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"From 2006 to 2012, a white police officer killed a black person at least twice a week in this country." - MHP

Melissa Harris-Perry gives a heart-wrenching tribute to the deaths of black men that have occurred at the hands of police in the past decade.

(via humanrightswatch)


Geometrical Geology | Mario Gutiérrez Photographer

A flysch is a sequence of sedimentary rocks that is deposited in a deep marine facies in the foreland basin of a developing orogen. Flysch is typically deposited during an early stage of the orogenesis. When the orogen evolves the foreland basin becomes shallower and molasse is deposited on top of the flysch. It is therefore called a syn-orogenic sediment (deposited contemporaneously with mountain building).


In the town of Zumaia along the Basque coast, northern Spain, are two beaches that contain a geologic treasure that contains millions of years of the Earth’s history.

The Itzurun and Santiago beaches are hotspots for geologists because it houses one of the longest continuous rock strata in the world called a ‘flysch.” This flysch in Zumaia was found to have formed over a period of over 100 million years by the crashing of the waves against the cliffs. The result is an abrasion platform with alternate hard layers (limestone and sandstone) and soft layers (clay and loam). The flysch extends eastward and westward from Zumaia, stretching a total of 8 kilometers to the towns of Deba and Getaria.

Apart from the impressive rock formations, Zumaia also harbors important fossil evidences. The Cretaceous-Paleogene boundary, a rock layer that marks the end of the Mesozoic era and the extinction of non-avian dinosaurs, is found in Itzurun beach. Fossils of ammonites, ancient molluscs resemblant of the nautilus, are also found in the rock layer.

[Read more]

(via geologychronicles)


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This Week in War. A Friday round-up of what happened and what’s been written in the world of war and military/security affairs this week. It’s a mix of news reports, policy briefs, blog posts and longform journalism. Subscribe here to receive this round-up by email.

Photo: Shejaiya neighborhood, Gaza City. A man enters his shattered home on a mostly destroyed street. August 7. Roberto Schmidt/AFP/Getty

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(via humanrightswatch)


Tokamaks: the future of fusion energy

Fusion is the energy that powers our Sun and other stars.  It has been a goal of scientists around the world to harness this process by which the stars “burn” hydrogen into helium (i.e. nuclear fusion) for energy production on Earth since it was discovered in the 1940′s.

Nuclear fusion is the process by which light nuclei fuse together to create a single, heavier nucleus and release energy.  Given the correct conditions (such as those found in plasma), nuclei of light elements can smash into each other with enough energy to undergo fusion. The “easiest” (most energetically favorable) fusion reaction occurs between the hydrogen isotopes deuterium and tritium.  When the nucleus of a deuterium atom crashes into the nucleus of a tritium atom with sufficient energy, a fusion reaction occurs and a huge amount of energy is released, 17.6 million electron volts to be exact. 

Why fusion? To put this in terms of energy that we all experience; fusion generates more energy per reaction than any other energy source.  A single gram of deuterium/tritium fusion fuel can generate 350 million kJ of energy, nearly 10 million times more energy than from the same amount of fossil fuel!

Fusion power has the potential to provide sufficient energy to satisfy mounting demand, and to do so sustainably, with a relatively small impact on the environment. Nuclear fusion has many potential attractions. Firstly, its hydrogen isotope fuels are relatively abundant – one of the necessary isotopes, deuterium, can be extracted from seawater, while the other fuel, tritium, would be bred from a lithium blanket using neutrons produced in the fusion reaction itself. Furthermore, a fusion reactor would produce virtually no CO2 or atmospheric pollutants, and its other radioactive waste products would be very short-lived compared to those produced by conventional nuclear reactors.

Fusion reactions require so much energy that they must occur with the hydrogen isotopes in this plasma state. Plasma makes up all of the stars, and is the most common form of matter in the visible universe. Since plasmas are made of charged particles every particle can interact with every other particle, even over very long distances. The fact that 99% of the universe is made of plasmas makes studying them very important if we are to understand how the universe works.

How do we create fusion in a laboratory? This is where tokamaks come in. In order for nuclear fusion to occur, the nuclei inside of the plasma must first be extremely hot, like in a star. Unfortunately, no material on Earth can withstand these temperatures so in order to contain a plasma with such high temperatures, we have to be creative. One clever solution is to create a magnetic “bottle” using large magnet coils to capture the plasma and suspend it away from the container’s surfaces. The plasma follows along the magnetic field, suspended away from the walls. This complex combination of magnets used to confine the plasma and the chamber where the plasma is held is known as a tokamak. Tokamaks have a toroidal shape (i.e. they are shaped like a donut) so they have no open ends for plasma to escape. Tokamaks, like the ASDEX Upgrade (pictured above), create and contain the hottest materials in the solar system. The aim of ASDEX Upgrade, the “Axially Symmetric Divertor Experiment”, is to prepare the physics base for ITER.

ITER (International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor and Latin for “the way” or “the road”) is an international nuclear fusion research and engineering project, which is currently building the world’s largest experimental tokamak nuclear fusion reactor. The ITER project aims to make the long-awaited transition from experimental studies of plasma physics to full-scale electricity-producing fusion power plants.

Further readings:

(via likeaphysicist)