Commuters in the city will be able to get real time bus information in Google maps from Monday.“This is the first launch of real-time transit information for Google Maps in India from today,” a Google statement said here today.Google has teamed up with West Bengal Transport Corporation (WBTC) to add real-time information about bus arrival times for Kolkata on Google Maps, making it easier for people to plan their trips.This service is currently enabled for key WBTC transit routes and is scheduled to be expanded to the remaining routes in the future.“This is yet another attempt to bring smart public transport to Kolkata and to improve the performance of WBTC. We are committed to improve public transport,” state Transport Minister Subhendu Adhikari said.“By sharing the real-time transit information of our buses with Google Maps, we are striving to deliver an enhanced level of service for our commuters. We expect this to help increase the footfall in our buses and improve revenue realisation,” WBTC managing director N S Nigam said.The West Bengal government has already introduced ’Pathadisha’ app of state-run buses in association with World Bank and Korea’s Green Growth fund as development partners.The app allows viewing of real time movement of buses of a location in a map. However, the app is facing bandwidth issues.
A multi-party political delegation from Goa met Union Minister Nitin Gadkari in New Delhi on Monday, urging the Central government to find a way to allow mining to continue in the State.The delegation, led by Public Works Department Minister Sudin Dhavalikar of the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party, included Health Minister Vishwajit Rane of the BJP, Speaker Pramod Sawant and Congress MLA Nilkanth Halarnkar, among other legislators. The Supreme Court, on February 7, cancelled all 88 operational iron ore mining leases in Goa. It directed that amining activity should stop after March 15 and the leases be issued afresh. Loss to StateIn a memorandum submitted to the minister, the delegation said that the mining leases be renewed by 20 years instead of being issued afresh. “We have expressed our concerns to the Union government that re-issuing the mining leases as directed by the Supreme Court will result in stopping of mining activity for more than a year, which is an economic loss for Goa and its people. We have demanded that mining leases be renewed for 20 years instead,” Mr. Halarnkar said. The delegation was expected to meet Union Minister for Mines Narendra Singh Tomar later in the day.
Violence over filing of nominations for panchyat polls in West Bengal continued for the sixth day on Saturday. Clashes between Trinamool Congress supporters and various Opposition parties took place in Birbhum, Murshidabad, Paschim Bardhaman and Uttar Dinajpur districts.CPI(M) MLA and Leader of the Left Legislative Party Sujan Chakraborty was attacked by TMC cadres in Bankura district during the day. “I participated in a rally of Left Front candidates who were on their way to file nominations when armed TMC cadres in collusion with police attacked us. I was also assaulted by them,” Mr. Chakraborty told The Hindu.Superintendent of Police of Bankura Sukhendu Hira, however, said “no one got injured” in the incident.Clashes between supporters of Trinamool Congress and BJP were reported from the Mohammad Bazar area of Birbhum. Large number of BJP workers armed with bows and arrows overpowered TMC supporters and reached Sub Divisional Officer’s office to file nominations. Local television channels showed TMC workers hurling bombs at the BJP cadres who retaliated with arrows.Anuj Sharma, Additional Director General ( Law and Order) said outsiders from Jharkhand were involved in the violence in the border district of Birbhum.Violence was also reported from Kandi in Murshidabad where a Congress rally led by State president and MP Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury was attacked by TMC workers. In Hooghly district’s Arambagh, former All India Forward Bloc (AIFB) MLA Biswanath Karak was heckled and assaulted by TMC cadres when he accompanied AIFB candidates during filing of nominations. Mr. Karak’s face was smeared with black ink.State Election Commissioner A.K. Singh who held a meeting with election observers on Saturday asked them to remain upright and discharge their duties with honesty.
Eight security guards working at a public sector undertaking in Rajasthan’s Hanumangarh district, who were not getting minimum wages despite their long duty hours and overtime, have received arrears for one year following the intervention of the District Legal Services Authority.The contractor who had hired the guards for security and surveillance duties at the District Milk Producers’ Cooperative Federation Limited paid them the arrears of wages to the tune of ₹2.48 lakh on Monday. He was earlier paying them ₹170 a day instead of the daily minimum wages of ₹197 fixed by the State government.The security guards came to know of their legal rights when the Legal Services Authority organised a legal literacy camp on the federation’s premises on May Day this year. Legal experts explained the laws for labourers’ protection and provided details of the State government’s welfare schemes for labourers on the occasion.Illegal actTwo days after the camp, one of the security guards, Lakshman Singh, went to the authority’s office and informed the officers there that he and his colleagues were being paid an amount less than the minimum wages. “Moreover, the contractor was forcing them to sign in his register on a higher amount of money, which was clearly an illegal act,” the Legal Services Authority’s Secretary Asha Chaudhary said.When Ms. Chaudhary sought an explanation from the federation’s managing director, he wrote back that full wages were being paid to the security guards. Not satisfied with his reply as the guards had produced papers to prove their case, Ms. Chaudhary wrote back to the MD, asking him to probe into the case.Following the inquiry, contractor Gajendra Singh came to the authority’s office and offered full wages and arrears for the period between May 2016 and April 2017 to the security guards, while admitting his mistake. The guards were Lakshman Singh, Naib Singh, Dharam Singh, Kana Ram, Bhagwan Singh, Indra Dev, Mukhesh Kumar and Dalip Kumar.
The National Conference has decided not to take part in the recently announced local body polls in Jammu and Kashmir, alleging a nefarious attempt to roll back Article 35A. It, however, left a small window open if the Centre took active steps to defend Article 35 A, which gives the State legislature the right to decide who are permanent residents to confer on them special rights. The core group of the NC took the decision at a meeting chaired by Farooq Abdullah.
Election Commissioner Ashok Lavasa on Saturday reviewed the preparations in Goa for the Lok Sabha elections next year and also launched an “Accessible Election Plan for Goa” to make it disabled-friendly. Speaking to press persons after meeting officials of the Chief Electoral Office (CEO) here, Mr. Lavasa said most of the preparatory work in the two Lok Sabha constituencies in Goa was complete. The officials, he said, were also trying to generate an awareness among voters related to poll procedure and familiarise them with any new changes in the existing voting mechanism. “The objective is to involve the community and people at large, to make them understand various procedures. If there are changes that have taken place in the procedures, familiarise them and see if the stakeholders including the political parties, are satisfied,” Mr. Lavasa said. The CEO Kunal, said the Accessible Election Plan for Goa contains deadlines for completion of various accessibility measures and works. The Election Commission has been putting in place across the country measures to make elections most accessible based on the guidelines from the Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disability, Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, Government of India. Meanwhile, Avelino De Sa, president of Disability Rights Association of Goa (DRAG) said, “We are happy that Mr. Lavasaa has launched the accessible plan, but also very disappointed that the disability sector in Goa was not consulted when formulating the plan.”“Chief Electoral Officer, Goa has to take the NGOs in the disability sector into confidence when working on accessible elections if he wants our support. We are also very disappointed that the Office of the CEO,Goa is still not accessible for persons with disability(PswD) even after two years. This shows their commitment towards PswD. We hope the CEO will take accessibility for PswD more seriously and work towards an accessible election with the cooperation of NGOs in the disability sector in Goa,” said Mr. de Sa in a statement here.Mr. Kunal told The Hindu that the office of CEO cannot be said to be inaccessible, but it needs to be made accessible as per set standards. “The work has been assigned to State Public Works Department and will be completed before National Voters’ Day (January 25),” he said.
The Amravati police on Thursday granted permission to Chandrashekhar Azad ‘Ravan’, the chief of the Uttar Pradesh-based Bhim Army, to hold a public meeting in Pune on January 4.The event, to be held in Science Core grounds, will be the Bhim Army’s chief’s first public address in Maharashtra following cancellations of his public addresses in Mumbai, Pune and Latur.Mr. Azad’s previous engagements were quashed owing to heightened security before the 201st anniversary of the Bhima-Koregaon battle in Pune district.Confirming the development, Sanjaykumar Baviskar, Amravati Police Commissioner told The Hindu that while the police had acceded to the Bhim Army’s request of letting Mr. Azad address a public meeting, no permission was given to any rally to be staged on part of the outfit.“We have given sanction only for the public address and not for any rally on part of Bhim Army members in Amravati city. And naturally, we shall be monitoring his [Mr. Azad’s] speech to ensure that no socially divisive or provocative statements are uttered during the address,” said Commissioner Baviskar.The event is slated to be held after 1 p.m. on Friday.Since Mr. Azad’s entry in Maharashtra on December 28, the state administration and security apparatus have been ill-disposed to the fiery Ambedkarite leader’s public engagements given the fraught atmosphere prevailing in Pune in the run-up to the 201st anniversary of the battle of Bhima- Koregaon.Anxious to preclude any law and order incident that may arise due to Mr. Azad’s addresses, Maharashtra Home department and the police had cancelled his meetings in Mumbai on December 28, in Pune on December 30 and in Latur on January 2.Mr. Azad was detained in his Mumbai hotel while hundreds of Bhim Army members were taken into preventive custody by the Mumbai police last week.On December 31, the Bombay High Court had denied permission to Mr. Azad’s slated address on the ‘Bhima-Koregaon Sangharsh Mahasabha’ at the Pune’s SSPMS grounds.However, Mr. Azad did visit the obelisk commemorating the Bhima-Koregaon battle at Perne on January 1 on occasion of the traditional anniversary celebrations of the battle.Likewise, denied permission to make a speech in Latur city, Mr. Azad merely paid homage to the statue of Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar and departed the spot of his proposed public meeting.
A second Delhi High Court judge on Wednesday recused from the disproportionate assets case against former Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh and his wife, expressing displeasure at the couple’s lawyer.Justice Najmi Waziri was irked at Mr. Singh’s counsel who insisted on putting the case for hearing later in the day as senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, who was to argue for the former Chief Minister, was busy in another court.As Mr. Singh’s counsel persisted, Justice Waziri said there was no urgency in the matter as personal liberty of the couple had not been affected and that it can be heard on another date.‘Don’t throw names’“Do not throw names at me. Why should I hear it today? What is so special about it? It is not a matter about personal liberty… Counsel should know what to say and what not to say. I will not hear the matter. List before another Bench,” Justice Waziri said.New BenchThe judge listed the case before another Bench on February 6. The Congress veteran and his wife Pratibha Singh have challenged a trial court order to frame charges against them in the case.The case came up before Justice Waziri on Wednesday for the first time after Justice Mukta Gupta had recused from hearing the matter on January 24 without specifying any reason.
With a recent Supreme Court order triggering panic among forest dwellers over possible eviction, Odisha’s Dongria Kondh tribals have resolved to resist any attempt to force them out.The tribe shot into the limelight for their successful resistance against the Vedanta Group’s plan to mine bauxite in the ecologically and mineral-rich Niyamgiri hill range. The Dongria Kondh are currently holding their annual ‘Niyamraja festival’ on the picturesque hilltop of Niyamgiri. The issue of possible eviction of tribals, whose applications for regularisation under the Forest Rights Act (FRA), 2006, had been rejected, came up for discussion at the festival.The Dongria Kondh’s habitations dot the Niyamgiri hills in Kalahandi and Rayagada districts.As per official records of the distribution of titles under FRA, 562 claims were received from 591 households under the Kutia Kandh Development Agency, Lanjigarh. Gram Sabhas had approved all 562. However, 310 claims involving 313.80 acres were approved by the District Level Committee and certificate of titles were distributed. Under Dongria Kondh Development Agency, Chatikona and Dongria Kondh Development Agency, Parsoli, of 2,126 applications, Gram Sabhas approved 1,895. All applications were approved by DLC and certificates involving 3,088 acres of land were distributed. The rights sought by the Dongria Kondh have not been met, says Niyamgiri Surakshya Samiti, and it fears that the government might push its mining agenda in the future.
Twenty employees of Beed District Civil Hospital in Maharashtra have been dismissed from service for submitting fake certificates of being the offspring of freedom fighters in order to get jobs under the reserved category, an official said on Friday.The government’s dismissal order came after the Maharashtra Administrative Tribunal (MAT) gave its ruling last year, in which it confirmed that the certificates submitted by these 20 employees were bogus.“Twenty employees- seventeen class IV and three class III- were dismissed from service with effect from today (March 1). The government issued their dismissal order on Thursday,” district civil surgeon Dr. Ashok Thorat said.In 2004, these employees had produced bogus certificates of being sons or daughters of freedom fighters in order to get a job in Beed district hospital, he said.
Traders and politicians in Kashmir have criticised the government over the sudden suspension of cross-Line of Control trade, which the government said had been triggered by issues including illegal trade of U.S.-origin California almonds, funneling of counterfeit currency, and the funding and promotion of terror groups and anti-India operations though the trade.“I sold my sole shop in 2011 to invest in the cross-LoC trade. I have two school-going kids. We are now clueless about returns and the settlement of bills. After investing eight years in this trade, where can I invest now?” asked Muhammad Tariq Khan, one of 229 full-time cross- LoC traders who said they have been rendered unemployed overnight.Hilal Turkey, chairman of the Cross-LoC Trade Body, termed the government decision “unfortunate,” saying the trade volume in the past one decade has touched ₹6,000 crore since 2008 when the twin routes — at Uri’s Salamabad in Baramulla, and Chakkan-da-Bagh in Poonch — were opened.“There is no denying the fact about drug trafficking incidents. Three traders are already booked and six locals arrested in such cases. Instead of stopping the trade, we always demanded a foolproof mechanism. Nowhere in the world trade is stopped merely on the issues of vulnerability. The blame lies on the regulators of the trade,” Mr. Turkey told The Hindu.“The trade route has created 1.70 lakh job days so far. We hired services of 6,170 trucks and hundreds of labourers are involved directly. The move will only contribute to unemployment and desperation,” he added.Sources in the Ministry of Home Affairs said on Friday the government was particularly alarmed by the case of U.S.-origin California almonds, which was not just a violation of the barter arrangement but also was under-invoiced to provide funds to anti-national elements and terrorist organisations in the Valley to fuel anti-India operations. Listing the reasons for the move, the MHA sources said they included the problem of goods being traded from other countries like the U.S., channelling of funds for terror groups like the Hizbul Mujahideen, drug trade, smuggling arms and ammunition and pumping in fake currency notes. The MHA sources said former president of the LoC traders association Zahoor Ahmed Watali, chargesheeted by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) for funding terror activity, was involved in “illegal activity on the twin trade routes.” The Enforcement Directorate has already attached Mr. Watali’s property.The sources indicated that the trade was “only suspended and not cancelled permanently.” “The government will revisit the issue of resuming trade after stricter measures are put in place,”“ they said.‘Regressive move’In Srinagar, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the Hurriyat denounced the Centre’s move.“When I was Chief Minister, there was pressure to wind up the trade but I resisted. Opening routes are only way to resolve the problem. Unfortunately, we are going backwards,” alleged PDP president Mehbooba Mufti.At his Friday sermon, Hurriyat chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq said, “Even whatever little had been achieved since the Vajpayee time, is being blocked and stopped. Such measures for short term gains come at a huge price for people.”(With inputs from Suhasini Haidar)
Things are heating up in the world of genetics. The hot pepper (Capsicum annuum) is one of the most widely grown spice crops globally, playing an important role in many medicines, makeups, and meals worldwide. Although the plant’s so-called capsaicin chemical is well known for spicing things up, until now the genetic spark responsible for the pepper’s pungency was unknown. A team of scientists recently completed the first high-quality reference genome for the hot pepper. Comparing the pepper’s genome with that of its tame cousin, the tomato, the scientists discovered the gene responsible for fiery capsaicin production appeared in both plants. While the tomato carried four nonfunctioning copies of the gene, the hot pepper carried seven nonfunctioning copies and one functioning copy, the team reports online today in Nature Genetics. The researchers believe the pepper’s capsaicin-creating gene appeared after five mutations occurred during DNA replication, with the final mutation creating a functional copy. The mouth-burning chemicals likely protected the mutant pepper’s seeds from grazing land animals millions of years ago, giving the mutant a reproductive advantage and helping the mutant gene spread. The team says the finding could help breeders boost the pepper’s heat, nutrition, and medicinal properties. One researcher even suggests that geneticists could activate one of the tomato’s dormant genes, enabling capsaicinoid production and creating a plant that makes ready-made salsa.See more ScienceShots.Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)
On Friday the 13th in April 2029, an asteroid named Apophis is expected to pass, with luck, within a hair’s breadth of Earth. The space rock, about as wide as three football fields, won’t do any damage to Earth—it’s predicted to pass at a safe distance of at least 35,000 kilometers—but the reverse may not be true. A new study finds that the near miss could trigger tiny avalanches on Apophis.“It’s a difficult topic, but this paper looks to me like one of the best jobs done on Apophis to date,” says William Bottke, a planetary scientist at the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado, who was not involved in the study.If asteroids pass close to Earth, they begin to experience the effects of our planet’s gravity. Just like the moon pushes and pulls the oceans, creating the tides, asteroids are susceptible to tidal forces from our planet. To judge what effect this will have on Apophis, scientists need to know what it’s made of. Their best guess is based on photos taken by a Japanese spacecraft named Hayabusa, which took detailed pictures of an Apophis-sized asteroid named Itokawa. Those images revealed that the asteroid wasn’t a solid mass of rock spinning through space, but rather a giant clump of debris held together loosely by gravity. “You look at the [Hayabusa] pictures and you’re like, ‘Uh, that’s a pile of rocks, dude.’ It’s very likely that Apophis is similar,” says astrophysicist Derek Richardson of the University of Maryland, College Park.Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)To show that Earth’s gravity could cause some of these rocks to tumble, Richardson and his colleagues developed a computer model that allowed them to place virtual sand piles across the surface of a model asteroid with roughly the same dimensions as Apophis. By factoring in the gravity from the asteroid, the tidal force from Earth, centrifugal force caused by the asteroid’s rotation, inertial forces, and other effects, the team was able to predict how the particles on the surface of the asteroid would behave on approach. The results confirm that Earth’s tidal forces would be strong enough to cause tiny avalanches on the asteroid, the team reported online ahead of print in Icarus.Astronomers aren’t in for much of a show, however. The avalanches are so small that they’d be hard to see even if you were standing on Apophis’s surface, Richardson says. They would also be incredibly sluggish. “They’d move very slowly because the gravity is so weak on this asteroid. You could literally have lunch before the avalanche stopped moving,” he says. “This is a very gentle, distant encounter.”Still, the perturbations might be enough to keep Apophis looking young. Most asteroid aging is caused by exposure to the sun, and therefore affects only exposed surfaces. Like a spa treatment, the tiny avalanches exfoliate the surface particles and replace the aged-out layer with fresh ones from below.To know for certain whether this happens, astronomers will need to observe Apophis during its 2029 pass. Scientists age asteroids by surveying infrared light; older, weathered rocks tend to appear more reddish in these observations. If a high-quality spectrum can be obtained during the approach, it should be possible to compare the color of Apophis before and after its flyby, Bottke says. “When [Apophis] makes its pass, we’ll get to run the experiment. Whether it’s all solved or not we’ll have to find out.”“Through this paper, we’re hoping to encourage observers to make this observation,” Richardson says. This might be their only chance, too; Apophis is expected to return again in 2036, but estimates have it missing by a whopping 9100 Earth radii—well outside of the range of Earth’s tidal influence.*Correction, 29 October, 12:31 p.m.: The width of Apophis, in relation to the size of a football field, has been corrected.
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