Why You Should Wake Up Early Every Morning, According to Science

<SUNBIGHT>~Psychology~Eke~11th April,2022 @ 01:48 WAT

“Wake up early every day so that while others are dreaming, you can make your dreams come true.” – Hal Elrod

WAKING up early is no easy task. Apart from those few lucky “morning people,” most individuals would probably agree they don’t like having to wake up early. And you might be one of these individuals.

But did you know that there are countless benefits to being an early riser? As it turns out, to wake up early is to do yourself a favor. There are almost no limits to the positive things it can do for your mind and body.

This isn’t just a random statement. Science has backed the act of rising early for years. Even if it makes you groan, give waking up early a try and you might be surprised! Here’s why you should wake up early every morning, according to science.

10 Reasons Why You Should Wake Up Early Every Morning, According To Science

1.    There’s peace, quiet, and silence

According to this study on NCBI, when you wake up early, you’re up before the rest of the world is. There are no honking horns from traffic. There are no sounds of music or loud voices. You basically have a nice, quiet moment to yourself – something super valuable in our hectic lives.

You have this moment to really hear your thoughts. If you wake up early enough, you have the time to breathe and relax. Let yourself wake up as you read a book or simply sit in silence. Look out the window and admire the world, or use the time to meditate.

Having this moment of quiet solitude isn’t just about chilling out. Silent moments are actually highly beneficial for the brain and body. They help to:

  • Increase oxygen levels in the brain
  • Reduce blood pressure
  • Lessen migraines
  • Boost mental health

Just a short amount of quiet can provide numerous positives to your overall health – a perfect reason to wake up early.

2.    You get to plan and organize your day

When you don’t wake up early, you’re constantly rushing through the morning. You barely have time to stop and think, much less draw out a daily plan or to-do list.

Being organized is important for productivity and stress management. If you know what you’re going to do for the rest of the day, you’ll be in the right headspace to accomplish these tasks. Without a to-do list, you’re also more likely to forget important things.

By waking up early, you’re setting time aside to write down a list of daily tasks. This will allow you to approach them more easily and keep them in mind, even amidst tiring distractions. Set some daily goals or just take 10 minutes to scribble out a plan for errands. It’ll make you less stressed and more productive.

3.    When you wake up early, you have time for breakfast

When you get up late, you don’t have time to cook a nutritious breakfast. Instead, you grab a sandwich, a cereal stuffed with sugar, or, worse still, just settle for a quick drink.

Breakfast is a very important meal and should not be skipped or minimized with unhealthy food. Having a healthy meal first thing in the morning can set a precedent for your wellbeing the rest of the day. It can even stop you from eating junk food!

Here are all the positive effects of a good breakfast, thus why waking up early is important:

  • Kick-starts your metabolism so you’re better at burning calories
  • Helps you focus
  • Provides much-needed energy
  • Lowers levels of negative cholesterol
  • Reduces risk of heart disease and diabetes
  • Reduces chances of being overweight
  • Ensures healthy bodily rhythm
  • Provides better mood and positive thinking

The benefits of eating nutritiously from the get-go are unparalleled. You’d be surprised just how much eating well first thing in the morning can improve your life!

4.    You’ll have better brain function

If you’re feeling foggy throughout the day, you might need to set your alarm earlier. According to a biology professor named Christopher Randler, who works at Heidelberg, Germany’s University of Education, to wake up early is to help your brain function.

People who wake up earlier enjoy better critical thinking and problem-solving skills. They tend to be more creative, funnier, and even engage with work much more easily thanks to a boost in concentration and memory.

This means you’ll perform better at work and maybe even act more outgoing. So if you’ve been gunning for a promotion for a while, setting your alarm to ring earlier might get you where you want to go!

5.    Waking up early provides more energy

You might generally feel groggy when you wake up in the morning. All you have to do to change that is to shift your sleep and wake times earlier. It doesn’t sound like it’d work, but it definitely does!

Shifting these schedules earlier helps you to get better sleep, which we’ll talk about later. Here’s what you need to know: entering deep-sleep cycles provides restorative benefits. Going to sleep and waking up earlier can help you to sink into these stages more easily.

Here’s an idea of what happens in deep sleep cycles:

  • Increased blood supply in muscles
  • Tissue repair
  • Bone repair
  • Cellular corrections
  • Release of growth hormones to build muscle
  • Lowered blood pressure
  • Relaxation of the body

It’s pretty obvious that these benefits are crucial to daily health. For you to feel refreshed and restored every morning, you need more deep sleep. For better deep sleep, you need to sleep and wake earlier – simple as that.

6.    There’s a chance it’ll make you more attractive

Looks aren’t everything. But if that’s something you care about, you could improve your appearance if you sleep and wake up early. The more tired you appear, the less attractive you’ll be perceived, according to a study by the University of Stockholm. And of course, sleeping and waking late make you feel and look more tired.

There’s another factor that could contribute to this, too. Because the first few morning hours are so important, people who wake up early are likely to have lower body mass indices. Of course, people of all sizes can be attractive, but if you’re aiming to bust fat, waking up early may be the way to go.

7.    Waking up early has links to good grades

Still a student? Many students burn the midnight oil and sleep in for hours whenever they can spare the time. But reversing this and starting to wake up early can actually be better for your grades! At least, that’s what studies across Europe and America say in regards to students in university.

These studies simply found that those who wake up earlier get consistently higher grades. They also tend to have a higher average GPA. This is likely due to better time management, but it can also be because of how early risers tend to have better concentration and focus.

As aforementioned, those who wake up early tend to have better critical thinking skills – also crucial to college students.

8.    You’ll sleep better

People who need to get up early need to better plan their sleep routines. This allows them to have steady, reliable sleeping schedules that they follow to the letter. They often sleep at the same early time daily, then rise at the same time, too.

It seems like a logical conclusion: if you sleep early and wake up early, better sleep is on the horizon. If you keep a good, steady sleep routine that doesn’t change often, you’re teaching your body’s internal clock to operate on specific times.

Once this internal clock is trained to your new routine, it will run in your favor. You’ll be sleepy when you want to be and wide awake when you need to be. You’ll also be able to wake up more naturally and without that groggy feeling. So skip sleeping in on weekends and stick to the same bed and wake times for best results.

9.    You’re more productive when you wake up early

A study published in the Journal of General Psychology in 2008 revealed that those who wake up early procrastinate less than those who burn the midnight oil and wake up late. Many morning people tend to be more disciplined and focused, which contributes to this productivity.

Plenty of studies detail how early risers have a tendency to be more agreeable and cooperative. This can allow for more work to be done since you’re a better team player. Those who wake up early also tend to be more persistent than others, so they are more determined to complete tasks.

Here are some of the other ways being an early riser can boost your overall productivity:

  • Your brain is recharged and primed for work
  • You start your day with less distractions, so you get more done
  • You can plan your day easily
  • You have more energy for tasks
  • You’ll be in a better mood

In short, if you have trouble hitting your daily goals, you might want to consider waking up early.

10. Your mental health and positive thinking will soar

Waking up early does you a lot of benefits, but the largest is probably on mental health. Sleeping too much by not waking up early can even put you at a higher risk for developing depression. The same goes for other mental illnesses and disorders.

A study published in the Cognitive Therapy and Research journal revealed that those who sleep later and wake up earlier are at risk of developing negative thoughts. These can often be overwhelming for those individuals.

If you find yourself lying awake at night with bad thoughts flooding your head, it may be time to readjust your sleeping patterns. Waking up early – and therefore sleeping earlier daily – can provide the relief you need.

Final Thoughts On Why You Should Wake Up Early Every Morning

It isn’t easy to wake up early each and every single morning. But with science proving that it provides so many positive results, it can’t be all bad. As a matter of fact, it may completely transform your everyday life.

While not everyone is able to wake up early, if you can, it’s certainly worth giving a try. With a little effort and some routine changes, you’ll be well on your way to enjoying these incredible, scientifically-proven benefits of waking up early.■

A secret operation: Mossad tricked top Iranian scientists into blowing up their own nuclear plant

<SUNBIGHT>~Middle East~Eke~11th February, 2022 @ 15:16 WAT

EARLIER this year, in April, Israel’s intelligence agency Mossad recruited top Iranian scientists and tricked them to believe that they were working for international dissident groups, in order to carry a secret operation that involved blowing up their own nuclear plant.

A report by the Jewish Chronicle reveals that up to ten scientists were hired to destroy the Natanz nuclear facility.

This revelation comes as one of three acts of sabotages which were allegedly linked with Mossad when the Natanz facility was first hit by explosives.

The operation resulted in the demolition of nearly 90 per cent of the centrifuges at the nuclear plant. This put up the key complex out of use for a period of nine months.

This was done by smuggling explosives into the compound using a drone. These drones were then collected by the scientists. Several explosives were also smuggled into the high-security facility through food boxes and lorries. 

Various other revelations by the Jewish Chronicle involves Mossad spies hiding explosives in building materials which were used in the construction of the Natanz centrifuge in 2019.

There are also report of agents seeking an armed quadcopter. 

Reportedly, there was also a third operation in June. During this an explosion took place by a quadcopter drone on the Iran Centrifuge Technology Company. 

The Jewish Chronicle claims that these three operations were planned in a time span of over 18 months. It involved a team of 1,000 technicians, spies and several agents on the ground.■

[Courtesy: WION]

New planet ‘ Proxima d’ found close to Earth

<SUNBIGHT>~Space~Eke~11th February,2022 @ 09:15 WAT

SCIENTISTS have found a new planet in our closest neighbouring planetary system.

The new alien world, named Proxima d, is the third found in the system. It is also one of the lightest exoplanets ever found, with just a quarter of the mass of the Earth.

The planet orbits around Proxima Centauri, the closest star to our own Sun. It is a relatively short four light-years away.

The first of its planets, named Proxima b, caused a stir when it was discovered in 2016. As well as being near to us, that Earth-sized planet was especially exciting because it could potentially be habitable: it has a temperature suitable for liquid water and a rocky surface.

The new planet is not quite so welcoming. It orbits between the star and the habitable area, too close to have liquid water and close enough to its star that a year lasts only five days on Earth.

Further research could reveal even more planets hiding inside the system, the researchers behind the new discovery suggest.

“The discovery shows that our closest stellar neighbour seems to be packed with interesting new worlds, within reach of further study and future exploration,” said João Faria, a researcher at the Instituto de Astrofísica e Ciências do Espaço, Portugal.

Faria is the lead author on a study describing the findings, titled ‘A candidate short-period sub-Earth orbiting Proxima Centauri’ and published today in Astronomy & Astrophysics.

Researchers were able to work out the size of the newly-discovered planet using the radial velocity technique. That watches for the tiny movements in stars caused by the gravity of the planets, and uses that to work out their mass.

It is the smallest planet to have been measured using that technique. Scientists using the Espresso instrument on the Very Large Telescope watched as the planet moved the star only a tiny amount: pulling it back and forth at about 40 centimetres per hour.

“This achievement is extremely important,” says Pedro Figueira, ESPRESSO instrument scientist at ESO in Chile.

“It shows that the radial velocity technique has the potential to unveil a population of light planets, like our own, that are expected to be the most abundant in our galaxy and that can potentially host life as we know it.”■

[Courtesy: Andrew GRIFFIN/ Independent UK]

North Korea Hacked Him. So He Took Down Its Internet

<SUNBIGHT>~U.S/ North Korea~Eke~6th February,2022.

Disappointed with the lack of US response to the Hermit Kingdom’s attacks against US security researchers, one hacker took matters into his own hands.


FOR the past two weeks, observers of North Korea’s strange and tightly restricted corner of the internet began to notice that the country seemed to be dealing with some serious connectivity problems. On several different days, practically all of its websites—the notoriously isolated nation only has a few dozen—intermittently dropped offline en masse, from the booking site for its Air Koryo airline to Naenara, a page that serves as the official portal for dictator Kim Jong-un’s government. At least one of the central routers that allow access to the country’s networks appeared at one point to be paralyzed, crippling the Hermit Kingdom’s digital connections to the outside world. 

Some North Korea watchers pointed out that the country had just carried out a series of missile tests, implying that a foreign government’s hackers might have launched a cyberattack against the rogue state to tell it to stop saber-rattling. 

But responsibility for North Korea’s ongoing internet outages doesn’t lie with US Cyber Command or any other state-sponsored hacking agency.

In fact, it was the work of one American man in a T-shirt, pajama pants, and slippers, sitting in his living room night after night, watching Alien movies and eating spicy corn snacks—and periodically walking over to his home office to check on the progress of the programs he was running to disrupt the internet of an entire country.

Just over a year ago, an independent hacker who goes by the handle P4x was himself hacked by North Korean spies. P4x was just one victim of a hacking campaign that targeted Western security researchers with the apparent aim of stealing their hacking tools and details about software vulnerabilities.

He says he managed to prevent those hackers from swiping anything of value from him. But he nonetheless felt deeply unnerved by state-sponsored hackers targeting him personally—and by the lack of any visible response from the US government.

So after a year of letting his resentment simmer, P4x has taken matters into his own hands. “It felt like the right thing to do here. If they don’t see we have teeth, it’s just going to keep coming,” says the hacker.

(P4x spoke to WIRED and shared screen recordings to verify his responsibility for the attacks but declined to use his real name for fear of prosecution or retaliation.) “I want them to understand that if you come at us, it means some of your infrastructure is going down for a while.”

P4x says he’s found numerous known but unpatched vulnerabilities in North Korean systems that have allowed him to singlehandedly launch “denial-of-service” attacks on the servers and routers the country’s few internet-connected networks depend on.

For the most part, he declined to publicly reveal those vulnerabilities, which he argues would help the North Korean government defend against his attacks. But he named, as an example, a known bug in the web server software NginX that mishandles certain HTTP headers, allowing the servers that run the software to be overwhelmed and knocked offline.

He also alluded to finding “ancient” versions of the web server software Apache, and says he’s started to examine North Korea’s own national homebrew operating system, known as Red Star OS, which he described as an old and likely vulnerable version of Linux.

P4x says he has largely automated his attacks on the North Korean systems, periodically running scripts that enumerate which systems remain online and then launching exploits to take them down. “For me, this is like the size of a small-to-medium pentest,” P4x says, using the abbreviation for a “penetration test,” the sort of whitehat hacking he’s carried out in the past to reveal vulnerabilities in a client’s network. “It’s pretty interesting how easy it was to actually have some effect in there.”

Those relatively simple hacking methods have had immediate effects. Records from the uptime-measuring service Pingdom show that at several points during P4x’s hacking, almost every North Korean website was down. (Some of those that stayed up, like the news site Uriminzokkiri.com, are based outside the country.)

Junade Ali, a cybersecurity researcher who monitors the North Korean internet, says he began to observe what appeared to be mysterious, mass-scale attacks on the country’s internet starting two weeks ago and has since closely tracked the attacks without having any idea who was carrying them out.

Ali says he saw key routers for the country go down at times, taking with them not only access to the country’s websites but also to its email and any other internet-based services. “As their routers fail, it would literally then be impossible for data to be routed into North Korea,” Ali says, describing the result as “effectively a total internet outage affecting the country.”

(P4x notes that while his attacks at times disrupted all websites hosted in the country and access from abroad to any other internet services hosted there, they didn’t cut off North Koreans’ outbound access to the rest of the internet.)

As rare as it may be for a single pseudonymous hacker to cause an internet blackout on that scale, it’s far from clear what real effects the attacks have had on the North Korean government. Only a tiny fraction of North Koreans have access to internet-connected systems to begin with, says Martyn Williams, a researcher for the Stimson Center think tank’s North Korea-focused 38 North Project.

The vast majority of residents are confined to the country’s disconnected intranet. Williams says the dozens of sites P4x has repeatedly taken down are largely used for propaganda and other functions aimed at an international audience.

While knocking out those sites no doubt presents a nuisance to some regime officials, Williams points out that the hackers who targeted P4x last year—like almost all the country’s hackers—are almost certainly based in other countries, such as China.

“I would say, if he’s going after those people, he’s probably directing his attentions to the wrong place,” says Williams. “But if he just wants to annoy North Korea, then he is probably being annoying.”

For his part, P4x says he would count annoying the regime as a success, and that the vast majority of the country’s population that lacks internet access was never his target. “I definitely wanted to affect the people as little as possible and the government as much as possible,” P4x says.

He acknowledges that his attacks amount to no more than “tearing down government banners or defacing buildings,” as he puts it. But he also says that his hacking has so far focused on testing and probing to find vulnerabilities.

He now intends to try actually hacking into North Korean systems, he says, to steal information and share it with experts. At the same time, he’s hoping to recruit more hacktivists to his cause with a dark website he launched Monday called the FUNK Project—i.e. “FU North Korea”—in the hopes of generating more collective firepower. 

“This is a project to keep North Korea honest,” the FUNK Project site reads. “You can make a difference as one person. The goal is to perform proportional attacks and information-gathering in order to keep NK from hacking the western world completely unchecked.”

P4x says his hacktivist efforts are meant to send a message not only to the North Korean government, but also his own. His cyberattacks on North Korean networks are, he says, in part an attempt to draw attention to what he sees as a lack of government response to North Korean targeting of US individuals. “If no one ’s going to help me, I’m going to help myself,” he says.

P4x knows the exact moment last year when he was hit by North Korea’s spies. In late January of 2021, he opened a file sent to him by a fellow hacker, who had described it as an exploitation tool.

Just 24 hours later, he spotted a blog post from Google Threat Analysis Group warning that North Korean hackers were targeting security researchers.

Sure enough, when P4x scrutinized the hacking tool he’d received from a stranger, he saw that it contained a backdoor designed to provide a remote foothold on his computer.

P4x had opened the file in a virtual machine, digitally quarantining it from the rest of his system. But he was nonetheless shocked and appalled by the realization that he’d been personally targeted by North Korea. 

P4x says he was later contacted by the FBI but was never offered any real help to assess the damage from North Korea’s hacking or to protect himself in the future. Nor did he ever hear of any consequences for the hackers who targeted him, an open investigation into them, or even a formal recognition from a US agency that North Korea was responsible. It began to feel, as he put it, like “there’s really nobody on our side.” 

When WIRED asked the FBI about its response to the North Korean targeting of US security researchers, it responded in a statement: “As the lead agency responsible for threat response we rely on the public and private sector to report suspicious activity and intrusions, and work together to ensure we understand what’s happening, prevent it from happening to others, and hold those responsible accountable,” the FBI statement reads. “The FBI is committed to pursuing the malicious actors and countries behind cyberattacks, and will not tolerate intellectual property theft or intimidation.”

After his experience as a target of state-sponsored cyberespionage, P4x spent much of the next year on other projects. But after a year had passed, still without public or private statements from the federal government about the targeting of security researchers and no offer of support from any US agency, P4x says he decided it was time to make his own statement to both the North Korean and American governments. 

Other hackers targeted by North Korea don’t all agree that P4x’s hacking spree is the right way to make that statement.

Dave Aitel, a former NSA hacker and the founder of security firm Immunity, was similarly targeted in the same espionage campaign. But he questions whether P4x has taken a productive approach to getting even, given that he may actually be getting in the way of stealthier intelligence efforts targeting the same North Korean computers. 

“I would not want to disrupt real Western intelligence efforts that are already in place on those machines, assuming there is anything of value there,” Aitel says. 

Aitel agrees, though, that the government response to North Korea’s campaign has been lacking. He says he never received any contact from a government agency and lays the blame for that silence specifically at the feet of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency. “This is one of the biggest balls CISA, in particular, has dropped,” Aitel says. “The United States is good at protecting the government, OK at protecting corporations, but does not protect individuals.”

He points out that many of the targeted security researchers likely had significant access to software vulnerabilities, enterprise networks, and the code of widely used tools. That could result, he says, in “the next SolarWinds.” 

When WIRED reached out to CISA, a spokesperson responded in a statement that the agency “is committed to supporting the cybersecurity community in detecting and protecting against malicious cyber actors,” adding that “as part of this work, we encourage any researcher that is being targeted by cyber threats to contact the US government so we can provide all possible assistance.”

US government criticisms aside, P4x is clear that his hacking aims primarily to send a message to the Kim regime, which he describes as carrying out “insane human rights abuses and complete control over their population.” While he acknowledges that his attacks likely violate US computer fraud and hacking laws, he argues he hasn’t done anything ethically wrong. “My conscience is clear,” he says.

And what’s the final goal of his cyberattacks on that totalitarian government’s internet infrastructure? When will he end them? 

“Regime change. No, I’m just kidding,” P4x says with a laugh. “I just want to prove a point. I want that point to be very squarely proven before I stop.”■

[Courtesy: Andy GREENBERG// Wired]

Laser defense system will be ready to intercept missiles in a year -Bennett

<SUNBIGHT>~Israel~Eke~6th February,2022.

THE laser system will protect Israel from missiles, rockets, drones and other threats.

Israel will surround itself with a defensive “laser wall,” with new missile interception technology to be ready within a year, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett announced in a speech at the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv on Tuesday.

The IDF will begin using the laser interception system in the next year, first experimentally and later operationally, starting in the South.

“This will allow us, in the medium- to long-term, to surround Israel with a laser wall that will defend us from missiles, rockets, UAVs and other threats that will essentially take away the strongest card our enemies have against us,” Bennett said.

The Defense Ministry successfully intercepted drones with the powerful airborne laser system installed on light aircraft in June. The system downed several UAVs at a range of one kilometer with a 100% success rate. The ministry intends to build a laser with a power of 100 kilowatts that will have an effective range of 20 km.

“This will allow us, in the medium- to long-term, to surround Israel with a laser wall that will defend us from missiles, rockets, UAVs and other threats that will essentially take away the strongest card our enemies have against us,” Bennett said.

The Defense Ministry successfully intercepted drones with the powerful airborne laser system installed on light aircraft in June. The system downed several UAVs at a range of one kilometer with a 100% success rate. The ministry intends to build a laser with a power of 100 kilowatts that will have an effective range of 20 km.

“This equation doesn’t make sense,” the prime minister stated. “It allows [the terrorists] to launch more and more Kassams and for us to shed many millions on a ‘lightning strike’ and billions during a campaign. We decided to break the equation, and it will be broken in only a few years.”

At that point, Bennett said, Israel’s enemies “will invest a lot, and we will [invest] a little. If you can intercept a missile or rocket with an electric pulse that costs a few dollars, we are weakening the ring of fire that Iran has built on our borders.”

Israel will offer the laser technology to its regional allies that are also facing threats from Iran and its proxies, the prime minister said.

Bennett repeated his comparison of Iran to an octopus, sending its tentacles – proxies – to wreak havoc throughout the Middle East, and growing stronger all the time.

“The campaign to weaken Iran has begun,” he said. “This campaign is in all dimensions: nuclear, economic, cyber, open and secret actions, alone and in cooperation with others. The weaker Iran is, the weaker its proxies are. The hungrier the octopus is, the more its tentacles shrivel.”

Bennett expressed hope that the nuclear talks between world powers and Iran “will end without an agreement, because that agreement is bad for Israel.”

“Removing sanctions and flooding the [Iranian] regime with billions of dollars means more rockets, more UAVs, more terrorist cells, more cyberattacks and propaganda operations,” he said.

The prime minister pointed out that the Iran Revolutionary Guard Corps and its proxies have been actively attacking the United Arab Emirates and other countries while the Vienna talks are ongoing.

“That is the definition of negotiations under fire. That’s blackmail,” he said.

Israel’s strategy to fight back against Iran will stand regardless of the results in Vienna, because “even with an agreement, we think the Iranians will continue to be the Iranians,” he added.

“If an agreement is signed and the flow of dollars is renewed, we all understand Iranian aggression will only increase in the region.”

In addition, Bennett pointed out that the sunset clauses in the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, which the delegations in Vienna are seeking to revive, expires in a short time, at the end of 2030.

With US Ambassador Tom Nides in the audience, Bennett said that Washington’s interests and Jerusalem’s “do not always overlap.”

“Their interest in our region is lessening,” Bennett said of the Americans. “Their eyes are currently focused on the border of Russia and Ukraine, and in the long term, they are in a strategic conflict with China.”

There is “no longer one global policeman,” he said.

“There are no vacuums in the geopolitical arena,” Bennett stated. “Any place that is cleared is immediately taken. The United States’ place in the region can be filled – God forbid – by forces of terror and hate, and it could be filled by Israel.”

Israel’s allies in the region could be part of a “multidimensional alliance” against forces that seek to destabilize the Middle East, he said.■

[Courtesy: Lahav HARKOV/ Anna AHRONHEIM // The Jerusalem Post]

Mount Everest pictured from Space

<SUNBIGHT>~Space~NASA~Eke~13th January,2022.

NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei took this breathtaking view of the Himalayas from the ISS. Then, having posted the stunning shot, he challenged his followers to find Mount Everest in it.

Though it’s the world’s highest mountain at 29,000 feet, it isn’t easy to find. Imagine how tiny people are if mountains seem so small compared to the universe!

Net users suggested different spots in the photo, but few chose the right place.

Do you have an answer, or can’t you make it out? The correct answer is shown in the pix below.■

[Courtesy: RT Documentary]

Two rockets fired from Gaza towards central Israel

TWO rockets launched from the Hamas-run Gaza Strip fell in the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of central Israel early on Saturday morning.

“Earlier this morning, two rocket launches were identified from the Gaza Strip toward the Mediterranean.

The rockets fell off the coast of the Tel Aviv metropolitan area. According to protocol, no sirens were sounded and no interception took place,” the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit said in a statement.

The rockets were heard in the cities of Tel Aviv, Holon, Bat Yam and Rishon Lezion.

According to reports, one rocket fell near Tel Aviv while the other landed near Palmahim, south of the city. There were no injuries and, despite the smoke seen off the coast, no reports of damage.

Army Radio reported that Egypt has sent a message to Israel that the rocket fire was not intentional and IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kohavi held situational assessments regarding the rocket fire.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett held consultations over Shabbat regarding the rocket fire, according to a political source.Groups in the Gaza Strip said that the two rockets were caused by “weather conditions.”

Hamas has used the excuse of lightning strikes causing rockets to be launched toward Israel, including in November of last year. In that incident, two rockets were fired and landed north of Ashdod and the other struck Palmahim Beach. In response, Israeli jets struck military positions and an underground structure belonging to Hamas.

Other incidents where lightning was blamed for rocket fire included one in March 2019 where a rocket made a direct impact on a home in the central town of Mishmeret in the Sharon Plain and injured seven people, as well as another in October 2018 when a home in Beersheba was destroyed after a rocket made a direct hit and another landed off the coast of Israel.

All rockets had been aimed towards the Jewish state and were preemptively primed.

The rocket launches come as the Israeli military said that this had been the longest period of operational quiet in relation to the four most recent operations in the coastal enclave.

In the six months following the 11 days of fighting in May, known as Operation Guardian of the Walls, only five long-range rockets were fired from the Hamas-run coastal enclave toward Israel.

In comparison, 22 rockets were fired following Protective Edge in 2014, 196 rockets were fired following Cast Lead in 2009, and 76 were fired following Pillar of Defense in 2012.

Despite the relative quiet, it remains tense in southern Israel with Hamas continuing to hold large-scale military drills, firing rockets toward the sea in an attempt to improve their rocket arsenal and threaten Israel.

In August, a Border Police officer was shot at point-blank range during a violent protest along the Gaza border fence. He died nine days later.

On Wednesday, senior officials from the terrorist group met with Hezbollah officials in the Lebanese capital of Beirut and vowed that they are preparing for a military confrontation with Israel.

Later that day, an Israeli civilian doing maintenance work on the newly completed border fence in the northern sector was lightly wounded after he was shot by a sniper.

In response, Israeli tanks fired artillery shells towards a Hamas post near Gaza City, wounding several farmers. The IDF also closed roads next to the border fence out of concern over additional attacks and ordered farmers to stay away from land near the border.■

[Courtesy: Anna AHRONHEIM / Jerusalem Post]

Israel has Created an Extremely Effective Missile Defense System

<SUNBIGHT > – 21 December, 2021.

Here’s What You Need To Remember: No other existing air-defense system can claim the over one-thousands intercepts achieved by the Iron Dome.

In January 2019, defense media reported that the U.S. Army plans to request funding from Congress to procure two advanced Iron Dome air-defense batteries from the Israeli firm Rafael. The $373 million deal would compromise 240 Tamir interceptor missiles, twelve launchers, and two radars and command trailers. At least two more batteries of undetermined design are required by 2023.

Since 2011, the Israel Defense Force has used the Iron Dome system to shoot down over 1,700 unguided rockets and mortar shells launched by militants in Lebanon, Syria, and the Gaza Strip against Israeli communities. An Iron Dome battery can also engage aircraft, drones, large artillery shells and possibly even cruise and ballistic missiles—as proven by its shootdown of an Iranian Fateh ballistic missile on January 20, 2019.

The Iron Dome was conceived in response to Israel’s unique security challenges. Since 2001, Palestinian militants have stockpiled tens of thousands of mortar shells, crude artisanal Qassam rockets, and heavier Grad, Katyusha, Fajr and M-302 artillery rockets with which to launch constant harassment attacks. Though individually highly inaccurate, with roughly three-quarters failing to reach Israeli targets, the thousands of projectiles still caused deaths and injuries, and inflicted extensive property damage and psychological distress.

When IDF forces attacked Hezbollah in the Lebanon War of 2006, the militant organization responded to the ferocious Israeli aerial bombardment by firing over four thousand rockets, killing forty-four Israeli civilians. (Lebanese civilians deaths to IDF strikes are estimated to number 860.)

The Iron Dome began development in 2007 as a semi-affordable means to intercept the incoming projectiles. After a few years of testing, the system was operationally deployed in March 2011, and shot down its first rocket less than two weeks later. Though initially a purely Israeli defense project, in 2011 Washington began providing funding totaling $1.5 billion by 2018 in exchange for access to Iron Dome technology. In fact, 70 percent of the components in its Tamir missiles are built by Raytheon in the United States.

Israel currently has ten batteries deployed, with five more planned. The Israeli Navy also intends to deploy four modified Iron Dome batteries at sea to protect maritime assets. Azerbaijan and Roman purchased Iron Dome batteries in 2016 and 2018 respectively, though the number involved remains unclear. There are also rumors that Israel sold the system to Saudi Arabia, though both governments vigorously deny it.

Each Iron Dome battery consists of three or four launchers carrying twenty Tamir interceptors; a search/fire-control radar; and a trailer containing a Battle Management and Weapon Control center to coordinate the rest via wireless connection. The batteries can be easily redeployed by 6 x 6 trucks in response to operational needs.

The Iron Dome relies upon a high-resolution EL/M-2084 Active Electronically Scanned Array radar to detect incoming rockets and shells up to forty-three miles away. The system then calculates the projectile’s trajectory to determine whether it is likely to hit a population center, or explode harmlessly in an unpopulated area. Only in the former case is an interception attempted

The slender 160-millimeter Tamir interceptors then hurtle towards the incoming threat at up to 2.5 times the speed of sound, guided by the ground-based radar. However, as the three-meter-long missiles close with the targeted projectile, their nose-mounted electro-optical sensor takes over to provide more precise terminal guidance. A proximity fuse detonates the missile’s thirty-five-pound fragmentation warhead once it enters range.

The Iron Dome’s-based greatest test came when IDF troops attacked Hamas positions in the Gaza strip in July 2014. Gaza militants launched around 4,600 rockets and mortar shells in response, around one-quarter of which landed near areas populated by Israeli civilians. The six Iron Dome batteries then active were hastily reinforced with three more. Together, they shot-down 735 rockets and mortar shells and failed to intercept around seventy, consistent with an 85 percent to 90 percent success rate claimed by the IDF.

In total, Palestinian rockets and mortars killed five Israeli and one Thai civilian and injured eighty in 2014. Additionally, nearly three hundred short-firing militant rockets landed in Gaza, killing thirteen Palestinian civilians, most of them children.

Despite the system’s popularity in Israel, critics have questioned whether officially successful Iron Dome intercepts are actually effective at neutralizing incoming projectiles, though some of the more sweeping critiques themselves appear flawed when given scrutiny. A more measured 2018 assessment by Michael Armstrong argues the system’s success rate against projectiles landing in populated areas may lie between 59 percent to 75 percent.

Cost-efficiency is another concern. Though some sources list the Tamir missiles as costing as little as $35,000 each, the new Pentagon’s funding request lists a price of $150,000 per missile. Even this higher figures is peanuts compared to multimillion-dollar Patriot air-defense missiles. But even going by the lower figure, each Tamir is many times more expensive than the projectiles it is destroying.

This has led some Israelis to advocate for a directed-energy weapon component to more cost-efficiently handle mass attacks. The Israeli firm Rafael has developed a laser called the Iron Beam with this capability in mind, though atmospheric diffusion limits its engagement range to a seven-mile radius.

Why Is the Pentagon Procuring Iron Dome?

The Pentagon’s procurement apparently stems from an explicit mandate: Congress’s 2019 defense policy bill legally requires the Army deploy at least two batteries “that require the least development possible” capable of providing “interim cruise missile defense.” Iron Dome beat out the more expensive Norwegian NASAMS system currently protecting the U.S. capital as a ready-to-go solution.

Cruise missiles, however, are more difficult to intercept than crude rocket artillery arcing in a predictable ballistic trajectory. Modern cruise missile designs often include defensive features such as skimming at very low altitudes and engaging in pop-up or l-shaped maneuvers prior to impact; others have stealthy reduced radar cross-sections, or travel extremely fast at supersonic or hypersonic speeds.

Indeed, in IDF service the Iron Dome is meant to be complemented by two higher-tier defensive systems: the David’s Sling for taking out cruise missiles and short-range ballistic missiles up to one hundred miles away, and the hypersonic Arrow-3 ABM to intercept faster, longer-range-ballistic missiles.

Thus the Iron Dome may require adaptation to serve as more than an interim solution. Furthermore, as the system’s limited range means it can only provide local defense, more than two to four batteries would be required to provide substantial coverage for frontline troops. Thus, a favorable evaluation could lead to a much larger-scale procurement.

Indeed, the Pentagon is considering investing large sums to make Iron Dome networkable with other U.S. air-defense systems, and in 2016 even tested integrating the Tamir missile into a fifteen-cell “Multi-Mission Launcher” designed to fire a variety of missiles. The Tamir’s capabilities may actually make a more natural fit for other short-range air-defense missions such as shooting down surveillance or kamikaze drones, helicopters, and even standard 155-millimeter artillery shells.

No other existing air-defense system can claim the over one-thousands intercepts achieved by the Iron Dome. Now the Pentagon is set to evaluate whether it represents a cost-efficient air-defense solution outside the unique threat environment it was designed for.■

[Courtesy: Sebastien Roblin / The National Interest]

Asteroid the size of Burj Khalifa heading for Earth mid-December

Designated 163899 (2003 SD220), the massive asteroid is has a diameter of approximately 791 meters. But while considered potentially hazardous, it also has potential for exploration.,

A massive asteroid, comparable in size to the tallest building on Earth, is heading for the planet in mid-December, as noted by NASA’s asteroid tracker.

Designated 163899 (2003 SD220), the massive asteroid has a diameter of approximately 791 meters, nearly half a mile long. This is nearly the size of the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, the tallest manmade structure on Earth. 

However, observations made in 2015 by the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico suggested it could be far larger, at least 2 kilometers in length, with observers comparing its shape to that of a sweet potato. 

NASA later came up with different measurements, around 1.6 kilometers, and compared its shape to that of a hippopotamus. However, current NASA estimates place the asteroid at a diameter of 791 meters.

The asteroid is set to fly past the Earth on December 17 within a distance of around 5.4 million kilometers away from the planet at a speed of 5.6 km/s. 

For comparison, the distance between the Earth and the Moon is far less than that – around 385,000 km. As such, despite being classified as a Potentially Hazardous Asteroid (PHA) due to its size and close proximity to Earth, it seems unlikely to pose a threat to the planet. In fact, NASA has declared the Earth safe from asteroid impacts for the next 100 years.

The asteroid is considered to be in the Aten-class, meaning its orbit crosses over with Earth’s orbit around the Sun, but it spends most of its time inside it.

As such, there is the theoretical chance it could one day strike the planet, but current calculations show this isn’t a concern right now.

However, there is other value in this asteroid, as it could hold the potential for being the site of a possible robotic exploration mission. Currently, no such mission is planned, but it is theoretically possible.

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory calculated data for a hypothetical exploration mission to the asteroid. According to these calculations, it would have a delta-v (a measure of various values and factors determining how difficult it would be to properly maneuver a spacecraft during takeoff and/or landing) of 9.851 km/s. For comparison, this is around the delta-v for launching a rocket into low-orbit.Asteroid exploration is a major field in astronomy, and many space agencies have expressed interest in exploring the many large objects in the solar system. In October, the United Arab Emirates announced plans for a new mission to explore asteroids, and be the first Arab nation to successfully land a spacecraft on an asteroid.

Tentatively set to launch in 2028 with a seven-year development time for the spacecraft, the mission will see the UAE explore the planet Venus, as well as seven asteroids, culminating in a planned landing on an asteroid itself in 2033 after a five-year journey.

Three nations have landed on asteroids in the past, and many see them as possible sources for future mining operations, as these asteroids can be rich in raw materials.

Regardless of the potential though, many are also rightly worried about the dangers of near-Earth asteroids, as impacts can be devastating and humanity currently lacks an adequate means of defending against them.

One method for possibly stopping the impact of an asteroid is through the use of deflection, which would mean launching something to slightly alter its path.In layman’s terms, it means punching an asteroid with a rocket with enough speed to change its direction by a fraction of a percent.

The most prominent of these efforts is the Double Asteroid Redirect.ion Test (DART) Mission, set to be launched in November, the result of efforts by NASA and the Applied Physics Laboratory.

However, other measures have also been considered – such as disruption, meaning destroying the asteroid, but at this time – these remain hypothetical.■

[Author: Aaron REICH / The Jerusalem Post]