Maralinga Journal: Australia’s Least Likely Tourist Spot: a Test Site for Atom Bombs
MARALINGA, Australia — Maralinga, a barren stretch of land in South Australia’s remote western desert, is the country’s only former nuclear test site open to tourists. And Robin Matthews is Australia’s only nuclear tour guide.
Visitors to Maralinga, a deserted military installation the size of Manhattan, who expect to find their tour guide dressed in a yellow jumpsuit and ventilator mask are bound to be disappointed.
Instead, Mr. Matthews, 65, can be found wearing a baseball cap pulled low over his eyes and a cigarette hanging from chapped lips. His skin, deeply tanned, is covered with a narrative of faded tattoos inked long before they were fashionable.
“Yes, there is still radiation here,” Mr. Matthews said as he drove a minibus to the sites where the Australian and British governments dropped seven bombs between 1956 and 1963, which dotted the earth with huge craters and poisoned scores of indigenous people and their descendants.
Back then, the government placed hundreds of human guinea pigs — wearing only shorts and long socks — in the front areas of the test zones. The effects of large doses of radiation were devastating.
Nowadays, after a multimillion-dollar cleanup, radiation poses little danger to visitors, Mr. Matthews said, unless they choose to “eat mouthfuls of dust.”
Maralinga, which means “thunder” in the extinct Aboriginal language Garik, is an unlikely tourist destination. It is hot and arid, and at 700 miles west of Adelaide it is difficult to reach. When tours started in 2016, the village was accessible by only two flights a week from Ceduna, the closest “large” city, which itself has a population of fewer than 3,000 people.
But the Maralinga Tjarutja people hope to increase the number of visitors to the site this year. The Maralinga Tjarutja Administration, which operates the site, is increasing the number of regular flights to the village, increasing the length of the tour to three days and working with the South Australian government on a business plan to lure more visitors, said Sharon Yendall, the group’s general manager.
Don Richards, who served at Maralinga as a clerk in the Australian Air Force from 1963 to 1965, was one of the 1,000 tourists who have so far visited the site.
“I learned more in that tour than I really learned in the two years I was out there,” he said. “It was a pretty interesting place to be — a fairly motley crew lived at Maralinga once.”
Today just four people live full time in Maralinga village, a veritable ghost town. Amid the old buildings are new lodgings built for tourists, complete with hot water and Wi-Fi.
In the 1950s and ’60s, at the height of the Cold War, 35,000 military personnel lived here. There was a permanent airstrip, then the longest in the Southern Hemisphere, plus roads, a swimming pool, accommodation and railway access.
The first nuclear test was conducted in September 1956, two months before the Melbourne Olympics. That blast — as powerful as the bomb that the United States dropped on Hiroshima, Japan — was the first of seven atomic bombs set off here.
But it was the so-called minor tests that were the most harrowing. Carried out in secret, the tests examined how toxic substances, including uranium and plutonium 239, would react when burned or blown up. To ensure tourists’ safety in the area, a zone was cleaned up by radiation scientists at the cost of more than 100 million Australian dollars, about $77 million.
Around one area tourists can visit are 22 major pits, each at least 50 feet deep and cased in reinforced concrete to prevent dangerous radiation from seeping out.
The site looks like a recently tilled garden bed, stretching out for hundreds of yards, in a near perfect circle. Dotting the red desert earth are shards of twisted metal. Aside from a few feral camels loping nearby, it is still and silent.
But on Oct. 4 1956, a “nuclear land mine” was detonated here, tearing a crater 140 feet wide and 70 feet deep into the earth.
The resulting atomic reaction took only a fraction of a second, but its effects on one indigenous family would last decades.
In early 1957, Edie Millpuddie and her family were traversing the Great Victoria Desert plains. “The Millpuddies needed shelter for the night, and they came across this enormous hole where the ground was still warm,” Mr. Mathews said. “They drank rainwater from the bottom and lit a fire. All the rabbits in the area seemed disoriented; they were easy pickings for dinner before the family went to sleep in the crater.”
Two weeks later, Ms. Millpuddie delivered a stillborn baby.
Later, her surviving children’s children would all be born with “physical and mental deformities,” Mr. Matthews said. “This all happened right where we’re standing.”
Survivors of the blasts, their children and grandchildren suffered from cataracts, blood diseases, arthritic conditions, stomach cancers and birth defects. In the 1980s, a Royal Commission investigating the tests awarded Ms. Millpuddie 75,000 Australian dollars.
There was no overt pressure or media scrutiny over what happened at Maralinga until the 1970s, when those injured by the tests came forward and a small group of journalists and politicians cast a more critical eye on the tests and the secrecy surrounding them.
Mr. Matthews first visited Maralinga in 1972. His wife, Della, is a member of the Anangu people, and when the land was decontaminated, the couple were asked to be Maralinga’s first caretakers.
One recent morning, Mr. Matthews busied himself with preparations for the arrival of a charter plane full of tourists.
He would love it, he said, if indigenous people replaced him as the guides at Maralinga, though he also understands why they would choose not to.
“We now bring our kids and our grandchildren here to explain what happened,” he said. “This is their land and their ancestors’ land.”
April 15, 2018
Sources: New York Times
or redistributed. ©2018 FOX News Network, LLC. All rights reserved. All market data delayed 20 minutes.</p><p>Raw video: Deputies called to Quality Inn in Sebring, Florida after an alligator was seen walking about; licensed trapper cornered the reptile and took it away.</p><p>An alligator was caught checking out rooms at a Quality Inn motel in Sebring, Florida, over the weekend. But officials with the Highlands County Sheriff's Office say the nearly 5-foot-long creature may have just been looking for the perfect spot to day drink.</p><p>The sheriff's office shared a 40-second video of the gator slowly making its way past a block of hotel rooms before turning a corner to head down another hall. Deputies called a licensed trapper who taped the gator's mouth shut, carried it to his truck and relocated it.</p><p>As of Monday afternoon, the video of the "partying" gator has received nearly 60,000 views and more than 1,400 shares on Facebook. Dozens of people were quick to crack jokes about the creature.</p><p> "Maybe he was just looking for the tiki bar to get a margatorita..."</p><p>"He’s getting ready for that BYOB," one user replied.</p><p>"Excuse me sir... i need to see some ID," another joked.</p><p>"Business as usual in Florida.." a local said.</p><p>Anyone who believes an alligator is posing a "threat to people, pets or property" should call FWC’s toll-free hotline at 866-FWC-GATOR, Snapp said.</p><p>This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. ©2018 FOX News Network, LLC. All rights reserved. All market data delayed 20 minutes.</p>
or redistributed. ©2018 FOX News Network, LLC. All rights reserved. All market data delayed 20 minutes.</p><p> The apparently loaded dice have two fives and two fours, instead of the numbers one and two. (Angela Weigand, UiB) </p><p>Cheating is as old as time itself, if the discovery of a mysterious 600-year-old dodgy dice is anything to go by.</p><p>The highly unusual wooden dice was found during excavations in the Norwegian city of Bergen. Featuring “two fives” and “two fours,” archaeologists believe that the dice was used to cheat in games.</p><p>Experts from the Norwegian Institute for Cultural Heritage Research (NIKU) discovered the dice close to a wooden street that dates back to the 1400s in Vågsbunnen, a medieval district of Bergen.</p><p>The dice was found during an excavation in the Norwegian city of Bergen. (NIKU) </p><p>“It’s exciting to imagine this dice’s last game – was the cheater revealed?” wrote Rekkavik. “What happened to the dice? Was it perhaps thrown away by the nervous cheater eager to get rid of evidence? Or was it angrily thrown by an opponent, to where it ended up being found over 600 years later?”</p><p>This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. ©2018 FOX News Network, LLC. All rights reserved. All market data delayed 20 minutes.</p>
launch today at 6:32 p.m. EDT from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, and you can watch the action live right here (launch coverage will begin at 6 p.m. EDT).</p><p>Equipped with four specialized cameras, the $337 million satellite will have a field of view that covers 85 percent of the sky. This broad view will allow TESS to study about 20 million stars, according to Dr. George Ricker, the mission’s principal investigator and a scientist at the MIT Kavli Institute for Astrophysics and Space Research in Cambridge, Massachusetts.</p><p>What will TESS find? Ricker said not knowing is what makes the mission so exciting. “If you go out with a very sensitive instrument and look in a completely unbiased way, you find stuff that is completely unexpected,” he said. “That’s to me what’s exciting.”</p><p>Like Kepler, TESS is designed to locate exoplanets by searching for what astronomers call transits. These are periodic dips in starlight that occur when a planet’s orbit takes it in front of its host star.</p><p>“With Kepler, we now know the planets exist, we have the size of the planets and in some cases, we have the masses,” said Dr. Stephen Rinehart, a project scientist for the mission at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. “With TESS, we’re going to be able to get the masses for most of the planets and go the next step and study the composition of the atmospheres.”</p>
rotection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt put in his office has caused federal watchdogs to speak up loudly.</p><p>On Monday, the General Accountability Office sent an eight-page letter to Senate lawmakers reporting that the booth violated federal spending law that caps the amount a presidential appointee can spend on upgrading their office at $5,000 without notifying the Appropriations committees in the Senate and House beforehand.</p><p>GAO General Counsel Thomas Armstrong also wrote that the purchase violated the Antideficiency Act, "because EPA obligated appropriated funds in a manner specifically prohibited by law.”</p><p>Pruitt's EPA officials, though, had argued that the booth served a functional purpose: To allow Pruitt to receive calls from President Donald Trump "without concern that classified, deliberative, privileged or sensitive information might inadvertently be disclosed."</p><p>Armstrong's letter, however, rejected that claim that aesthetics were the only purview of the requirement of notifying Congress.</p><p>While EPA now argues there's too much energy being wasted on an investigation into the booth.</p><p>“The GAO letter ‘recognized the...need for employees to have access to a secure telephone line’ when handling sensitive information," EPA spokeswoman LIz Bowman said in a statement. "EPA is addressing GAO’s concern, with regard to Congressional notification about this expense, and will be sending Congress the necessary information this week.”</p>
or redistributed. ©2018 FOX News Network, LLC. All rights reserved. All market data delayed 20 minutes.</p><p>A treasure trove has been uncovered in the eastern German island of Ruegen in the Baltic Sea. The find includes Hundreds of 1,000-year-old silver coins and jewelry. One of the rare jewels depict 'Thor's hammer.'</p><p>An incredible trove of silver treasure linked to the era of a famous Viking king has been discovered on an island in the Baltic Sea.</p><p>Archaeologists said about 100 of the silver coins are probably from the reign of Harald Gormsson, better known as "Harald Bluetooth," who lived in the 10th century and introduced Christianity to Denmark. The king, who earned his nickname on account of a dead tooth that appeared blue, is a significant historical figure who unified parts of Scandinavia.</p><p>Harald Bluetooth was one of the last Viking kings of what is now Denmark, northern Germany, southern Sweden and parts of Norway.</p><p>Jewelry and coins found near Schaprode on the northern German island of Ruegen in the Baltic Sea. (Stefan Sauer/dpa via AP) </p><p>Bluetooth wireless technology, invented by Swedish telecom company Ericsson to connect computers and wireless devices, is named after the king.</p><p>A single silver coin was first found in January by two amateur archaeologists, one of them a 13-year-old boy, in a field near the Ruegen village of Schaprode. The state archaeology office then became involved and the entire treasure was uncovered by experts over the weekend, the Mecklenburg-West Pomerania state archaeology office said Monday.</p><p>"It's the biggest trove of such coins in the southeastern Baltic region," archaeologists said, in a statement.</p><p>This April 13, 2018 photo shows medieval Saxonian, Ottoman, Danish and Byzantine coins found near Schaprode on the northern German island of Ruegen in the Baltic Sea. (Stefan Sauer/dpa via AP) </p><p>The Ruegen silver treasure is just the latest fascinating archaeological find from the Viking era. Last year, for example, an incredibly well-preserved Viking sword was found by a reindeer hunter on a remote mountain in Southern Norway. In 2016, archaeologists in Trondheim, Norway, unearthed the church where Viking King Olaf Haraldsson was first enshrined as a saint.</p><p>Also, in 2016, a tiny Viking crucifix was found in Denmark.</p><p>This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. ©2018 FOX News Network, LLC. All rights reserved. All market data delayed 20 minutes.</p>
. From the cosmic affairs desk, Dennis Overbye takes you on scenic tours through the Milky Way and beyond.</p>
or redistributed. ©2018 FOX News Network, LLC. All rights reserved. All market data delayed 20 minutes.</p><p> An image from the Very Large Telescope's SPHERE instrument showing the dusty disk around the young star IM Lupi. (H. Avenhaus et al./ESO/DARTT-S collaboration) </p><p>Diverse disks of dusty material have been spotted around nearby young stars, suggesting new planets are sprouting up around the alien stars. </p><p>This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. ©2018 FOX News Network, LLC. All rights reserved. All market data delayed 20 minutes.</p>
or redistributed. ©2018 FOX News Network, LLC. All rights reserved. All market data delayed 20 minutes.</p><p> An erupting solar prominence on Aug. 31, 2012, imaged by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory. (NASA/SDO/GSFC) </p><p>Giant plasma "tornadoes" raging across the surface of the sun don't actually spin like astronomers once thought, new research shows. </p><p>"We see tornado-like shapes in the images because of projection effects, where the line of sight information is compressed onto the plane of the sky," Labrosse said. </p><p>Instead, the new measurements using the Doppler effect add a third dimension to the data, allowing scientists to construct a more complete picture of the magnetic-field structure that supports the plasma, according to the statement. </p><p>"They are associated with the legs of solar prominences — these are beautiful concentrations of cool plasma in the very hot solar corona that can easily be seen as pink structures during total solar eclipses," Labrosse said in the statement.</p><p>"Perhaps for once, the reality is less complicated than what we see!" Brigitte Schmieder, co-author of the study and researcher from the Laboratory of Space Studies and Instrumentation in Astrophysics (LESIA) at l'Observatoire de Paris in France, added in the statement.</p><p>Their findings were presented Friday (April 6) at the European Week of Astronomy and Space Science conference in Liverpool, England. </p><p>This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. ©2018 FOX News Network, LLC. All rights reserved. All market data delayed 20 minutes.</p>
or redistributed. ©2018 FOX News Network, LLC. All rights reserved. All market data delayed 20 minutes.</p><p> An artist's illustration of NASA's Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, which will search for small planets around nearby stars. (NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center) </p><p>TESS is designed to find planets orbiting nearby stars spread across the sky, astrophysicist and pioneering exoplanet researcher Sara Seager at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology told Space.com. The satellite is not specifically intended to look for planets that can support life, but it can find planets orbiting in the habitable zone of small stars, said Seager, who serves as a deputy science director on TESS.</p><p>"Twenty years ago, if you told me that we were going to do this kind of spectroscopy of atmospheres of planets around other stars, I would have said you're crazy," said Latham. "Now, we're doing it."</p><p>On the other hand, scientist may overlook signs of life that is radically different from us. "It's a little bit like the drunk looking for his keys — he looks under the lamppost, because that's where he can see them," Latham said. "We look for life that is similar to our own, because we think we understand the organic chemistry involved and so we think we know how to interpret [evidence for it]."</p><p>Shortly thereafter, scientists began to get enough data to hypothesize that many of those planets might be habitable. Over the past quarter-century, science has increasingly led scientists to believe that the existence of life may not be a miracle after all, Shostak said. And he said he sees no evidence that this trend will stop.</p><p>TESS will lead the way for a wealth of discoveries and deepen our understanding of many phenomena in the cosmos. "There's technical astrophysical issues that will interest a lot of the scientists in the community," said Latham, "but I think that the question that is going to catch the attention of the educated public is this big one: Are we alone?"</p><p>This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. ©2018 FOX News Network, LLC. All rights reserved. All market data delayed 20 minutes.</p>
e of life’s happy-happies, like flowers and fresh fruit. “Report: It Would Probably Be Nice Having Friends,” read a recent headline in The Onion. Ha ha! Of course it’s “kind of fun” and “pretty cool” to “have a few select people in your life to do stuff with on a regular basis.”</p><p>Most people can name at least half a dozen people they view as reasonably good friends. The only society where people don’t have any friends, according to Daniel Hruschka, an evolutionary anthropologist at Arizona State University, is found in the science fiction of C.J. Cherryh’s “Foreigner” series.</p><p>Yet researchers who explore the deep nature of friendship admit the bond can have its thorns, bruise spots and pesticide traces.</p><p>Take the new evidence that people choose friends who resemble themselves, right down to the moment-to-moment pattern of blood flow in the brain. The tendency toward homophily, toward flocking together with birds of your inner and outer feather, gives rise to a harmonious sense of belonging and shared purpose, to easy laughter and volumes of subtext mutually, wordlessly, joyfully understood.</p><p>But homophily, researchers said, is also the basis of tribalism, xenophobia and racism, the urge to “otherize” those who differ from you and your beloved friends in one or more ways.</p><p>The impulse can yield absurd results. One recent study from the University of Michigan had subjects stand outside on a cold winter day and read a brief story about a hiker who was described as either a “left-wing, pro-gay-rights Democrat” or a “right-wing, anti-gay-rights Republican.”</p><p>“Why must it be the case that we love our own and hate the other?” Nicholas Christakis of Yale University said. “I have struggled with this, and read and studied a tremendous amount, and I have mostly dispiriting news. It’s awful. Xenophobia and in-group bias go hand-in-hand.”</p><p>Game theory models predict it, real-life examples confirm it. “In order to band together, we need a common enemy,” Dr. Christakis said.</p><p>Fortunately, he added, no model insists that the out-group must be exterminated or otherwise eliminated from the scene. “It’s possible to treat the out-group with mild dislike or even grudging respect,” he said. “Cultivating in-group distinctiveness does not require that the other must be killed.”</p><p>Nevertheless, even the ordinary business of making friends is an exclusionary act, a judgment call, and therefore threaded with the potential for pain.</p><p>“A friendship is always a little bit of a conspiracy,” said Alexander Nehamas, a professor of philosophy at Princeton. “We two are here, they are over there, and we’re going to do our thing whether they want us to or not.”</p><p>And if they try to join us, we can say, no, sorry, that seat is taken. We’re saving it for a friend.</p><p>Who may not return the favor. Abdullah Almaatouq of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and his colleagues recently showed that people are poor judges of who their friends are.</p><p>Other studies have shown similar discordances or worse, with one survey revealing that 66 percent of supposed friendships were cases of unrequited like.</p><p>The overall rates of friendship conflict did not differ between men and women, but women were more likely to clash with close friends, to express feelings of anguish over the breakup, and to be more demanding of evidence of remorse before reconciling.</p><p>Sure, love may mean never having to say you’re sorry. But friendship is a stricter taskmaster, and sorry may not be enough.</p>