New Clues for Life on Mars

NASA’s Curiosity rover detected a strange burst of methane gas in the atmosphere on Mars, along with other organic chemicals in rocks on the planet’s surface. These findings are raising new questions about the planet’s habitability today as well as in the past.

Using its onboard Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) laboratory, the rover “sniffed” more than a dozen samples of the Martian atmosphere over a 20-month period. Grotzinger and his team found that methane levels shot up tenfold to an average of seven parts per billion over two months in late 2013 and early 2014, according to NASA.

The researchers aren’t sure what caused the burst, but they’ve offered two potential explanations: an interaction between water and rocks called serpentization, or methane-belching microbes. Anaerobic bacteria produce around 95 percent of the methane on Earth.

Curiosity found other organic (carbon-containing) molecules in powder collected from drilling into an ancient rock called Cumberland.

The researchers say this is the first definitive evidence of organics found on the surface of Mars. While the presence of organics doesn’t prove that life existed on ancient Mars, it suggests the planet may have had the ingredients required for life.

A paper describing the detection of methane was published online on Dec. 16 in the journal Science.

Darth Hater

Since there is apparently no justice in the world, Dick Cheney is still alive. He’s still alive and the Bush administration’s most visible and tenacious historical revisionist when it comes to the tactics employed in the Global War on Terror. For this purpose, Cheney was thawed from his cryo-chamber and wheeled out from his undisclosed location for an appearance on NBC’s Meet the Press on Sunday.

I’ve watched many of Cheney’s television interviews over the years, and this one was probably his most psychotic, mainly because he was less guarded and less political than previous spots, highlighting how dreadfully cold and unapologetically malevolent he really is. For the sake of posterity, and to make sure his backwards, immoral revisionism is squelched with full force, let’s go through the worst of the worst from Sunday’s appearance.

“We were very careful to stop short of torture.”

What Cheney is essentially saying here is that his “enhanced interrogation techniques” (EITs) were almost torture, but not quite torture. In other words, we didn’t yank out any fingernails (that we know of) or employ the “Pear of Anguish” (Google it), but forcing a detainee to stand on broken feet for hours, and shoving a tubes up a detainee’s anus and pumping food through it apparently stops short of torture in his mind. Riiiiight.

Dick Cheney, John Yoo, the Office of Legal Counsel and the other administration architects of the EIT program somehow discovered a threshold between torture and almost torture and it sounds like a completely arbitrary one. Their “almost torture” didn’t quite look like Game of Thrones torture with flaying or rats or castration, so it wasn’t quite torture.

“All of the techniques that were authorized by the president were in effect blessed by the Justice Department opinion that we could go forward with those [EITs] without in fact committing torture.”

“Our Justice Department said it was OK.” Well isn’t that fucking convenient? Also, notice that Cheney takes no responsibility for the decision while hurling Bush and the DOJ under a bus. So much for the party of personal responsibility.

Chuck Todd asks Cheney again if the rectal “feeding” meets Cheney’s definition of torture, and Cheney reiterated, “It’s what 19 guys armed with airline tickets and box cutters did to 3,000 Americans on 9/11.”

It’s difficult for me to think of a greater example of cowardice than Dick Cheney using the victims of 9/11 as human shields against accusations of war crimes.

“I believe [the rectal feeding] was done for medical reasons.”

Bullshit.

Dr. Cheney, MD claims that he read the report, but the experts cited in the report say that there wasn’t any medical necessity for rectal feeding/hydration. Not that experts are really required, you don’t need a medical degree to know that you can’t ingest food and water through your asshole.

Although given how much shit comes out of Dick Cheney’s mouth, I can understand why he might find the mechanics of the human digestive system confusing.

Chuck Todd describes how Abu Zubaydah was kept in a coffin-sized box for 266 hours, and an even smaller box (21 inches wide, 2.5 feet deep, 2.5 feet high) for 29 hours. Cheney says: “I think that in fact was one of the approved techniques.”

I don’t know about you, but to me, that sounds like torture. Zubayhad didn’t know whether he was going to be buried alive (torture) or how long he’d be confined in those boxes (also torture). That’s on top of being crammed in the box in the first place, which certainly would’ve driven me insane. Seriously. I would’ve come out of those boxes a drooling, catatonic mess.

This was approved by the Bush administration as a legitimate means of “interrogation?” I don’t care how guilty or how evil Abu Zubayhad was, America is supposed be better than the people we’re fighting against and this is exactly the kind of degenerate, medieval shit they engage in.

Chuck Todd lists the names of detainees who were tortured but were innocent, along with the man who was mistakenly detained, then “doused with water” and chained to the floor where he froze to death. This was Cheney’s immediate response: “But, uh, the problem I have is with all the folks that we did release that end up back on the battlefield.”

No problem with innocent people we detained, tortured, and in some cases murdered? Could that perhaps have something to do with released detainees being eager to join in battle against us? Also, it’s a matter of record that the Bush administration transferred/released over 500 detainees from Guantanamo. Cheney naturally didn’t mention that.

Todd notes that 25 percent of the detainees were innocent. Cheney: “I have no problem as long as we achieve our objective, and our objective is to get the guys who did 9/11 and it is to avoid another attack against the United States.”

Well if morality, international law, or innocence isn’t a problem, why don’t we kidnap the wives of world leaders and demand ransom? Or we could detain our opponents and behead them on YouTube. Or why stop at threatening to rape the family members of detainees and actually do it? Hey, as long as we’re “protecting our interests” it’s all gravy right? Screw morality. Screw the law.

“It worked. For 13 years we’ve avoided another mass casualty attack against the United States.”

Is this is because of EITs? No of course not. There’s a lengthy roster of effective reasons for the absence of another 9/11, but Dick Cheney somehow thinks that his torture program.

Dozens of expert interrogators have said torture is an ineffective means of gathering intelligence. This is mainly because torture is not a means of gathering intelligence. Historically, torture is used to force people to say what you want them to say: Admitting to being a witch, “converting” to another religion, publicly denouncing the actions of one’s own country, etc. The idea that torture provides actual intelligence is a product of TV and movies.

In short: Dick Cheney is a degenerate scumbag. To quote John Stewart, “George W. Bush, thank you for not dying while you were in office.”

Curiosity Finds Mars Crater Once Held A Massive Lake

New data from NASA’s Curiosity rover indicate the red planet’s Gale Crater once contained a massive lake and that Mount Sharp, the mountain at the center of the 96-mile-wide crater, formed from the build-up of sediment over tens of millions of years. This suggests that Mars may have been a much wetter than previously thought.

The new finding suggests that large, long-lasting lakes once dotted the Martian landscape, increasing the possibility that the planet was once habitable.

Curiosity collected the new data on its five-mile drive to Mount Sharp, the prime destination on its mission to study Mars’ climate and geography. The rover landed in Gale Crater in August 2012.

In March, scientists discovered that the crater contained beds of sandstone that were tilted south toward Mount Sharp. They believed these rocks were deposited by streams that fed into a larger body of water in the center of the crater.

After reaching Mount Sharp in September, the rover spent two months studying rocks in the Murray formation at the base of the three-mile-high mountain, discovering fine layers of mudstone–which tend to collect at the bottom of lakes.

Peep the video.

NFL Picks: Week 15

NFL2
Last Week: 11-5 (.688)

Season Total: 143-65 (.688)

Walking on a Flat Earth

Everyone knows the Earth is round–except maybe the members of the Flat Earth Society. But have you ever wondered what our planet would be like if it were more like a plate than a ball? Would things look any different for us? Would people really fall off the edge if they got too close?

For the answers to these and other questions, check out the latest episode of the Youtube series Vsauce. The video also shows what it would be like to run off the edge of Earth. While you might not die, you might get winded from the steep climb.