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Is it Time to Worry about an Ice Age?

Trumpeted daily in the press, the claims by some scientists of an approaching catastrophic rise in earth temperatures—brought on by human activity—is seldom challenged. But, there remain respected researchers who think that changes in Earth’s temperature, are more likely due to the Sun. The 11-year sunspot cycle and other solar events, they believe, can be correlated with many earthly cycles, including temperature. For these observers, we may have more to fear from global cooling than warming.

Astrophysicist Dr. Valentina Zharkova, and her colleagues at Northumbria University in the United Kingdom, have published a paper in the journal Nature, detailing discoveries that could shed new light on the inner workings of the Sun. The next three solar cycles, she predicts, will see solar activity dramatically decrease, producing conditions very similar to those last seen in the 1600s during the Maunder Minimum or ‘little ice age.’ “We will see it [the cooling] from 2020 to 2053,” she says. The Medieval warm period from AD 950 to 1100, the so-called mini ice age of the seventeenth and eighteen centuries, and many other major climate change events, occurred long before the industrial age and the vast increase in carbon usage, now blamed by many for global warming. Such events do, however, seem to correlate with the well observed changes in solar activity.

Even though the sun may be duplicating conditions that can be associated with a dramatically cooling Earth, Zharkova argues the recently increased presence of greenhouse gases could serve to mitigate the cooling effect. Notwithstanding the caveat, Zharkova’s study has been greeted, she says, with much opposition from some in the climate industry, who have tried to suppress her new findings.


‘Impossible’ Minerals in Siberian Mine

The ancient alchemists looked for something called the philosopher’s stone, which, it was said, could catalyze the transmutation of base metal, or lead, into gold—providing a bridge between the physical and the spiritual. Today, with excess carbon in the atmosphere considered by many to be one of the greatest threats to human survival, the search for minerals that could soak it up, seems a bit like a modern-day analog of the ancient quest. Such minerals, we now learn, although having been synthesized in the laboratory, had never been found in nature—until now.

The wonderful stuff has been located in Siberia, but the discovery is a baffling one, because, according to conventional chemistry, it should not exist. Called metal-organic frameworks, or MOFs, they seem to be a kind of bridge between the organic and inorganic kingdoms. Ironically, stepanovite and zhemchuzhnikovite, as they are called, were first reported in the 1940s and 1960s but were not fully examined. Based on those first studies, subsequent experiments led to their synthesis. Now, like a mystery quest, new searches for the miraculous stones described in the old reports, indeed have found them 230 meters below the permafrost in an obscure Siberian mine.


Bizarre Mini-Planet Orbit Baffles Scientists

Another unexplained mystery from outer space has astronomers and astrophysicists scratching their heads. A tiny, previously unknown, planet (object) has been spotted moving through the solar system, but on a strange path that no one has been able to explain. Less than 125 miles across, the object has been called ‘Niku’, which in Chinese means “rebellious.” It is traveling, say the experts, in a totally wrong direction.

Officially designated as a TNO (Trans Neptunian Object), which sits beyond Neptune in the outer solar system, Niku is a long way from Earth. Unlike almost all the currently known objects circling the sun (except for comets), the new ‘planet’ is moving in an orbit tilted at 110 degrees from the rest of the solar system. Detected by the Pan-STARRS telescope system, set up in Hawaii to find near-Earth objects, it is moving upward and away from everything else. No one has been able to explain how that could happen.

Less doctrinaire observers, who look for subtle correspondences between celestial events and spiritual archetypes, may be forgiven for wondering if we have detected here the dying echo of some vast and ancient interstellar conflict.