Track work on Northeast Corridor to slow travel for NJ Transit riders – Hunterdon County Democrat

A New Jersey Transit train at the Trenton station in this 2010 file photo. Track work will alter schedules on the Northeast Corridor starting Sunday. 

New Jersey Transit rail passengers will face new schedules Sunday because of track work along the Northeast Corridor.

Amtrak, which owns the rails, is replacing rail ties. Track 4 will be taken out of service for several months between New Brunswick and Metuchen.

NJ Transit’s new schedule reflects keeping one track in each direction for local service while using the remaining track for express trains during peak hours.

The new schedule shows slightly longer trip times for trains to and from Trenton. There are changes to departure times and a reduction in the total number of train stops through the work zone during non-peak hours.

Amtrak is installing special boarding platform bridges at New Brunswick, Edison and Metuchen stations.

RELATED COVERAGE

Work on the railroad could mean longer trips to work

Article source: http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2013/05/nj_transit_to_adjust_train_sch.html

Gas prices shouldn ‘ t hurt summer travel


By Jonnelle Marte

Americans debating summer trips may have more motivation to hit the road this year: Thanks in part to lower gas prices, it may cost them less than it would have in recent years, travel experts say.


Getty Images

A combination of factors, including some cheaper airfares, lower gas prices and overall greater consumer confidence, could inspire more people to go on vacation this year, travel experts say. For instance, 86% of people surveyed by travel site TripAdvisor said they are planning to travel for fun this summer, up 7 percentage points from last year. Three in four people surveyed by TripAdvisor said they would be driving to their summer destinations this year, and 64% will be flying.

Fuel costs, long a major factor in determining how people might spend their free time, are likely to be less of a concern for many travelers this year. That is partly because gas prices sat at a national average of $3.59 a gallon in mid-May, compared with an average $3.96 a gallon for the same time in 2011, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration and TripAdvisor. The share of people worried that gas would impact their summer travel plans was only 13% in May, down significantly from 39% in 2011, according to the survey.

Of course, not all Americans are feeling relief at the pump. Gas prices climbed higher in May in parts of the West and Midwest as maintenance work at refineries and other unexpected issues limited local supply, says Michael Green, a spokesman for AAA. The average price of a gallon of regular unleaded gas rose more than 60 cents in May in North Dakota to an all-time high of $4.24, says Green. In Minnesota, the price of a gallon rose more than 80 cents to a high of $4.28. (Prices have since come down slightly in both states.)

But while many consumers assume gas prices rise during the summer when they’re driving more, gas prices actually typically peak in mid-spring, when many refineries are conducting maintenance, and then drop during the summer as refineries increase supply. They rise again when hurricane season starts in late summer and early fall, says Green.


Click to Play

Oil Prices Gushing While Other Commodities Fall

Christian Berthelsen explains why the price of oil, and ultimately the price of gas at the pump, hasn’t kept in line with other commodities that have largely trended lower. Photo: AP

That said, gas prices are still noticeably higher than they were during 2009 and 2010, and about a third of people surveyed by Orbitz said they would scale back their vacations if gas prices reached $4 a gallon. For some travelers, that could mean setting their sights closer to home. Travelers worried about higher gas prices may skimp in other areas, spending less on shopping, dining out or souvenirs to offset higher fuel prices, says Green.

Green says drivers can take steps to ease the pain of steeper gas prices, such as making sure their tires are properly inflated, packing light to lessen the load on the car (since heavier cars use more fuel), or packing their luggage inside the car, rather than putting them on the roof rack and creating a drag.

Lower prices for jet fuel may also be a factor in making some airfares cheaper this summer, according to travel analysts. Round trip flights to Denver from various other U.S. cities, for example, will cost an average of $294, down 14% from this time last year, based on prices available on travel-booking site Orbitz for travel between June and August. Flights to Honolulu from various cities are down 10% to an average $737 this summer.

And of course, unforeseen events could cause gas prices—and airfare—to climb higher, travel pros say. “If gas prices go up, then jet fuel will go up, which means airfare may go up,” says George Hobica, president of AirfareWatchdog.com. Other factors like demand and airline capacity could also push up flight prices even if gas prices stay flat, says Marita Hudson Thomas, a spokeswoman for Orbitz. The take-away: Book before temperatures—and airfares—rise.

Article source: http://www.marketwatch.com/story/gas-prices-shouldnt-hurt-summer-travel-2013-05-31

The Capitalist Touch: Travel Light – Pack Heavy With Tech Infused Weekenders

(Left to Right) Keepall 45 Bandouliere in Damier Infini ($3,050) By Louis Vuitton; www.louisvuitton.com. Turfyn-MD Weekender ($1,695) by Bally; www.bally.com.:

Past/Present/Future:

High on the agenda of change in travel has without a doubt been elegant and edgy travel bags. The current demands for lightweight product and racy styles has set the track laden with bold appearance and tech-infused details reinventing the way we travel.  In the past, weekend bags made their way into a man’s wardrobe by way of simplistic thought out product offerings; In other words, if the bag fit the right size to transport your belongings, the consumer was satisfied.

The new updated sense of perfection is a result of consumer demand for lighter weight, water and stain resistant material, techie features and sleek modern design.  From trekking on business flights to the  relaxation of the beloved countryside, the new generation of luggage is providing an answer to  filter each mans travel needs.

The lineup of product offerings seem to have an overeager sense of exploration with added value of smart mixes of color and a strong sense of purpose.  It’s no wonder that the new group of winners equipped with geometric lines, lends an international attitude which embodies the focal point of the summer weekend.  Pictured above is the Keepall 45 Bandouliere in Damier Infini By Louis Vuitton and the Turfyn-MD Weekender by Bally; two bags of the modern generation having roots in tradition and overall dynamic innovation with an added sense of luxury living.

Style Director: Joseph DeAcetis
Fashion Assistant: Eric Azevedo

Photographed by: Cameron R. Neilson
Prop Stylist: Megumi Emoto from Anderson Hopkins

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Article source: http://www.forbes.com/sites/josephdeacetis/2013/05/31/the-capitalist-touch-travel-light-pack-heavy-with-tech-infused-weekenders/

Let’s Play: Making Travel a Game

For the next three hours the couple would explore the area and learn about its history by tackling trivia questions and accepting benign dares — challenges that came not from a tour guide, but from an app called Stray Boots that Ms. Peters had downloaded to her iPhone.

The first question seemed like a test to ensure that they were in the right spot: “What color is the wall painted?” Ms. Peters typed “blue” on her iPhone. Up popped the verdict: “Correct!” That earned her 10 points from the app, which then provided some history about the 1973 artwork by Forrest Myers. The couple spent the rest of the afternoon racking up points for each riddle and dare they polished off, striving to achieve a perfect score of 240. At the Hollister store they were told to snap a photo of themselves with the shirtless greeters who flank the doors like naughty cousins of the toy soldiers outside F. A. O. Schwarz. Near Greene Street they were asked how many “real” glass windows were above the first floor of the trompe l’oeil public artwork by Richard Haas.

“As we answered questions correctly, we were high-fiving in the middle of the street,” said Ms. Peters, a program coordinator in Brooklyn for a national nonprofit organization called Playworks. “You learn so many cool things.”

Stray Boots, which sells $2-to-$12 tours of more than a dozen cities including New Orleans, Philadelphia and Miami, was introduced last year, though the company began testing the concept in 2009 using only text messages. Since then, it has sold more than 85,000 tours, roughly doubling sales each year, said its chief executive, Avi Millman. (Stray Boots is also available in Britain, where it’s known as UK: The Game.)

I decided to take a tour in Times Square to see if even I, who work there, could learn a thing or two. I rolled my eyes when the app sent me to Toys “R” Us and the MM’s World store. And I was disappointed that it didn’t explain the evolution of Father Duffy Square. I did, however, pick up a few factoids including how in the 1840s New York Police Department officers wore badges made of copper, which may have inspired the nickname “coppers” and later “cops.”

Yet the app is merely one product in a wave of new travel programs and promotions that are using game theory to win over customers, particularly those under 30 (so-called millennials). Today online tour operators like Expedia are incorporating avatars and trivia contests into the browsing and booking process. Tourism offices in Pennsylvania and Illinois are proffering exclusive Foursquare badges to those who check in at sites in their states. Museums are using portable multimedia players to make walking through their collections feel a bit like being in a multiplayer video game. And the America’s State Parks Foundation is rolling out a new app by ParksbyNature Network called the Pocket Ranger — available in 40 states by the end of the year — that enables users to earn points and win prizes by signing up for GeoChallenges, outdoor quests that require players to use the app’s GPS feature to navigate to sites like dams, trails and reservoirs.

It may sound like play, but it’s part of a broader business trend known as gamification. Gabe Zichermann, author of the new book “The Gamification Revolution” and chair of the annual Gsummit in San Francisco, describes it as the process of using the best ideas from games, loyalty and behavioral economics to engage people and solve problems (or both). It generally involves the use of motivational techniques and psychological triggers, like being alerted to a challenge or offered an opportunity for higher status, often in combination with digital candy like badges, points and leader boards. (Some of the fundamental ideas are derived from research by the social scientist BJ Fogg at Stanford University; you can learn about gaming your own behavior at Behaviorwizard.org.)

Mr. Zichermann, himself an avid traveler, said that things elemental to travel are also elemental to gamification. Hard-core travelers like to keep score: they know how many countries they’ve visited and how many miles they’ve flown. They take pleasure in accumulating badges, like stamps on their passport (and, in bygone days, stickers on their luggage). They check off must-see landmarks like the Eiffel Tower and the Parthenon as if they are levels in a video game. Even the act of traveling from one place to another becomes a personal challenge: to do so with ever more speed and status.

On a deeper level, though, great gaming experiences speak to our inner desire for mastery, autonomy and purpose, Mr. Zichermann noted. The same can be said of travel. “Why do we travel?” he said. “It’s all about creating memories and discovering ourselves. Gamification is perfectly aligned with that.”

But a common misperception is that it’s strictly about competition, Mr. Zichermann said. Gamification can engage people simply by making travel more playful and social, like Virgin America’s new seat-to-seat delivery feature that encourages fliers to “get lucky” by sending one another cocktails and messages through the entertainment system touchscreens on seatbacks. Or KLM’s Meet Seat program, which allows passengers to view one another’s Facebook and LinkedIn profiles before the flight and then pick a spot next to an intriguing stranger. Even acquiring travel skills has become a game with language-learning Web sites like Duolingo and MindSnacks. And photo-sharing apps like Instagram and Flickr, while not pure gamification, borrow elements of the practice, making travel feel more communal.

Thanks to the ubiquity of smartphones and big data, gamification is now prevalent in practically every industry, though some of its roots are in travel, going back to the early 1980s, when American Airlines introduced its AAdvantage frequent flier program to create brand loyalty. Despite gamification’s popularity, there are many poorly designed experiences. In fact, the technology research company Gartner is predicting that by next year 80 percent of gamification projects will fail to meet business objectives. When done right, however, gamification can garner brand loyalty while also helping travelers interact, learn, share opinions and explore the world.

Article source: http://travel.nytimes.com/2013/06/02/travel/lets-play-making-travel-a-game.html?pagewanted=all

Gas prices shouldn’t hurt summer travel


By Jonnelle Marte

Americans debating summer trips may have more motivation to hit the road this year: Thanks in part to lower gas prices, it may cost them less than it would have in recent years, travel experts say.


Getty Images

A combination of factors, including some cheaper airfares, lower gas prices and overall greater consumer confidence, could inspire more people to go on vacation this year, travel experts say. For instance, 86% of people surveyed by travel site TripAdvisor said they are planning to travel for fun this summer, up 7 percentage points from last year. Three in four people surveyed by TripAdvisor said they would be driving to their summer destinations this year, and 64% will be flying.

Fuel costs, long a major factor in determining how people might spend their free time, are likely to be less of a concern for many travelers this year. That is partly because gas prices sat at a national average of $3.59 a gallon in mid-May, compared with an average $3.96 a gallon for the same time in 2011, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration and TripAdvisor. The share of people worried that gas would impact their summer travel plans was only 13% in May, down significantly from 39% in 2011, according to the survey.

Of course, not all Americans are feeling relief at the pump. Gas prices climbed higher in May in parts of the West and Midwest as maintenance work at refineries and other unexpected issues limited local supply, says Michael Green, a spokesman for AAA. The average price of a gallon of regular unleaded gas rose more than 60 cents in May in North Dakota to an all-time high of $4.24, says Green. In Minnesota, the price of a gallon rose more than 80 cents to a high of $4.28. (Prices have since come down slightly in both states.)

But while many consumers assume gas prices rise during the summer when they’re driving more, gas prices actually typically peak in mid-spring, when many refineries are conducting maintenance, and then drop during the summer as refineries increase supply. They rise again when hurricane season starts in late summer and early fall, says Green.


Click to Play

Oil Prices Gushing While Other Commodities Fall

Christian Berthelsen explains why the price of oil, and ultimately the price of gas at the pump, hasn’t kept in line with other commodities that have largely trended lower. Photo: AP

That said, gas prices are still noticeably higher than they were during 2009 and 2010, and about a third of people surveyed by Orbitz said they would scale back their vacations if gas prices reached $4 a gallon. For some travelers, that could mean setting their sights closer to home. Travelers worried about higher gas prices may skimp in other areas, spending less on shopping, dining out or souvenirs to offset higher fuel prices, says Green.

Green says drivers can take steps to ease the pain of steeper gas prices, such as making sure their tires are properly inflated, packing light to lessen the load on the car (since heavier cars use more fuel), or packing their luggage inside the car, rather than putting them on the roof rack and creating a drag.

Lower prices for jet fuel may also be a factor in making some airfares cheaper this summer, according to travel analysts. Round trip flights to Denver from various other U.S. cities, for example, will cost an average of $294, down 14% from this time last year, based on prices available on travel-booking site Orbitz for travel between June and August. Flights to Honolulu from various cities are down 10% to an average $737 this summer.

And of course, unforeseen events could cause gas prices—and airfare—to climb higher, travel pros say. “If gas prices go up, then jet fuel will go up, which means airfare may go up,” says George Hobica, president of AirfareWatchdog.com. Other factors like demand and airline capacity could also push up flight prices even if gas prices stay flat, says Marita Hudson Thomas, a spokeswoman for Orbitz. The take-away: Book before temperatures—and airfares—rise.

Article source: http://www.marketwatch.com/story/gas-prices-shouldnt-hurt-summer-travel-2013-05-31

Deals: This week’s best travel bargains

Land

Save 30 percent on accommodations and receive free airport transfers with a deal from the Reefs Resort Club in Southampton, Bermuda. The Advanced Fall Booking sale applies to stays of at least four consecutive nights Aug. 11 through Dec. 26. For example, four nights in a poolside room in late August is now $1,978 per couple, including breakfast, afternoon tea, taxes and gratuities. Airport transfer typically costs $100 round trip for two, for a total savings of $950 per couple. Book by June 10. Info: 888-224-6588, www.thereefs.com.

● Sofitel Luxury Properties is offering a free fourth night at 85 properties around the world. The Summer Collection package features such properties as Sofitel Montreal Golden Mile, Sofitel Bora Bora Marara Beach and Sofitel Warsaw Victoria. Prices vary. For instance, in June, four nights at the Sofitel Jinan Silver Plaza in China cost $366, plus $35 taxes; nightly rate is usually from $126. At the Sofitel San Francisco Bay, pay $722, plus $6 taxes, for four nights in late June; usual nightly rate is $269. Deal also includes welcome gift of flowers or fruit and late checkout. Stay by Aug. 31. Info: 800-763-4835, www.sofitel.com.

Sea

● Viking Cruises will launch its first ocean-going vessel in 2015 and is offering introductory two-for-one rates and discounted airfare on ocean cruises booked by July 31 (you must also pay the deposit by this date). The early-booking discounts on the 928-passenger Viking Star apply to all European itineraries, which range from nine to 49 nights. Prices vary. For example, with the discount, the nine-night Empires of the Mediterranean cruise, which travels from Venice to Istanbul, starts at $2,999 per person double on the April 11, 2015, and Nov. 8, 2015, departures. Round-trip airfare from Washington is $795 per person; fare typically starts at about $950. Info: 855-884-5464, www.vikingcruises.com/oceans.

● This summer and fall, families can save more than $1,000 on a G
alapagos yacht cruise with Quasar Expeditions. With the Early Bird Family Special, book by June 14, and the company will take 20 percent off the rate for adults and children ages 12 to 19. The seven-night cruise aboard the 32-passenger M/V Evolution now starts at $4,064 per person double, down from $5,080. In addition, kids age 11 and younger save 30 percent, now paying $3,556. The promo applies to departures on July 20 and several in August, September and October. Price includes three daily meals, snacks and non-alcoholic beverages; all guided activities; use of snorkeling equipment; and taxes. Info: 866-481-7790, www.quasarex.com.

Air

● Southwest is offering sale fares on nonstop flights between BWI Marshall and San Juan, Puerto Rico. Round-trip fare is $278, including taxes, for travel Aug. 12 through Oct. 31. Connecting service on other airlines starts at $293 during sale period. Purchase at www.southwest.com by June 6.

Packages

● SmarTours is offering couples discounts of $800 on select departures of its South American Odyssey tour. Price, after discount, is $4,099 per person double for the Nov. 11 and Nov. 25 departures; the Dec. 25 departure is $4,399. Trip includes round-trip airfare from New York’s JFK to Santiago, Chile, with return from Rio de Janeiro; four flights within South America; 13 nights in six hotels; 19 meals; all ground transportation; sightseeing excursions with entrance fees; tour guides; and taxes. Book by June 6; the company must receive a $300 nonrefundable deposit by check within seven days of booking. Info: 800-337-7773, www.smartours.com.

● Mango Bay Hotel and CheapCaribbean.com have teamed up to offer a five-night package to Barbados. The deal starts at $1,399 per person double and includes round-trip air from Washington Dulles to Bridgetown; a standard room at the beachfront, all-inclusive resort (e.g., all meals, most beverages and such activities as kayaking, wakeboarding and a catamaran trip to snorkel with the turtles); vouchers worth $600 in “Barbados dollars,” valid at shops, restaurants and various attractions; and taxes. Book by June 15; travel July 1 through Dec. 14. By comparison, air alone starts at $600 and the hotel is $425 per room a night. Info: 800-915-2322, www.cheapcaribbean.com.


Carol Sottili, Andrea Sachs

Submit travel deals to whatsthedeal@washpost.com. Prices were verified at press time Thursday, but deals sell out and availability is not guaranteed. Some restrictions may apply.

Article source: http://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/travel/deals-this-weeks-best-travel-bargains/2013/05/30/65224058-c7de-11e2-8da7-d274bc611a47_story.html

YOUR MONEY-Airline fees complicate travel cost comparisons


Fri May 31, 2013 3:59am EDT

May 31 (Reuters) – Trying to find the best deal for a flight
used to be a lot easier. All you had to do was look at the price
of airfare – and you could easily compare one to the next.

Not anymore. As the summer travel season ramps up, it’s all
about the fees: fees for boarding passes; fees for seating; fees
to flight changes; fees for your bags. Fees, fees and more fees.

“A lot of travelers are realizing they can’t just price-shop
anymore,” says Annie Wang, senior travel strategy analyst for
the website TravelNerd.com.

It’s certainly more involved for consumers to weigh the cost
of traveling with a particular airline versus the competition,
but travel experts suggest comparison is still possible.

“You have to do the math,” says Seth Kaplan, publisher of
the industry publication Airline Weekly. “You really have to
really think it all through.”

Homework is necessary because the picture changes
constantly. Earlier this month, Frontier Airlines became the
third carrier to charge certain passengers for carry-on bags.
Most of the leading U.S. air carriers recently announced
increases to the cost of changing flight reservations. And it is
no longer a given that you can sit with a family member – you
may have to pay extra.

Indeed, some airlines apply a seat surcharge that varies if
you sit in a window, aisle or middle seat. In 2012 alone,
airlines changed 52 fees, raising 36 and mostly mixing others
together, according to a TravelNerd survey.

WHAT’S GOING ON

The growth of what is known in the industry as “unbundling”
- essentially making your ticket more of an a la carte affair -
has been a big plus for the airline industry. Airlines in 2012
collected more than $6 billion in baggage and flight change fees
alone, according to U.S. Department of Transportation data.

Unbundled fares are more in line with how consumers make the
rest of their purchases, says Robert Mann, an airline analyst
for R.W. Mann Company Inc. You pay for as much, or as little,
as you require.

As airlines test the limits of how much consumers are
willing to pay, several have also begun bundling add-ons to the
base fares in packages.

U.S. carriers, including American Airlines Inc
, are following a path already charted by Air Canada
, which has created tiers with various bundles of
services packaged into a single add-on charge.

Air Canada has five bundles, including the basic “Tango,”
which features lower fares but only half the frequent flier
miles on a flight, among other trade-offs. You could also pay
more – price differences vary by flight – and avoid reservation
change fees or charges for the first two bags. The question is
whether what you get is worth $200, $500, or even $2,000 more.

“It requires a lot more thinking – to identify in your own
value equation what you think it’s worth,” Mann says.

SOLVING THE FEE RIDDLE

To help consumers sort through the array of fees, several
travel sites – including Kayak.com, TravelNerd.com and
SmarterTravel.com – feature comprehensive lists. Seeing what you
could be getting charged for can help provide a sense of how
much you can expect to add to the base airfare.

So when you are going to fly, it’s important to figure out
what you would be willing to pay extra to obtain.

“When looking on a comparison site such as Orbitz, add in
the additional fees based on what you’ll need,” says Jon Lal, a
frequent traveler and founder of BeFrugal.com. Consider charges
for such things as early check-in, extra leg room, checked bags,
and snacks “to calculate the true cost of your flight. Be honest
about your needs. If paying for extra leg room will improve your
trip, it may be worth the extra money.”

Southwest Airlines Co and JetBlue Airways
have so far bucked much of the fee trend, for travelers who have
the option to use those airlines. Neither airline charges for
the first checked bag. Southwest does not charge for a second
one either. And Southwest still does not charge a fee for
changing a ticket. Most airlines are now charging $200 to change
a domestic reservation.

Using an airline credit card – which typically comes with a
fee of its own – is a favorite of frequent fliers since you not
only earn more miles, but can also wipe away baggage fees and
qualify for other perks.

Delta Air Lines Inc’s American Express Gold Card,
for instance, costs $95 a year, but allows the cardholder and up
to eight companions to check one bag apiece for free and to
receive preferential boarding. Also, those who achieve the
highest frequent-flier status are rewarded with exemptions from
most fees.

Planning before you book the flight is more important now,
given the potential to watch a ticket soar with fees, says Wang
of TravelNerd.

PACKING IS KEY

For travelers like Jill Jacinto, 27, a New York City-based
media manager, carefully planning outfits is the difference
between having to pay a $100 surcharge each way for having more
than one checked bag. “I’d rather bring less and be able to save
money than paying for checking bags.”

John DiScala, who runs the travel website JohnnyJet.com,
also suggests carrying a bag all the way through to the gate and
getting it checked there for free. Another possibility is
wearing a specially designed jacket with more than 20 pockets
that can be used like an extra carry-on.

Shipping luggage ahead of time rather than dragging bags
through the airport and paying fees to check them is one
recommendation Steve Griswold of Atlanta-based Pixie Vacations
makes to some of his clients. A 40-pound bag, for instance,
shipped from Chicago to the Orlando, Florida, area would cost
$30 to $60 depending on how it was shipped, with the least-
expensive method via the U.S. Postal Service’s Parcel Post.

Several services have sprung up such as the Boston-based
Luggage Forward, which delivers bags door-to=door with a wide
range of prices depending on size of bag and how quickly you
want it delivered. Prices for a standard bag under 50 pounds to
move somewhere in five days start at $99.

The industry is still feeling its way when it comes to
deciding when to stop adding and increasing fees, says Mann, the
airline analyst. We are most likely to start seeing more of the
bundled fares and creative add-ons like paying a set amount to
have a ticket not subject to change fees, he says.

“It’s supply-and-demand economics,” adds Kaplan. “You can’t
charge people more than they’re willing to pay.”

Article source: http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/05/31/airlines-fees-idUSL2N0E913520130531

Radiation makes Mars travel impossible today…let’s fly faster!

NASA’s Curiosity program has confirmed that interplanetary manned missions at speeds attainable today is not possible due to lethal space radiation. However, Russians are preparing to speed up space travel 20-fold to get to Mars and beyond.

Once again it has been confirmed, this time empirically, that
space radiation would seriously endanger cosmonauts’ lives on
their trip to Mars.

The Curiosity rover mission has been collecting valuable data not
only after arrival to the Mars surface. Through the
eight-and-a-half month cruise to Mars the probe’s sensors were
collecting information about space, including radiation levels.

Now the radiation data collected by Curiosity have published in
the May 31 edition of the Science magazine by a group of
scientists from the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder,
Colorado. And their prospects for manned flight to the Red Planet
are dark, naming space radiation as a major threat to astronauts.

Radiation accumulates in the human body; therefore exposure to it
is measured in Sievert (Sv) or milliSievert (one-thousandth of
Sv) at a given time. The atomic bombs of Hiroshima and Nagasaki
dramatically exposed a simple fact that extreme doses of
radiation cause cancer. For example, exposure to 1 Sv adds a 5
per cent increase in risk of developing terminal cancer.

Two known forms of radiation actually threaten astronauts’ health
in space. There are galactic cosmic rays (GCR) from outer space
caused by high-energy events in other stellar systems, such as
supernova explosions and other events outside the solar system.
Another type of radiation is solar energetic particles (SEP)
emitted from our sun in large quantities, particularly at the
time of coronal mass ejections and solar flares.

The International Space Station and manmade satellites are fairly
protected against SEP radiation, but cannot properly shield
highly-energized GCR particles, that either pierce a spacecraft
through or collide with what space vessels consist of on atomic
level, causing deformation of the materials. So far no proper
shielding against GCR particles has been invented, largely
because it would imply a much higher, next-generation power
supply capacity of a spacecraft.

Curiosity’s Radiation Assessment Detector (RAD) has been
measuring the radiation levels during the long 563,000,000
kilometers flight to Mars in conditions similar to those that
will be inside a manned spacecraft in the future missions. The
RAD showed that during its journey to Mars Curiosity was exposed
to an average of 1.8 milliSieverts of GCR radiation per day.

The current NASA radiation regulation for astronauts allows
maximum 3 per cent increase in cancer risk. With about 520 days
in interplanetary space needed for to-and-fro Mars travel
(without actual landing), the daily 1.8 milliSieverts of GCR
radiation make close to 1 Sv in total, much more than allowed for
an astronaut to endure.

“The situation would be greatly improved if we could only get
there quite a bit faster,”
NASA’s Cary Zeitlin told BBC News.

And this is exactly what Russian scientists are planning to do in
the nearest future, developing a spaceship that can travel much
faster than the modern space vessels.

Russia develops manned Mars mission for real

In the meantime Russia is slowly but steadily making its way in
the direction of manned interplanetary missions. The task is
enormous and implies heavy investments in various fields of
science to get a functioning model of a future spaceship.

First of all Russian scientists are set to develop a
megawatt-class nuclear drive to start test in 2017. The
traditional rocket engines are believed to have reached the limit
of their potential.

The nuclear engine project proposes the use of an electric ion
propulsion system using xenon as propellant for the engines.

The engine exhaust thrust will be generated by an ion flow, which
is further accelerated by an electric field. The nuclear reactor
will therefore ‘supply’ the necessary amount of electric power
without unwanted radioactive contamination of the environment.

These new engines would increase the speed of a spaceship
dramatically, by at least 20 times, which means the traveling
time to, for example, Mars would lessen to little more than one
month, given the necessity to gain speed in the beginning of a
journey and slowing down while approaching the Red Planet. In
that case exposure to space radiation would decrease manifold.

Russian state is planning to invest well over $550 million in
development of the nuclear engine program, which uses the vast
practical results of the similar program in the USSR (1961-1989).

But still Russia’s Roscosmos space agency believes it would take
time till 2025 before a functioning atomic engine will get to
space.

Earth and Mars approach each other occasionally and the next
possible date to send a manned expedition to Mars after 2025
would occur in 2035.

In the meantime, Roscosmos and the European Space Agency are
teaming up to develop a united ExoMars exploration program, since
bearing such burden alone is a task too heavy to undertake.

In 2016 the agencies are planning to send a satellite to Mars
and, in 2018, to land a rover.

Roscosmos plans to stage a huge experiment of its own, sending
two cosmonauts for one year to the ISS, returning them to Earth
to imitate activities on the Martian surface, and then
immediately returning them to the ISS to simulate the trip back
home. This test will start in 2018 and the names of the men to
take part in it are already known: Russian cosmonaut Mikhail
Kornienko and American astronaut Scott Kelly.

This unprecedented experiment has been underway for quite some
time. In 2010-2011 a Mars-500 experiment was successfully
conducted. Six volunteers spent 520 days isolated in a mock
spaceship, simulating a trip to the Red Planet and back.

Article source: http://rt.com/news/radiation-mars-travel-impossible-039/

Poker pro gets license to travel as he awaits trial for marijuana distribution …

The feds are taking a big gamble on a suspect in a Bronx drug ring — they’re letting him take repeated jaunts to Sin City and other gambling meccas.

In the seven months since Amnon Filippi was busted on charges of conspiring to distribute marijuana, he’s gone on judicially sanctioned poker-playing trips to Mohegan Sun, Foxwoods, Atlantic City, Las Vegas, and other gambling spots in California and Florida.

That’s because Filippi, 43, had to go there for “work.” He’s a professional poker player.

RELATED: DOUBLING DOWN ON CASINOS

“This is his job. This is how he earns a living,” his lawyer, Jeremy Schneider, told the Daily News on Thursday. “Those are the places he works.”

Filippi has had some success — he’s raked in more than $3 million in winnings over the past decade, according to the Global Poker Index website. The New York native often sports a Yankees cap at the poker table.

Judge Ronnie Abrams of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York has given poker player Amnon Filippi permission to attend gambling tournaments around the nation despite his restrictive bail conditions on marijuana distribution charges. 

Judge Ronnie Abrams of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York has given poker player Amnon Filippi permission to attend gambling tournaments around the nation despite his restrictive bail conditions on marijuana distribution charges. 

Filippi — whose player page says his nickname is “Guts,” and whose federal indictment lists his alias as “Jew E.”— was arrested last October along with two other people for their alleged involvement with a “grow house” on Timpson Ave. in the Bronx.

RELATED: PLAYING GAMES WITH THE LAW

The feds said the trio were growing over 100 marijuana plants in a warehouse there.

Filippi was charged with felony conspiracy, and released on a $250,000 personal recognizance bond. He had to surrender his passport, and his travel was restricted to the Southern and Eastern Districts of New York — essentially New York City, Westchester and Long Island. He was outfitted with an electronic monitoring bracelet to make sure he didn’t try to flee.

A few weeks later, he asked a judge for permission to go to Atlantic City for 10 days in November and Las Vegas for two weeks in early December, court records show.

RELATED: BUSTED RUSSIAN MOB-RUN POKER RING LINKED TO 2012 MURDER-SUICIDE IN QUEENS

World Series of Poker competitor Amnon Filippi may be facing serious drug charges, but he can still gamble, says a federal judge.

World Series of Poker competitor Amnon Filippi may be facing serious drug charges, but he can still gamble, says a federal judge.

Prosecutors agreed to the request and Filippi’s bracelet was removed — and he came back from both trips when he said he would. So when he asked to attend another poker tournament at the Borgata in Atlantic City in January, Judge Ronnie Abrams — his Queen of Hearts in a black robe — gave her okay.

She subsequently approved — without any objection from the feds — trips to the Commerce Casino in Los Angeles, the Bay 101 Casino in San Jose, the Wynn Hotel in Vegas, the Hard Rock Casino in Hollywood, Fla., the Venetian in Vegas, the Best Bet Casino in Jacksonville, a return trip to the Borgata in Atlantic City, and another trip to Sin City for a tournament at the Bellagio.

He’s now been given permission to attend the World Series of Poker at the Rio Hotel in Las Vegas from May through July. The filing noted that he’d be staying at another poker player’s home, and not in a hotel.

RELATED: ONLINE POKER RETURNS WITH FIRST LEGAL WEBSITE

Schneider maintained his client has been playing by the rules.

“Whenever the probation person wants him to check in, he checks in. He’s never missed an appointment,” Schneider said. “He’s done everything he’s supposed to.”

A spokeswoman for the U.S. attorney’s office declined comment on the case.

dgregorian@nydailynews.com

Article source: http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/poker-pro-charged-marijuana-distribution-travel-article-1.1359222

TUI Travel picks Boeing for 60-plane order worth $6 billion


LONDON |
Fri May 31, 2013 6:12am EDT

LONDON (Reuters) – British travel firm TUI Travel agreed to buy 60 mid-range Boeing jets with an option for 90 more, moving to make its fleet more fuel-efficient and delivering the U.S. planemaker a big contract win over European rival Airbus.

The world’s largest tour operator, which owns six European airlines including Britain’s Thomson Airways, said on Friday the initial order of Boeing (BA.N) 737 MAX planes was secured at a “significant discount” to the list price of $6.09 billion.

The planes, to be powered by CFM LEAP-1B engines, are scheduled for delivery between January 2018 and March 2023, TUI Travel (TT.L) said

It said such a large deal would represent a class 1 transaction, meaning it would require shareholder approval.

“TUI Travel have 59 leases on planes expiring over the next three years so the fact they are looking to buy these planes shows the strength of the company,” said Oriel Securities analyst Jeffrey Harwood, who added that cutting its fuel bill was a big motivation for the group.

Several European carriers have seen profits battered by high fuel costs – which now account for around half of airlines’ operating expenditure – in recent years.

Boeing has said the 737 MAX, which competes with Airbus’ (EAD.PA) A320neo, will burn 13 percent less fuel than current 737 models.

Reuters reported earlier this year that TUI Travel was close to sealing a deal for 60 narrow-body airliners.

EASYJET NEXT?

Boeing is also competing with Airbus to supply British low-cost airline easyJet (EZJ.L) with new planes.

EasyJet is edging towards a firm order for at least 100 A320neo or 737 MAX planes jets worth around $10 billion, with as many again in options, sources close to the deal said, adding that the European planemaker was the favorite.

EasyJet, which operates an all-Airbus fleet of 213 aircraft, ideally wants to remain a single-manufacturer fleet, but is considering moving entirely to Boeing planes.

TUI Travel, whose airlines use 141 aircraft, received the first of 13 long-haul Boeing 787 Dreamliners planes on Friday.

“Being able to offer our customers the most advanced, comfortable aircraft, whether they are travelling with us to short or long-haul destinations, while reducing our environmental impact, will only strengthen our position,” said TUI Travel Chief Executive Peter Long.

Shares in TUI Travel, which is 56 percent owned by Germany’s TUI AG (TUIGn.DE), were 1.4 percent down at 357.9 pence by 0910 GMT, valuing the company at around 4 billion pounds.

(Additional reporting by Tim Hepher and Sarah Young; editing by Kate Holton, John Stonestreet)

Article source: http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/05/31/us-tuitravel-aircraft-idUSBRE94U0FN20130531