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Favorite Links Friday Week of August 19, 2016

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Winter ferry schedule better than last year

This winter’s Alaska Marine Highway schedule offers more sailings than the previous season’s. It also eliminates five-week service gaps for some communities.

The schedule, released Aug. 17, shows a 6 percent increase in sailings. That’s the difference between last season’s 166 weeks and this season’s 176.

Ferry system spokesman Jeremy Woodrow says one fewer ship will be down for major repairs at a key time of year.

“Last year, the Columbia went in for a major capital improvement project where it was out for the entire winter schedule. And this year the Columbia will be providing service through October and the first half of November, as well as the second half of April this year,” he said. [Full Source]


El Nino is out. Will La Nina follow?

Brian Brettschneider is a climatologist in Anchorage who closely tracks Alaska climate data and trends. Alaska’s Energy Desk is checking in with him regularly as part of a new segment- Ask a Climatologist.

He says both El Nino and La Nina can have a significant impact on winter temperatures in Alaska, but if this La Nina materializes it may be a different story

Brian: We’ve just come out of one of the strongest El Nino’s on record and that’s officially been declared over. And that’s reflected by sea surface temperatures in the central tropical pacific. Those are now below normal. If they stay below normal for an extended period of time we would then call that La Nina. There’s currently a 60% chance, is the latest forecast, that we would enter into an official La Nina.

Annie: What does it mean to be in a La Nina for Alaska?

Brian: If there’s a strong La Nina, Alaska typically experiences cooler temperatures, cooler with respect to normal. If there’s a weak La Nina, that relationship is much less pronounced. But if it is a weak La Nina, we might expect cooler temperatures but there’s so much warmth stored in the North Pacific ocean it’s going to be really hard to dissipate that warmth, so I’d be surprised if we had a cooler than normal winter. [Listen/Read the Full Interview here]
I predict, oh dearest reader, that we will have one more awesome and mild winter like the previous one this year but next year....next year will be cold and snowy....i'm no professional but it's always fun to predict. It's interesting asking 'ol timers their weather opinions and they are usually spot-on! It's almost like they have 6th Sense in predicting Island climate!


Atlantic Comes Out with a Fantastic Piece on "World War 1 in Photos" [Click Here] to Check it out


Two guides mauled during hike north of Sitka, officials say

Officials say a brown bear mauled two wilderness guides leading a group of 22 tourists Thursday in the area of Sitkoh Bay in Southeast.

The vessel Wilderness Explorer operated by Un-Cruise Adventures initially reported the mauling to the Coast Guard, stating that two of its passengers were hurt.

"Paramedics on scene evaluated the two as needing medical evacuation. Both sustained multiple injuries and severe lacerations," according to a release from the Coast Guard.

The guides, an unidentified man and woman, were walking on the Sitkoh Creek Trail, about 30 miles north of Sitka. The encounter happened about 2 1/2 miles up the trail, said Un-Cruise director of communications Sarah Scoltock.

While one of the victims was treated and released following the run-in with the bears, the second victim is being held with more serious injuries, troopers said. [Read Full Source]

New Startup Aims to Commercialize a Brain Prosthetic to Improve Memory

A startup named Kernel came out of stealth mode yesterday and revealed its ambitious mission: to develop a ready-for-the-clinic brain prosthetic to help people with memory problems. The broad target market includes people with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia, as well as those who have suffered a stroke or traumatic brain injury.

If the company succeeds, surgeons will one day implant Kernel’s tiny device in their patients’ brains—specifically in the brain region called the hippocampus. There, the device’s electrodes will electrically stimulate certain neurons to help them do their job—turning incoming information about the world into long-term memories.

Kernel’s device will be based on a research effort led by Ted Berger, director of the Center for Neural Engineering at the University of Southern California. Berger tells IEEE Spectrum that his experiments with rats and primates make him confident that “it’s really time” for a clinical device. “We’re testing it in humans now, and getting good initial results,” he says. “We’re going to go forward with the goal of commercializing this prosthesis.”

An implanted memory prosthetic would have electrodes to record signals during learning, a microprocessor to do the computations, and electrodes that stimulate neurons to encode the information as a memory. [Full Source]

Astronomers see the before and after of an exploding white dwarf star

In 2009, a super dense dead star exploded in a brilliant flash of light — and astronomers were able to watch the entire thing from Earth. The dead star was a white dwarf, the leftover remnant of a star that has used up all its fuel and collapsed. The explosion was a classical nova, a rarely seen type of star explosion that occurs only in white dwarfs. The astronomers were able to watch this star before and after it exploded, providing the first ever visual confirmation of what triggers this strange star eruption.

Astronomers rarely get to see the events leading up to a star explosion. "When novae or supernovae go off, they are usually followed up with many telescopes, and therefore we know a great deal about the ‘after’ of these explosions," says Carles Badenes, an astronomer at the University of Pittsburgh, who was not involved in the study. "But it is of course very hard to know...which star is going to do something interesting, so the ‘before’ is very much a mystery."
Because they saw what happened before the explosion, the astronomers have provided first-ever confirmation of how a star system evolves before and after a classical nova. [Full Source]

Read More:  Favorite Links Friday Week of August 12, 2016


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