face grave danger from North Korea’s vast artillery installations.

But the North Korean artillery isn’t top of the line. It could focus on slamming US forces, or it could focus on hitting Seoul, but splitting fire between the two targets would limit the impact of its longer-range systems.

Additionally, as the artillery starts to fire, it becomes an exposed target for US aircraft.


The next phase of the battle would be underwater.

 

North Korea has a submarine that can launch nuclear ballistic missiles, which would represent a big risk to US forces as it can sail outside the range of established missile defenses.

Fortunately for the US, the best submarine hunters in the world sail with the US Navy.

Helicopters would drop special listening buoys, destroyers would use their advanced radars, and US subs would listen for anything unusual in the deep. North Korea’s antique submarine would hardly be a match for the combined efforts of the US, South Korea, and Japan.

While the submarine would greatly complicate the operation, it would most likely find itself at the bottom of the ocean before it could do any meaningful damage.


What happens if Kim Jong Un is killed?

 

“Decapitation,” or the removal of the Kim regime, would be a huge blow to the fiercely autocratic Hermit Kingdom.

Kim Jong Un has reportedly engaged in a vicious campaign to execute senior officials with packs of dogs, mortar fire, and antiaircraft guns for a simple reason, according to Tack: They have ties to China.

Kim’s removal of anyone senior with ties to China means he has consolidated power within his country to a degree that makes him necessary to the country’s functioning.

Without a leader, North Korean forces would face a severe blow to their morale as well as their command structure, but it wouldn’t end the fight.

“Technically North Korea is under the rule of their ‘forever leader’ Kim Il Sung,” Tack said, adding that “a decapitation strike wouldn’t guarantee that the structures below him wouldn’t fall apart, but it would be a damn tricky problem for those that remain after him.”

North Koreans aren’t shy about putting their leader first, however, and at the first indication of an attack, Kim would most likely be tucked away in a bunker deep underground during the attack.


Then the US defends.

 

“If North Korea doesn’t retaliate, they’ve lost capability and look weak,” Tack said.

Indeed, few would expect North Korea to go quietly after suffering even a crippling attack.

Through massive tunnels bored under the DMZ, North Korea would try to pour ground troops into the South.

“The ground-warfare element is a big part of this,” Tack said. “I think that the most likely way that would play out would be the fight in the DMZ area,” where the US would not try to invade North Korea but rather would defend its position in the South.

Though North Korea’s air force is small and outdated, it jets would need to be a target of the US and allied forces.


Meanwhile …

 

US special operations forces, after North Korea’s air defenses have been destroyed, would parachute in with the goal of destroying or deactivating mobile launchers and other offensive equipment.

The US would face a big challenge in trying to hunt down some 200 missile launchers throughout North Korea, some of which have treads to enter very difficult terrain where US recon planes would struggle to spot them.

It would be the work of US special forces to establish themselves at key logistical junctures, observe the North Koreans’ movements, and then relay that to US air assets.


So how does this all end?

 

North Korea is neither a house of cards nor an impenetrable fortress.

Additionally, the resolve of the North Koreans remains a mystery. North Korea successfully estimated that the international community would be unwilling to intervene as it quietly became a nuclear power, but that calculation could become its undoing.

North Korea would most likely launch cyberattacks, possibly shutting down parts of the US or allies’ power grids, but US Cyber Command would prepare for that.

North Korea would most likely destroy some US military installations, lay waste to some small portion of Seoul, and get a handful of missiles fired – but again, US and allied planners would stand ready for that.

In the end, it would be a brutal, bloody conflict, but Tack said even the propaganda-saturated North Koreans must be aware of their disadvantages.

Even after a devastating missile attack, some of North Korea’s nuclear stockpile would most likely remain hidden. Some element of the remaining North Korean forces could stage a retaliation, but what would be the point?

“If they chose to go the route of conducting a large-scale retaliation, they’re inviting a continuation of the conflict that eventually they cannot win … Nobody in this whole game is going to believe that North Korea can win a war against the US, South Korea, and Japan,” Tack concluded.

If A Nuclear Bomb Is Dropped On Your City, Here’s Where You Should Run And Hide

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  • People who survive a nuclear blast may be exposed to radioactive ash and dust called fallout.
  • Finding a good shelter as soon as possible and going inside is critical to surviving fallout.
  • A scientist has come up with a strategy for when and whether to move to a better fallout shelter.

President Trump has egged on a new arms race. Russia violated weapons treaties to upgrade its nuclear arsenal. North Korea is developing long-range missiles and practicing for nuclear war — and the US military is considering preemptive attacks on the isolated nation’s military facilities.

Meanwhile, nuclear terrorism and dirty bombs remain a sobering threat.

Though these events are unlikely to trigger the last-ditch option of nuclear war, let alone a blast in your neighborhood, they are very concerning.

So you might be wondering, “If I survive a nuclear-bomb attack, what should I do?”

Michael Dillon, a Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory researcher, crunched the numbers and helped figure out just that in a 2014 study published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society A: Mathematical and Physical Sciences.

Likewise, government agencies and other organizations have also explored the harrowing question and came up with detailed recommendations and response plans.

The scenario

New York

TTstudio/Shutterstock

You are in a large city that has just been subjected to a single, low-yield nuclear detonation, between 0.1 and 10 kilotons.

This is much less powerful than the bomb dropped on Hiroshima — about 15 kilotons. However, it’s not unlikely when looking at weapons like the new B61-12 gravity bomb, which is built by the US, maxes out at 50 kilotons, and can be dialed down to 0.3 kilotons. (Russia and Pakistan are working on similar so-called “tactical” nuclear weapons.)

Studieshave shown that you and up to 100,000 of your fellow citizens can be saved — that is, if you keep your wits about and radiation exposure low enough.

One of your biggest and most immediate goals is to avoid nuclear fallout.

How to avoid fallout radiation

Fallout is a mess of bomb material, soil, and debris that is vaporized, made radioactive, and sprinkled as dust and ash across the landscape by prevailing winds. (In New York City, for example, a fallout zone would spread eastward.)

radioactive fallout zones

FEMA

The best thing to do is to find a good place to hide — the more dense material between you and the outside world, the better — then wait until the rescuers can make their way to help you.

The US government recommends hiding in a nearby building, but not all of them provide much shelter from nuclear fallout.

Poor shelters, which include about 20% of houses, are constructed of lightweight materials and lack basements. The best shelters are thick brick or concrete and lack windows. Like a bomb shelter.

This infographic from a government guide to the aftermath of nuclear attacks gives a rough idea on what makes a building a good or bad place to hide from fallout:

nuclear fallout shelter protection

Levels of protection from radiation that various buildings and locations offer. Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory/FEMA

Hiding in the sub-basement of a brick five-story apartment building, for example, should expose you to just 1/200 of the amount of fallout radiation outside.

Meanwhile, hanging out in the living room of your one-story, wood-frame house will only cut down the radiation by half, which — if you are next to a nuclear explosion — will not do much to help you.

So, what do you do if there isn’t a good shelter right near you? Should you stay in a “poor” shelter, or risk exposure to find a better one? And how long should you wait?

Should you stay or should you go?

nuclear fallout escape dillon prsa

M.B. Dillon/Proceedings of the Royal Society A: Mathematical and Physical Sciences

In his 2014 study, Dillon developed models to determine your best options. While the answer depends on how far away you are from the blast, since that will determine when the fallout arrives, there are some general rules to follow.

If you are immediately next to or in a solid shelter when the bomb goes off, stay there until the rescuers come to evacuate you to less radioactive vistas.

If you aren’t already in a bomb shelter, but know a good shelter is about five minutes away — maybe a large apartment building with a basement that you can see a few blocks away — his calculations suggest hoofing it over there quickly and staying in place.

But if the nice, thick-walled building would take about 15 minutes travel time, it’s better to hole up in the flimsy shelter for awhile — but you should probably leave for a better shelter after roughly an hour (and maybe pick up some beers and sodas on the way: A study in the ’50s found they taste fine after a blast).

This is because some of the most intense fallout radiation has subsided by then, though you still want to reduce your exposure.

Other fallout advice

Below are some other guidelines that Dillon compiled from other studies and are based on how decent your first and second shelters are:ideal shelter nuclear fallout moving times dillon prsa

M.B. Dillon/Proceedings of the Royal Society A: Mathematical and Physical Sciences

One of the big advantages of the approach that this paper uses is that, to decide on a strategy, evacuation officials need to consider only the radiation levels near shelters and along evacuation routes — the overall pattern of the radioactive death-cloud does not factor into the models. This means decisions can be made quickly and without much communication or central organization (which may be spare in the minutes and hours after a blast).

 

Russia court to consider Jehovah’s Witnesses ban! About Time!

A young woman from the Jehovah's Witnesses is baptised on 20 July 2003 in Prague

Russia’s justice ministry has called for a ban on the Jehovah’s Witnesses, a Christian movement that zealously seeks converts and rejects military service.

The ministry has asked Russia’s supreme court to close the group’s headquarters and stop its 175,000 Russian members sharing “extremist” literature.

A spokesman for the group called the proposed ban “persecuting worshippers just for manifesting their faith”.

Some Russian regions have already shut down branches of Jehovah’s Witnesses.

According to the justice ministry, the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ activities “violate Russia’s law on combating extremism”.

The authorities object to pamphlets deemed to incite hatred against other religious groups, mainly for proclaiming Jehovah’s Witnesses as followers of the only “true” faith.

One quotes the novelist Leo Tolstoy, describing the doctrine of the Russian Orthodox Church as superstition and sorcery, the BBC’s Sarah Rainsford reports from Moscow.

The group was registered in Russia in 1991.

Thousands of Jehovah’s Witnesses were deported to Siberia during Joseph Stalin’s 30-year reign of terror. Other Christian groups were also persecuted at the time.

40 Chilling Facts About The Titanic You Wouldn’t Fathom

History.com

The Titanic was a feat of engineering unlike anything the world had ever seen. It was considered unsinkable and was an incredibly sought after cruise liner. The ship was a British passenger liner that started her maiden voyage in Southampton and was headed to New York City. This was the second of three Olympic class liners which was operated by the White Star Line.

Built by the Harland and Wolff shipyard in Belfast, it was looked at as the flagship of the fleet. The architect of the Titanic, Thomas Andrews died during the sinking of the ship on April, 15th 1912. After the collision with the iceberg, the death-toll was one of the deadliest in modern peacetime maritime history. Of the approximately 2,224 passengers and crew aboard, somewhere around 1,500 died. There is much debate about the actual numbers, but most come in somewhere between 1,497 and 1,517 that did not survive the sinking.

This was not because of the ships lack of safety features. In fact, it had some of the most advanced safety features of all ships. These included watertight compartments and remotely activated watertight doors. The issue was that the outdated maritime safety regulations only required enough lifeboats to carry about half the number aboard.

The Titanic took 2 hours and 40 minutes from collision to sinking. As an unsinkable ship, this was a shock to the world and the following facts talk about the people, the experience and even some facts that are nothing more than shocking.

The question, though, is how did we become so arrogant? Why do we feel that we can create things that are claimed to be immune to the laws of nature? We live on this world and we have to play by its rules. There is never a surefire thing. The Titanic is proof of that. While the disaster could have been mitigated or even prevented as you will learn in the following pages, the fact that we were so sure that we could create something that could not be destroyed by nature was what doomed the ship from the start.

This story, as heartbreaking and fascinating as it is, is a story that can be learned from. The individuals that boarded this ship expected nothing but luxury and safety. Much like when we leave our house each day we expect to make it home that night without issue. The true lesson of the Titanic is that we can not take any one moment for granted. They are all just moments away from our last. Those moments may be decades from now or minutes from now. There is no way to tell. Remember that we are just a speck of dust in this universe and our time is short, so we have to enjoy it and understand that we have no control over what the world will throw at us. That is to say, live every moment as if it were your last.

40. That Is Some Anchor

Via NPVM.org.uk

Via NPVM.org.uk

The main anchor for the Titanic was so large and heavy that it required 20 horses to pull it. These aren’t just any horses either, they were Clydesdales. The procession that followed the anchor started towards Dudley Railway Station on April the 30th of 1911. From there, the anchors and chains would travel via rail to Fleetwood, located in Lancashire. It was late afternoon when the anchors arrived. It took some time after that, until May, for the anchor to arrive at the Titanic. The center anchor was the largest anchor ever hand-forged at the time.

 

39. Accepting Fate

Via Alchetron

Via Alchetron

Benjamin Guggenheim was an American businessman that died during the sinking of the Titanic. He was both an American and German citizen. After his father died, he inherited a great deal of money, which seems to have allowed him to launch his own career. He boarded the Titanic with his mistress, his valet (Victor Giglio), and a few others. When helping two of his party onto Lifeboat No. 9 he spoke to his maid in German, saying, “We will soon see each other again! It’s just a repair. Tomorrow the Titanic will go on again.”

He knew better, though, to what his fate was at this point. He and Giglio returned to his cabin to change into formal evening wear.  He was heard to say, “We’ve dressed up in our best and are prepared to go down like gentlemen.” The last anyone saw of Guggenheim and Giglio was of the two sitting on deck chairs in the foyer of the Grand Staircase. There they sipped brandy and smoked cigars as they awaited their fate.

Trump wings it on Middle East peace

If he wants a regional deal, there has been one on offer for 15 years

 

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The casual way Donald Trump set aside two decades of US and international policy on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, as so often with this president, raised more questions than it answers. His announcement he was “looking at two-state and one-state” solutions startled even Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s prime minister and a fan.

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Mr Trump spoke of a “much bigger deal” that could “take in many countries and would cover a much larger territory”, suggesting he wants a region-wide formula to replace the quest for two states. Talks to end Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and Arab East Jerusalem, captured in the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, and create an independent Palestine living alongside a secure Israel, have so often tantalised only to disappoint. The Trump White House is now floating a so-called “outside-in” solution. Instead of “inside-out” — whereby Israel reaches a deal with the Palestinians as the precondition and springboard to peace with all Arab states — the idea appears to be to build an alliance between Israel and Sunni Arab nations against Iran. This would be used as leverage to settle the Palestinian question. If only it were that simple. Mr Trump seems to believe this has never been considered, and that he has hit on an almost Copernican change. There is, of course, a need to involve the leading Arab states, and bring a desperately needed element of stability to a region in flames. That is different to pushing for a single state. There is nothing to object to about a single state in which Israelis and Palestinians enjoy equal and democratic rights, secure land ownership, and a high degree of autonomy under some confederal pact. Lots of Palestinians, fed up with the corruption and fecklessness of their leadership, would jump at it. But there is no conceivable coalition in Israel remotely interested in such a deal. Mainstream Israelis fear Jews will be outnumbered by Arabs in the cramped space between the Jordan river and the Mediterranean, where the two populations are now almost equal at about 6.3m each. Yet this is happening in lieu of a two-state solution that would allow Israel to remain predominantly Jewish and democratic. The de facto single entity disfigured by the occupation is a demographic time-bomb that erodes Israel’s legitimacy. It is bad enough that Mr Netanyahu’s government is deepening the occupation with a big new push to settle more Jews on Arab land. His far right cabinet colleagues want to use the US policy shake-up to pre-empt the outcome, annexing swaths of the West Bank. Some exponents of this Greater Israel talk of somehow unloading the Palestinian populations of Gaza and the West Bank on Egypt and Jordan. The right regional approach would be to revive the Arab peace plan, on the table since 2002, which offers Israel peace and normal relations in exchange for its withdrawal from all Arab land captured in 1967, and the creation of a sovereign Palestine on the West Bank and Gaza, with East Jerusalem as its capital. Israel has never wanted to discuss this. But now it has much more in common with the Arabs — provided it commits to a just solution for Palestinians. Abandoning a two-state framework permits deeper Israeli colonisation and subjugation of the Palestinians, leading to one state by default, but with first and second-class citizens. That will leach away at Israel’s international legitimacy, boost the campaign to boycott the Jewish state and provide a new spur to extremism in a region where fanatics are plentiful. That would not be the “really a great peace deal” vaunted by Mr Trump — for anybody.

 

Iraq Starts Offensive to Retake Western Mosul From ISIS

Iraqi forces advanced toward western Mosul on Sunday. CreditKhalid Al-Mousily/Reuters

 

 

ERBIL, Iraq — Iraq opened the next chapter in its offensive to drive the Islamic State out of Mosul on Sunday, preparing an assault on the western half of the city. Overnight, planes carpeted the ground with leaflets, directly appealing to the group’s fighters to surrender.

“To those of you who were intrigued by the ISIS ideology,” one of the leaflets said, “this is your last opportunity to quit your work with ISIS and to leave those foreigners who are in your homeland. Stay at home, raising the white flags as the forces approach.”

On state-run television, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi of Iraq announced the beginning of the offensive, describing it as “a new dawn” and calling on his troops “to move bravely forward to liberate what is left of the city.”

The assault is taking place amid new concerns about the condition of hundreds of thousands of civilians still trapped in the western part of the city. Food, water and cooking fuel have all been reported to be in short supply, and residents have described increased harassment from Islamic State fighters preparing for the attack.

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The overall push to free Mosul, once Iraq’s second-largest city, began in October, with local troops pushing from the east into the city’s geographically larger but more sparsely populated eastern half. In late January, they reached the banks of the Tigris River, which bisects Mosul, and declared the city’s eastern section liberated.

The operation took longer than expected and took a high toll on civilians and the Iraqi forces, but much of the city’s infrastructure was preserved and a sense of daily life has returned. That is in contrast to the operations to take back other cities from the Islamic State, including Ramadi and Sinjar, which were laid waste by airstrikes. More than a year since Sinjar was freed, even its mayor has not been able to return.

The fight for Mosul’s western half could be even more protracted than for its east. The west is home to neighborhoods of narrow streets, some so small that it will not be possible for Iraqi troops to enter in their fortified Humvees. That may make the Islamic State’s signature suicide bomb attacks even more effective.

Because all five of the bridges spanning the Tigris have been bombed, Iraqi troops will trace a circuitous path to western Mosul, initially approaching it from the city’s south.

Officials said the first objective would be Mosul International Airport, just south of the city. By midday on Sunday, Iraqi forces had captured a string of nearby villages, advancing within six miles of the airfield, officers from the troops said.

American forces are supporting the operation. “The U.S. forces continue in the same role as they did in East Mosul,” Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told reporters traveling with him on Sunday, adding that the rules of engagement for American troops in Iraq had not changed: “We are very close to, if not already engaged in, that fight.”

He said that the American-backed coalition fighting the Islamic State would “continue with the accelerated effort to destroy” the group.

Anticipating the offensive, the Islamic State damaged the Mosul airport, carving wide trenches onto the runways and adjacent taxiways and aprons, leaving no paved portion of the airport usable by aircraft, according to an analysis of satellite imagery by Stratfor, a global intelligence company.

While the airport may be unusable, taking it would be a milestone for the offensive, as would taking the adjacent hilltop village of Abu Saif, which sits at a higher elevation than Mosul. Because of the Islamic State’s heavy use of snipers, securing high ground is crucial, and Iraqi forces were nearing the base of the hill by Sunday afternoon.

The troops’ push into western Mosul will be further complicated by the Islamic State’s vast network of tunnels throughout the city, allowing fighters to hide from overhead surveillance. And the group is also increasingly using armed drones, allowing them to spot and remotely bomb advancing Iraqi troops.

Yahya Salah, whose neighborhood in eastern Mosul was liberated in November, described how Iraqi troops were just streets away when Islamic State fighters forced their way into his home, armed with a jackhammer. They herded Mr. Salah’s family into one of the bedrooms. From behind the closed door, Mr. Salah said, he then heard a deafening sound and realized the fighters were drilling a hole.

“They worked without stopping — when one got tired, another took over, and they dug a hole that was 1.5 meters wide,” said Mr. Salah, who said his family was locked in the bedroom for three days. “When we said we were thirsty, they threw water bottles at us,” he said.

He said the fighters had left at noon on the final day. The Iraqi Army arrived at sunset, unlocking the door. When the family stepped into the rest of their house, they found ceiling-high piles of dirt in three of their four bedrooms and a hole in the living room floor. The tunnel the fighters had dug stretched for dozens of yards, allowing the terrorist group’s foot soldiers to slip away.

Residents have shown reporters similar tunnels throughout the eastern part of the city, and officials expect the same in western Mosul. A photo essay published this weekend by the Islamic State titled “Life of Fighters South of Mosul” shows their soldiers cooking a meal on a kerosene stove, reading the Quran and praying inside a tunnel wide enough for five men to stand side by side.

At the same time, the Islamic State has become better at the use of small drones, which are available off-the-shelf in malls across the region, including in Erbil, the nearest major city to Mosul. They use the drones to pinpoint army positions and to target them, and recently recovered Islamic State documents show how the group has cobbled together its own drone program. Iraqi forces describe how they frequently see the twoto-four-foot-long aircraft overhead, whining like a lawn mower. Then 30 minutes later, they will take incoming fire at that location.

“Mosul would be a tough fight for any army in the world, and the Iraqi forces have risen to the challenge,” Lt. Gen. Stephen Townsend, the commander of the American-led effort against the Islamic State, said in a news release from United States Central Command announcing the beginning of the operation. Some of the 450 American advisers on the ground in Iraq are helping Iraqi officers plan and execute the offensive.

Reached by telephone, residents in western Mosul described the elation they felt at the approach of government troops. “All we have left to eat is tomato paste. We are eating it with salt,” said Umm Anwar, 41, who asked to be identified only by her nickname. “We are ready to kill ISIS ourselves with knives, or by biting them, because we are in so much pain.”

Astronomers Snap Supernova’s Baby Pictures

Images of an exploding dying star taken just a few hours after its detonation are revealing new details of stellar death

 

Supernova remnants—like this one first observed more than 400 years ago—are typically only noticed by Earthbound researchers well after the initial explosion of the progenitor star. Now, astronomers have caught and closely studied a supernova when it was merely a few hours old. Credit: NASA, CXC, SAO

Baby pictures of a newborn supernova have captured this stellar explosion after the first half-dozen hours of its life, shedding light on how these giant explosions happen, a new study finds.

This newly discovered cosmic baby is the type of supernova that occurs when a giant star runs out of fuel and explodes. Supernovas are so bright that they can briefly outshine all of the other stars in their home galaxy.

Astronomers have previously seen glimpses of supernovas within the first minutes after they explode. However, until now, researchers had not captured light from a newborn supernova across the so many wavelengths—including radio waves, visible light and X-rays. The new images add to evidence that suggests that these dying stars may signal their upcoming demise by spewing a disk of material in the months before their deaths, according to a paper describing the finding. [Know Your Novas: Star Explosions Explained (Infographic)]

Much remains unknown about how and why dying stars can detonate with such violence. Studying the final years of a star that is destined to die as a supernova could reveal key details about the way in which these explosions happen, but stars in these brief, final stages are rare—statistically, it is very likely that none of the 100 billion to 400 billion stars in the Milky Way galaxyare within one year of dying as a supernova, according to the new paper.

Now scientists report the discovery of a supernova just 3 hours after it exploded, helping them capture “the earliest spectra ever taken of a supernova explosion,” said study lead author Ofer Yaron, an astrophysicist at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel. A light spectrum is essentially detailed look at the wavelengths of light emitted by an object. Because chemical elements can absorb certain wavelengths, stellar spectra can be used to reveal the composition of a star.

“Until several years ago, catching a supernova a week after explosion was regarded as early,” Yaron told Space.com. “This is not the case anymore.”

A SUPERNOVA IS BORN

The astronomers detected the supernova known as SN 2013fs on Oct. 6, 2013, using the data from the Intermediate Palomar Transient Factory (iPTF) based at the Palomar Observatory in California. Its star was likely a red supergiant about 10 to 17 times heavier than the sun and several hundred times wider than the sun, Yaron said.

The supernova detonated about 160 million light-years away in a spiral galaxy called NGC 7610. This galaxy is relatively close to the Milky Way, making it easier for scientists to aim more telescopes at it and detect signals from it that span almost the entire the spectrum of light, from radio waves to X-rays. Observations of the supernova were made with telescopes at the Keck Observatory in Hawaii and NASA’s Swift satellite starting about 6 hours after the explosion, Yaron explained.

SN 2013fs was the most common variety of supernova: a Type II. This kind of supernova happens when the core of a massive star runs out of fuel, collapses to an extraordinarily dense nugget in a fraction of a second and then bounces and blasts its material outward.

The astronomers captured pictures of the newborn supernova early enough to spot a disk of matter the star expelled just before its demise. Normally supernovas are seen after the shockwave from the explosions have swept away such material and any secrets that the disk might have contained.

The researchers found that a year or so before this star died, it rapidly spewed out vast amounts of material, equal to about one-thousandth of the sun’s mass, at speeds of nearly 224,000 mph (360,000 km/h). Previous research had seen cases where such early eruptions occurred among unusual subgroups of Type II supernovas, but these new findings suggest that such outpourings also precede more common kinds of Type II supernovas.

“It’s as if the star ‘knows’ its life is ending soon, and puffing material at an enhanced rate during its final breaths,” Yaron told Space.com. “Think of a volcano or geyser bubbling before an eruption.”

These findings suggest that a star may be unstable months before its turns into a Type II supernova. As such, “the structure of the star when it explodes may be different than that assumed so far,” Yaron said. For instance, the core of a star may experience upheavals during its final days, causing strong winds to travel from the depths of the star all the way to its surface and beyond.

New, automated surveys of the sky such as the iPTF have begun capturing supernovas a day or less after they explode.

“With the help of new sky surveys coming up in the very near future, we expect to significantly increase the number of supernova events for which we are able to obtain early observations within hours and maybe minutes from explosion,” Yaron said.

The scientists detailed their findings online Feb. 13 in the journal Nature Physics.

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