Herbal Viagra actually contains the real thing



































IF IT looks too good to be true, it probably is. Several "herbal remedies" for erectile dysfunction sold online actually contain the active ingredient from Viagra.












Michael Lamb at Arcadia University in Glenside, Pennsylvania, and colleagues purchased 10 popular "natural" uplifting remedies on the internet and tested them for the presence of sildenafil, the active ingredient in Viagra. They found the compound, or a similar synthetic drug, in seven of the 10 products – cause for concern because it can be dangerous for people with some medical conditions.












Lamb's work was presented last week at the American Academy of Forensic Sciences meeting in Washington DC.












This article appeared in print under the headline "Herbal Viagra gets a synthetic boost"


















































If you would like to reuse any content from New Scientist, either in print or online, please contact the syndication department first for permission. New Scientist does not own rights to photos, but there are a variety of licensing options available for use of articles and graphics we own the copyright to.









































































All comments should respect the New Scientist House Rules. If you think a particular comment breaks these rules then please use the "Report" link in that comment to report it to us.


If you are having a technical problem posting a comment, please contact technical support.








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Football: Defeated Barcelona rage over Real 'favouritism'






MADRID: Barcelona defender Gerard Pique has claimed that Real Madrid tend to get the big decisions from referees after his side were denied a last minute penalty in their 2-1 defeat to Real Madrid.

Sergio Ramos' header nine minutes from time proved to be the winner after Karim Benzema and Lionel Messi had exchanged goals in the first-half.

But Pique and his teammates were left aggrieved after Ramos appeared to fell Adriano inside the box with Barca keeper Victor Valdes even receiving a red card for his protests after the final whistle had been blown.

"We said to the referee that it seemed clear to us, but we already know how these things go. Against Real Madrid, if the game is close, just by chance things tend to go in their favour," said Pique.

"We are left with the feeling that a draw would have been a fair result if we had been given the penalty, but we cannot make this excuse because this team has too much quality to depend on refereeing decisions to win games."

The defeat was Barca's third defeat in four games and Pique admits they are struggling to find their best form.

"You can't maintain this level for 12 months. In the last four years we have always had moments in which our level of performance has dropped.

"However, it is clear that we have had three of four bad games and this is serious because Barcelona always have to win."

On the other hand victory came as even more of a welcome surprise for the hosts after manager Jose Mourinho made seven changes to the side that had beaten Barca 3-1 in the Copa del Rey on Tuesday with star-man Cristiano Ronaldo starting only on the bench.

However, even without their talisman they made the perfect start as Benzema tapped home Alvaro Morata's cross before Messi brought Barca level with a trademark left-footed finish 12 minutes later.

Ronaldo's introduction after the break though sparked the game into life and after Valdes had produced fine saves to beat away the Portuguese's free-kick and deny Morata when he was clean through, Ramos left the Barca keeper helpless as he rose highest to power home Luka Modric's corner.

Madrid's victory keeps their very slim hopes of retaining their title alive as it cuts Barca's lead over the champions to 13 points, but as Mourinho's team selection indicated of more immediate importance is Tuesday's make or break Champions League tie with Manchester United with the tie level at 1-1.

And Ramos believes that two victories against Barca is the perfect way to prepare for their trip to Old Trafford.

"It's clear that these victories are great for the confidence of the group because now we face a difficult match in the Champions League," he said.

"After the two Clasicos we are going to Manchester convinced that we can win, although with a lot of respect for the opponent who are a great team."

Elsewhere, Valencia missed the opportunity to move into fourth as Jose Barkero's late equaliser gave Levante a share of the spoils as the Valencia derby ended 2-2.

Vicente Iborra had headed Levante into an early lead before Jonas and Roberto Soldado replied for the hosts, but a slip by Jeremy Mathieu three minutes from time allowed Barkero in to salvage a point for Juan Ignacio Martinez's men.

At the bottom Deportivo la Coruna remain rooted to the foot of the table after they could only manage a 0-0 draw at home to Rayo Vallecano, but Athletic Bilbao eased their relegation fears with a hard-fought 1-0 win away to Osasuna thanks to Markel Susaeta's second-half strike.

- AFP/jc



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Spending cut debate casts pall over Obama's second-term agenda


WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Just hours after across-the-board spending cuts officially took effect, President Barack Obama pressed Congress on Saturday to work with him on a compromise to halt a fiscal crisis that threatens the economy and his broader domestic policy agenda.


The failure by Obama and Republicans to agree to halt the $85 billion 'sequester' cuts virtually guaranteed that fiscal issues would remain center stage in Washington for weeks, crowding out Obama's proposals to reform immigration, tighten gun laws and raise the minimum wage.


The economic effects of the spending cuts may take time to kick in, but political blowback has already begun and is hitting Obama as well as congressional Republicans.


A Reuters/Ipsos poll on Friday showed neither Republicans on one side nor Obama and his fellow Democrats escaping blame.


Obama's approval rating dropped to 47 percent in a Gallup poll on Friday, down from 51 percent in the previous three-day period measured.


While most polls show voters blame Republicans primarily for the fiscal mess, Obama could see himself associated with the worst effects of sequestration like the looming furloughs of hundreds of thousands of federal workers.


He signed an order on Friday night that started putting the cuts into effect.


In his weekly radio address, Obama appealed for Republicans to work with Democrats on a deal, saying Americans were weary of seeing Washington "careen from one manufactured crisis to another."


But he offered no new ideas to resolve the recurring fiscal fights, and there was no immediate sign of any negotiations.


"There's a caucus of common sense (in Congress)," Obama said in his address. "And I'm going to keep reaching out to them to fix this for good."


At the heart of Washington's persistent fiscal showdowns is disagreement over how to slash the budget deficit and the $16 trillion national debt, bloated over the years by wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and government stimulus for the ailing economy.


The Democratic president wants to close the fiscal gap with spending cuts and tax hikes - what he calls a "balanced approach." But Republicans do not want to concede again on taxes after doing so in negotiations over the "fiscal cliff" at the New Year.


As Obama and his aides have done for weeks, the president in offered a litany of hardships he said would flow from the forced spending cuts.


"Beginning this week, businesses that work with the military will have to lay folks off. Communities near military bases will take a serious blow. Hundreds of thousands of Americans who serve their country - Border Patrol agents, FBI agents, civilians who work for the Defense Department - will see their wages cut and their hours reduced," he said.


'IT'S CALLED LEADERSHIP'


Critics said Obama should have held meaningful talks with congressional leaders long before Friday's last-minute meeting at the White House, which failed to prevent the automatic cuts written into law during a previous budget crisis in 2011.


"The president should call the senior representatives of the parties together to Camp David - or any place with a table, chairs, and no TV cameras - for serious negotiations on replacing the sequester with firm, enforceable beginnings of a comprehensive long-term debt stabilization agreement," said former Republican Senator Pete Domenici and fiscal expert Alice Rivlin.


The budget veterans, who lead the Bipartisan Policy Center's Debt Reduction Task Force, called on Obama and congressional Republican leaders to "be willing to tell those on the polar extremes of their parties that a central majority consensus will govern. It's called leadership."


After months of silence on political issues, Obama's Republican opponent in last November's election resurfaced to take a swipe at the Democrat's handling of the sequestration mess.


"No one can think that that's been a success for the president," Mitt Romney said in an interview to air on "Fox News Sunday."


The former Massachusetts governor accused Obama of "flying around the country and berating Republicans and blaming and pointing," instead of striking a budget deal.


Twenty-eight percent of Americans blame Republicans for the lack of a deal to halt sequestration, while 22 percent hold either Obama or the Democrats in Congress responsible, according to the Reuters/Ipsos poll. Thirty-seven percent blame them all.


The budget standstill has overshadowed Obama's aggressive set of policy goals ranging from boosting pre-school education to fighting climate change and reforming America's immigration system.


Obama vowed in a news conference on Friday that the fiscal troubles would not prevent him from advocating for those proposals.


"I think there are other areas where we can make progress even with the sequester unresolved. I will continue to push for those initiatives," he said.


(Editing by Alistair Bell and Peter Cooney)



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We Didn’t Domesticate Dogs. They Domesticated Us.


In the story of how the dog came in from the cold and onto our sofas, we tend to give ourselves a little too much credit. The most common assumption is that some hunter-gatherer with a soft spot for cuteness found some wolf puppies and adopted them. Over time, these tamed wolves would have shown their prowess at hunting, so humans kept them around the campfire until they evolved into dogs. (See "How to Build a Dog.")

But when we look back at our relationship with wolves throughout history, this doesn't really make sense. For one thing, the wolf was domesticated at a time when modern humans were not very tolerant of carnivorous competitors. In fact, after modern humans arrived in Europe around 43,000 years ago, they pretty much wiped out every large carnivore that existed, including saber-toothed cats and giant hyenas. The fossil record doesn't reveal whether these large carnivores starved to death because modern humans took most of the meat or whether humans picked them off on purpose. Either way, most of the Ice Age bestiary went extinct.

The hunting hypothesis, that humans used wolves to hunt, doesn't hold up either. Humans were already successful hunters without wolves, more successful than every other large carnivore. Wolves eat a lot of meat, as much as one deer per ten wolves every day-a lot for humans to feed or compete against. And anyone who has seen wolves in a feeding frenzy knows that wolves don't like to share.

Humans have a long history of eradicating wolves, rather than trying to adopt them. Over the last few centuries, almost every culture has hunted wolves to extinction. The first written record of the wolf's persecution was in the sixth century B.C. when Solon of Athens offered a bounty for every wolf killed. The last wolf was killed in England in the 16th century under the order of Henry VII. In Scotland, the forested landscape made wolves more difficult to kill. In response, the Scots burned the forests. North American wolves were not much better off. By 1930, there was not a wolf left in the 48 contiguous states of America.  (See "Wolf Wars.")

If this is a snapshot of our behavior toward wolves over the centuries, it presents one of the most perplexing problems: How was this misunderstood creature tolerated by humans long enough to evolve into the domestic dog?

The short version is that we often think of evolution as being the survival of the fittest, where the strong and the dominant survive and the soft and weak perish. But essentially, far from the survival of the leanest and meanest, the success of dogs comes down to survival of the friendliest.

Most likely, it was wolves that approached us, not the other way around, probably while they were scavenging around garbage dumps on the edge of human settlements. The wolves that were bold but aggressive would have been killed by humans, and so only the ones that were bold and friendly would have been tolerated.

Friendliness caused strange things to happen in the wolves. They started to look different. Domestication gave them splotchy coats, floppy ears, wagging tails. In only several generations, these friendly wolves would have become very distinctive from their more aggressive relatives. But the changes did not just affect their looks. Changes also happened to their psychology. These protodogs evolved the ability to read human gestures.

As dog owners, we take for granted that we can point to a ball or toy and our dog will bound off to get it. But the ability of dogs to read human gestures is remarkable. Even our closest relatives-chimpanzees and bonobos-can't read our gestures as readily as dogs can. Dogs are remarkably similar to human infants in the way they pay attention to us. This ability accounts for the extraordinary communication we have with our dogs. Some dogs are so attuned to their owners that they can read a gesture as subtle as a change in eye direction.

With this new ability, these protodogs were worth knowing. People who had dogs during a hunt would likely have had an advantage over those who didn't. Even today, tribes in Nicaragua depend on dogs to detect prey. Moose hunters in alpine regions bring home 56 percent more prey when they are accompanied by dogs. In the Congo, hunters believe they would starve without their dogs.

Dogs would also have served as a warning system, barking at hostile strangers from neighboring tribes. They could have defended their humans from predators.

And finally, though this is not a pleasant thought, when times were tough, dogs could have served as an emergency food supply. Thousands of years before refrigeration and with no crops to store, hunter-gatherers had no food reserves until the domestication of dogs. In tough times, dogs that were the least efficient hunters might have been sacrificed to save the group or the best hunting dogs. Once humans realized the usefulness of keeping dogs as an emergency food supply, it was not a huge jump to realize plants could be used in a similar way.

So, far from a benign human adopting a wolf puppy, it is more likely that a population of wolves adopted us. As the advantages of dog ownership became clear, we were as strongly affected by our relationship with them as they have been by their relationship with us. Dogs may even have been the catalyst for our civilization.

Dr. Brian Hare is the director of the Duke Canine Cognition Center and Vanessa Woods is a research scientist at Duke University. This essay is adapted from their new book, The Genius of Dogs, published by Dutton. To play science-based games to find the genius in your dog, visit www.dognition.com.


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US Seeks to Confirm Report of Terror Leader's Death











American military and intelligence officials said today they are attempting to confirm a report from the Chadian military of the death of al Qaeda leader Mokhtar Belmokhtar, the alleged mastermind of the deadly attack on an Algerian natural gas facility in January.


If the new report is confirmed, Belmokhtar's death would be a significant victory against a growing al Qaeda threat in northern Africa.


Belmokhtar's killing was announced on Chadian national television by armed forces spokesperson Gen. Zacharia Gobongue, who said Chadian troops "operating in northern Mali completely destroyed a terrorist base."


"The [death] toll included several dead terrorists, including their leader, Mokhtar Belmokhtar," he said.


However, an unidentified elected official in Mali told The Associated Press he doubted Belmokhtar had actually been killed and said he suspected the Chadian government of pushing the story to ease the loss of dozens of Chadian troops in operations in northern Africa.






SITE Intel Group/AP Photo







Belmokhtar is known as Mr. Marlboro because of the millions he made smuggling cigarettes across the Sahara, but in the last few months the one-eyed terrorist leader has become one of the most sought after terrorists in the world. The attack on the plant near In Amenas in eastern Algeria left dozens of Westerns and at least three Americans dead.


Belmokhtar had formed his own al Qaeda splinter group and announced he would use his wealth to finance more attacks against American and Western interests in the region and beyond.


The U.S. has badly wanted Belmokhtar stopped and actively helped in the search by French and African military units to find him, as well as another top al Qaeda leader who was reported killed yesterday.


After the Chadian announcement, House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Rep. Ed Royce (R-Calif.) said Belmokhtar's death, if confirmed, "would be a hard blow to the collection of jihadists operating across the region that are targeting American diplomats and energy workers."


Steve Wysocki, a plant worker who survived the attack in In Amenas thanked "military forces from around the world," especially the Chadian military, for bringing "this terrorist to an expedient justice."


"My family and I continue to mourn for our friends and colleagues who didn't make it home and pray for their families," Wysocki told ABC News.


The CIA has been after Belmokhtar since the early 1990s, Royce's statement said.


ABC News' Clayton Sandell contributed to this report.



Read More..

Herbal Viagra actually contains the real thing



































IF IT looks too good to be true, it probably is. Several "herbal remedies" for erectile dysfunction sold online actually contain the active ingredient from Viagra.












Michael Lamb at Arcadia University in Glenside, Pennsylvania, and colleagues purchased 10 popular "natural" uplifting remedies on the internet and tested them for the presence of sildenafil, the active ingredient in Viagra. They found the compound, or a similar synthetic drug, in seven of the 10 products – cause for concern because it can be dangerous for people with some medical conditions.












Lamb's work was presented last week at the American Academy of Forensic Sciences meeting in Washington DC.












This article appeared in print under the headline "Herbal Viagra gets a synthetic boost"


















































If you would like to reuse any content from New Scientist, either in print or online, please contact the syndication department first for permission. New Scientist does not own rights to photos, but there are a variety of licensing options available for use of articles and graphics we own the copyright to.




































All comments should respect the New Scientist House Rules. If you think a particular comment breaks these rules then please use the "Report" link in that comment to report it to us.


If you are having a technical problem posting a comment, please contact technical support.








Read More..

Obama to visit Russia in September






WASHINGTON: US President Barack Obama will visit Saint Petersburg for September's G20 summit and will also hold a meeting with President Vladimir Putin at the G8 summit in Northern Ireland in June.

The White House made the announcement Friday after the leaders spoke by phone to discuss the Syria crisis amid testy relations between Russia and the United States, which have deteriorated since Obama's first term.

Russia had hoped that Obama would pay an official visit to the country last year, his first since Putin returned to the presidency, but Washington's ties with Moscow have been uneasy, and the visit never took place.

Obama's announcement means that he will also not travel to Russia before the G20 summit, in another disappointment to the Kremlin.

Washington and Moscow have been especially at odds over Syria, and Russia's role in vetoing UN Security Council action to censure President Bashar al-Assad for his crackdown on an opposition revolt that has killed 70,000 people.

"The two presidents agreed on the need to advance a political transition to end the violence as soon as possible," said a White House statement, referring to Syria.

US Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov will continue to work together on the issue following their meeting in Berlin on Tuesday, the White House said.

A statement issued earlier from the Kremlin said that Putin noted the need to end "military activities" in Syria as soon as possible.

Russia also denounced a new US pledge to provide direct aid, but no arms, to Syrian rebel fighters, saying it will fuel more violence in the nearly two-year war.

Despite the tensions, Obama vowed in his State of the Union address in February to work with the Kremlin to reduce both Russian and American stockpiles of nuclear weapons.

Relations between Moscow and Washington have been especially harmed by the Obama administration's criticism of Moscow's deteriorating human rights record under Putin.

There has also been tension over adoptions of Russian orphans by US nationals in recent weeks.

The spat started after the US Congress passed a bill last year targeting Russian officials with sanctions over the prison death of Russian lawyer Sergei Magnitsky.

Russia retaliated with a ban on all US adoptions, saying Russian children in the United States were abused and even murdered by their adoptive parents.

One of Obama's major foreign policy achievements of his first term was a "reset" of relations with Russia engineered with former president Dmitry Medvedev, but the return of Putin has soured the mood.

-AFP/ac



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U.S. lurches into new budget crisis, spending cuts imminent


WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. government stumbled headlong on Friday toward spending cuts that could dampen the economy and curb military readiness, after President Barack Obama and congressional leaders failed to find an alternative budget plan.


Put in place during a bout of deficit-reduction fever in 2011, the automatic cuts can only be halted by agreement between Congress and the White House.


As expected, a deal proved elusive in talks on Friday, meaning that government agencies will now begin to hack a total of $85 billion from their budgets between Saturday and October 1. Financial markets in New York shrugged off the stalemate in Washington.


Democrats predict the cuts, known as "sequestration," could soon cause air-traffic delays, furloughs for hundreds of thousands of federal employees and disruption to education.


New U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said the cuts, half of which will fall on the Pentagon, put at risk "all of our missions."


While the International Monetary Fund warned that the belt-tightening could slow U.S. economic growth by at least 0.5 of a percentage point this year, that is not a huge drag on an economy that is picking up steam.


Obama was resigned to government budgets shrinking.


"Even with these cuts in place, folks all across this country will work hard to make sure that we keep the recovery going, but Washington sure isn't making it easy," he said after meeting Republican and Democratic congressional leaders.


At the heart of Washington's persistent fiscal crises is disagreement over how to slash the budget deficit and the $16 trillion national debt, bloated over the years by wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and government stimulus for the ailing economy.


Obama wants to close the fiscal gap with spending cuts and tax hikes, but Republicans do not want to concede again on taxes after doing so in negotiations over the "fiscal cliff" at the New Year.


"The discussion about revenue, in my view, is over. It's about taking on the spending problem," House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner said on leaving the meeting.


The full brunt of the automatic cuts will be borne over seven months. Congress can stop them at any time if the two parties agree on how to do so.


No matter how Obama and Congress resolve the 2013 battle, this round of automatic spending cuts is only one of a decade's worth of annual cuts totaling $1.2 trillion mandated by the sequestration law.


Given the absence of a deal, Obama will issue an order to federal agencies by midnight on Friday to reduce their budgets. The White House budget office must send a report to Congress detailing the spending cuts.


The Justice Department has already sent notices of furloughs that will begin April 21 at the earliest to some 115,000 workers, including at the FBI.


Unlike previous fiscal dramas, the sequestration fight is not rattling Wall Street.


U.S. stocks rose moderately on Friday, with the Dow Industrials closing up 35 points, as data showed manufacturing expanded at its fastest pace in 20 months in February. Despite the market being up more than 7 percent this year, and near a record high, the discord in Washington has not prompted traders to cash in gains.


"Most of us believe that sequestration is not something that will make us fall off the cliff, since the cuts will be worked in relatively slowly," said Bill Stone, chief investment strategist at PNC Wealth Management in Philadelphia.


CANADA FRUSTRATED


Canadian Finance Minister Jim Flaherty expressed rare public frustration with the United States for lurching from crisis to crisis.


Flaherty said he was confident Canada would not suffer too badly from the fiscal troubles its biggest trading partner is suffering from. "It is regrettable, though, that the U.S. continues to move from crisis to crisis in fiscal terms," he told reporters.


Another influential minister in Canada's Conservative government, House Leader Peter Van Loan, took a swipe at the United States, saying it was up to its ears in debt because of big-spending, left-wing policies.


One reason for the inaction in Washington is that both parties still hope the other will either be blamed by voters for the cuts or cave in before the worst effects predicted by Democrats come into effect.


A Reuters/Ipsos poll released on Friday showed 28 percent of Americans blamed congressional Republicans for the sequestration mess, 18 percent thought Obama was responsible and 4 percent blamed congressional Democrats. Thirty-seven percent blamed them all, according the online poll.


The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office predicts 750,000 jobs could be lost in 2013, and federal employees throughout the country are looking to trim their own costs.


"The kids won't go to the dentist, the kids might not go to the doctor, we won't be spending money in local restaurants, local movie theaters," said Paul O'Connor, president of the Metal Trades Council, which represents 2,500 workers at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Kittery, Maine.


After weeks of White House warnings about the cuts causing air-traffic chaos, threatening cancer research and keeping law enforcement officers off the streets, Obama acknowledged it might be a while before effects fully kicked in.


"We will get through this. This is not going to be an apocalypse," he told journalists in the White House.


"Not everyone will feel the pain of these cuts right away. The pain though will be real. Beginning this week, many middle-class families will have their lives disrupted in significant ways," Obama said.


In the absence of any deal at all, the Pentagon will be forced to slice 13 percent of its budget between now and September 30.


In his first Pentagon news conference since he was sworn in on Wednesday, Hagel struck a more moderate tone than many defense officials who have said the spending reductions would be devastating or could turn the U.S. military into a second-rate power.


"America ... has the best fighting force, the most capable fighting force, the most powerful fighting force in the world," he said. "The management of this institution, starting with the Joint Chiefs, are not going to allow this capacity to erode."


Most non-defense programs, from NASA space exploration to federally backed education and law enforcement, face a 9 percent reduction.


Moving to head off a new budget crisis later this month, Boehner said the Republican-led House would move a "continuing resolution" to fund government through the rest of the fiscal year, thus hopefully averting a government shutdown.


(Additional reporting by Steve Holland, Roberta Rampton and Deborah Zabarenko in Washington and David Ljunggren in Ottawa, Writing by Alistair Bell; Editing by Peter Cooney)



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Black Hole Spins at Nearly the Speed of Light


A superfast black hole nearly 60 million light-years away appears to be pushing the ultimate speed limit of the universe, a new study says.

For the first time, astronomers have managed to measure the rate of spin of a supermassive black hole—and it's been clocked at 84 percent of the speed of light, or the maximum allowed by the law of physics.

"The most exciting part of this finding is the ability to test the theory of general relativity in such an extreme regime, where the gravitational field is huge, and the properties of space-time around it are completely different from the standard Newtonian case," said lead author Guido Risaliti, of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA) and INAF-Arcetri Observatory in Italy. (Related: "Speedy Star Found Near Black Hole May Test Einstein Theory.")

Notorious for ripping apart and swallowing stars, supermassive black holes live at the center of most galaxies, including our own Milky Way. (See black hole pictures.)

They can pack the gravitational punch of many million or even billions of suns—distorting space-time in the region around them, not even letting light to escape their clutches.

Galactic Monster

The predatory monster that lurks at the core of the relatively nearby spiral galaxy NGC 1365 is estimated to weigh in at about two million times the mass of the sun, and stretches some 2 million miles (3.2 million kilometers) across-more than eight times the distance between Earth and the moon, Risaliti said. (Also see "Black Hole Blast Biggest Ever Recorded.")

Risaliti and colleagues' unprecedented discovery was made possible thanks to the combined observations from NASA's high-energy x-ray detectors on its Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR) probe and the European Space Agency's low-energy, x-ray-detecting XMM-Newton space observatory.

Astronomers detected x-ray particle remnants of stars circling in a pancake-shaped accretion disk surrounding the black hole, and used this data to help determine its rate of spin.

By getting a fix on this spin speed, astronomers now hope to better understand what happens inside giant black holes as they gravitationally warp space-time around themselves.

Even more intriguing to the research team is that this discovery will shed clues to black hole's past, and the evolution of its surrounding galaxy.

Tracking the Universe's Evolution

Supermassive black holes have a large impact in the evolution of their host galaxy, where a self-regulating process occurs between the two structures.

"When more stars are formed, they throw gas into the black hole, increasing its mass, but the radiation produced by this accretion warms up the gas in the galaxy, preventing more star formation," said Risaliti.

"So the two events—black hole accretion and formation of new stars—interact with each other."

Knowing how fast black holes spin may also help shed light how the entire universe evolved. (Learn more about the origin of the universe.)

"With a knowledge of the average spin of galaxies at different ages of the universe," Risaliti said, "we could track their evolution much more precisely than we can do today."


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Sequester Begins But Govt. Shutdown Looks Unlikely





Mar 1, 2013 4:13pm


ap obama boehner split nt 121231 wblog Sequester Begins But Government Shutdown Looks Unlikely

Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg/Getty Imag


It may not be readily obvious from the blizzard of news out there today on the “sequester,” but a government shutdown became significantly less likely today, even as the automatic budget cuts barreled ahead toward reality.


What happened? Both sides – Republicans and Democrats – basically seem to have agreed that as they will continue to fight out the $85 billion in automatic budget cuts starting to take effect today, they will not allow that disagreement to jeopardize full funding for the federal government. That funding is now scheduled to expire March 27.


RELATED: President Obama, Congressional Leaders Fail to Avert Sequester Cuts


After the White House meeting this morning, House Speaker John Boehner said he would have the House vote next week to fund the full government – what’s known as a “continuing resolution.”


Boehner: “I did lay out that the House is going to move a continuing resolution next week to fund the government past March 27th, and I’m hopeful that we won’t have to deal with the threat of a government shutdown while we’re dealing with the sequester at the same time. The House will act next week, and I hope the Senate will follow suit.”


READ MORE: 6 Questions (and Answers) About the Sequester


Boehner’s office provided this read-out of the meeting: “The president and leaders agreed legislation should be enacted this month to prevent a government shutdown while we continue to work on a solution to replace the president’s sequester.”


The president was asked at his mini-news conference whether he would definitely sign such a bill, even if it keeps government going at the new, lower spending levels as this fight is resolved (or not).


RELATED: 57 Terrible Consequences of the Sequester


Obama’s response: “With respect to the budget and keeping the government open – I’ll try for our viewing audience to make sure that we’re not talking in Washington gobbledygook. What’s called the continuing resolution, which is essentially just an extension of last year’s budget into this year’s budget to make sure that basic government functions continue, I think it’s the right thing to do to make sure that we don’t have a government shutdown. And that’s preventable.”


So even as we moved toward the brink of sequester, the nation’s leaders took a step back from another, much larger cliff.



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