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24 Jun 2016 
Researchers have developed a new technology that aims to make the Advanced Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) even more sensitive to gravitational waves - faint ripples in space-time.

The team from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Australian National University report on improvements to what is called a squeezed vacuum source.

Although not part of the original Advanced LIGO design, injecting the new squeezed vacuum source into the LIGO detector could help double its sensitivity.

(Also see: Meet LIGO, the World's Most Sophisticated Science Machines)

This will allow detection of gravitational waves that are far weaker or that originate from farther away than is possible now.

"There are many processes in the universe that are inherently dark; they don't give off light of any colour," said Nergis Mavalvala from MIT Kavli Institute for Astrophysics and Space Research.

"Since many of those processes involve gravity, we want to observe the universe using gravity as a messenger," Mavalvala said in a paper that appeared in the Optica.

Scientists at Advanced LIGO announced the first-ever observation of gravitational waves earlier this year - a century after Albert Einstein predicted their existence in his general theory of relativity.

Studying gravitational waves can reveal important information about cataclysmic astrophysical events involving black holes and neutron stars.

Researchers from the California Institute of Technology and MIT conceived, built, and operate identical Advanced LIGO detectors in Livingston, Louisiana and Hanford, Washington.

Each observatory uses a 2.5-mile-long optical device known as an interferometer to detect gravitational waves coming from distant events, such as the collision of two black holes detected last year.

The researchers are planning to add their new squeezed vacuum source to Advanced LIGO in the next year or so.

Once implemented, it will improve the sensitivity of the gravitational detectors, particularly at the higher frequencies important for understanding the composition of neutron stars.

These extremely dense stars contain the mass of the sun, which has a radius of 700,000 km, within just a 10-km diameter.

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15 Apr 2016 
Story highlightsProsecutor took second look at evidence in caseRichard Schmack concluded that man convicted is innocentJack McCullough could go free as early as Friday But on Friday, a prosecutor will tell a judge for the third time in as many weeks that McCullough is innocent. He will join McCullough's lawyers in asking Judge James Brady to throw out the conviction. And then the prosecutor, Richard Schmack, will move to dismiss the case, he has said, allowing McCullough to go free.McCullough, now 75, was convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison in 2012; an Illinois appeals court upheld the conviction last year. But that conviction, Schamck insists, was based on false testimony, improper legal rulings controlling the evidence presented, and a timeline that was tweaked some 50 years after the fact to rule out McCullough's alibi. McCullough has long insisted that he couldn't possibly have abducted and killed the child because he was 40 miles away in Rockford, Illinois, talking to recruiters and trying to enlist in the U.S. Air Force. Schmack, the DeKalb County state's attorney, inherited the case from predecessor Clay Campbell. He took a second look at the evidence as McCullough pushed ahead with a last-ditch appeal. The jailhouse motion, written by hand in neat block letters, said police and prosecutors buried evidence supporting his alibi. Schmack launched a six-month investigation that included a review of some 4,500 pages of documents -- old police and FBI reports, grand jury transcripts, trial transcripts, affidavits for search and arrest warrants, and even CNN's five-part series on the case, "Taken," which raised questions about whether the courtroom reconstruction of history was unfairly one-sided.Schmack concluded that he'd found "clear and convincing evidence" that McCullough had been convicted of a crime he didn't commit. The prosecutor subpoenaed records from AT&T and found that a collect call had indeed been placed at 6:57 p.m. to McCullough's home in Sycamore from a pay phone at the post office in downtown Rockford on on December 3, 1957-- just as McCullough said he had done. Schmack also built a timeline based on the statements of 21 people -- Maria Ridulph's family members, friends, neighbors and passersby -- that confirmed the FBI's original timeline ruling McCullough out as a suspect.Maria Ridulph was taken from a street corner in Sycamore, Illinois, in December 1957.Maria Ridulph was taken from a street corner in Sycamore, Illinois, in December 1957.Maria was taken that day some time between 6:45 and 7 p.m. -- and not as early as 6 p.m., as alleged during McCullough's trial. It would have been impossible for him to have been in two places at once. Schmack's timeline was framed around one indisputable fact: the 6:57 p.m. phone call. And he worked to pin down the last time Maria was seen on the corner of Center Cross Street and Archie Place. She had accepted two piggyback rides from a young man who gave his name as "Johnny," and had retrieved a doll to show him. When playmate Kathy Sigman returned from a quick trip home to fetch her mittens, she said, both Maria and Johnny were gone.Family members and friends recalled in 1957 that they were watching "Cheyenne" and "Name That Tune" -- television shows that began at 6:30 p.m.-- while the girls played outside on the corner. And so, Schmack says, it was impossible that Maria was taken before 6:30. Maria's mother, Frances Ridulph, drove to the Sycamore police station and reported her daughter missing at 8:10 p.m. Some 600 people searched through the night for the girl, and the FBI took over the case the next morning. Maria's body was found 144 days later, under a fallen tree more than 100 miles from Sycamore. McCullough's new lawyers, who are defending him without compensation, initially sought a new trial. They asked for the chance to retry the case with the benefit of all the evidence, including 1957 FBI reports that show he was cleared after his alibi checked out. The FBI reports had been barred from his trial as inadmissible "hearsay." But, as an appeals court found, they could have come in as "ancient documents" because they are more than 20 years old. Still, the appeals court upheld McCullough's murder conviction, saying that the ruling barring the reports was "harmless error" that would not have affected the outcome of the trial. (It reversed the convictions for kidnapping and abduction of an infant because of legal technicalities unrelated to the judge's rulings on the evidence.)But as Friday's hearing approached, McCullough's lawyers also asked for a finding of innocence and his immediate release. They noted in court papers that the request is unopposed. Prosecutor Richard Schmack reviewed the conviction and wants McCullough freed.Prosecutor Richard Schmack reviewed the conviction and wants McCullough freed.In court papers filed earlier this week, Schmack asked Brady to find McCullough "factually innocent." Barring any unforeseen twists -- and this case has been full of them -- McCullough could walk out of the courthouse a free man, once again cloaked in the presumption of innocence, his lawyers say. Chicago attorneys Gabe Fuentes and Shaun Van Horn joined the defense late last month. Earlier this week, they filed their formal appeal, giving it a weighty title: "Amended post-conviction petition demonstrating actual innocence." It relies heavily on Schmack's findings: "Newly discovered evidence has emerged to corroborate his Rockford alibi and to show the falsity of the evidence offered by the state about the time of the abduction in Sycamore," they stated in court filings. "The FBI accurately concluded, following an extensive and thorough investigation in 1957, that Maria Ridulph was abducted near the corner of Center Cross and Archie in Sycamore, Illinois, between 6:45 and 7 p.m. on December 3, 1957." The state's theory that the girl was kidnapped earlier was pure conjecture, McCullough's lawyers insist. "There was not then, nor is there now, a reasonable hypothesis for, or evidence supporting, an earlier time for the abduction" in any of the police and FBI reports from 1957-58. "The FBI accurately concluded in 1957 that it is an absolute physical impossibility for anyone to have placed a collect call from inside this public building in Rockford at 6:57 p.m. and also to have participated in the abduction of Maria Ridulph in Sycamore, and there was nothing incorrect in their conclusion that (McCullough) was not involved." Rather than challenging the assertion, as a prosecutor would in almost any other case, Schmack joined McCullough's lawyers in asking Brady to throw out the conviction. He said he believes McCullough is innocent and won't be seeking to retry him. Instead, his court papers state he will dismiss the case with prejudice, meaning the charges can't be brought again. Charles Ridulph, the slain girl&#39;s brother, explains why he&#39;s requesting a special prosecutor. Charles Ridulph, the slain girl&#39;s brother, explains why he&#39;s requesting a special prosecutor. Charles Ridulph, the slain girl's older brother, filed a last-minute request for a continuance. He said an attorney he recently hired can't be in Sycamore for the hearing. He is seeking appointment of a special prosecutor.Ridulph has accused Schmack of "abandoning" Maria, just as her killer abandoned her in the woods. He has said the prosecutor is acting more like a defense attorney.But McCullough's lawyers, while expressing empathy for Ridulph, insist in court filings that he has no standing under Illinois law to make the special prosecutor request. Special prosecutors are appointed only if a prosecutor has a conflict of interest, either financially or personally. A special prosecutor can't be appointed simply because a victim's family disagrees with the decision, they said. "Despite the understandable grief that Mr. Ridulph feels for the loss of his sister and emotional turmoil that the discovery of Mr. McCullough's innocence has caused him, Petitioner Jack D. McCullough's life and freedom are at stake amid the prosecutor's conclusion of his actual innocence," his lawyers wrote. Brady has indicated that he won't be rushed in his decision since the circumstances surrounding the case are so unusual that there's no legal precedent for him to follow. "I have some obligation to make sure I understand the position of both parties," Brady said at the last court hearing, on April 1. "I don't just have your opinion or your client's opinion, and the state's opinion. I also have the opinion of a trial judge and an appellate court. I think it's premature for me to start commenting on what I think about any of that."
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24 Jan 2016 
HVAC Contractors In NJ may help you acquire your house functioning just as before. What is HVAC? It's what warms you in the winter and cools you in the summer. Are you having issues with your current set-up? Would you like to install something new like an upgrade? To find out more about the situation, check out the advice that can be found below.

Ask for referrals when hiring someone to install your HVAC system. Someone may seem like they know what they are doing, but you cannot simply take their word for it. You should be able to call past customers to get an idea of what to expect from this particular installer.

If you want to know more about efficiently heating or cooling your home, go online and download the ENERGY STAR Guide. It provides information for homeowners to learn more about how they can save money while still keeping their home comfortable all year round, so it is a worthy ready.

Do not be surprised if the HVAC contractor you choose does an evaluation on your home. Any good contractor will spend time looking at the system you currently have and what the needs are for your home. They will also take a look at your duct system and look for air leaks.

Get any agreement with an HVAC contractor in writing. Some contractors try to skip over this charge and step customers a fortune. They cannot go back and change this information if you have a certain price and warranty in writing. If they do, they could have a lawsuit on their hands.

Make sure you have your HVAC system checked at least twice a year. This should be done in Fall and Spring to prepare it for the extreme months. It doesn't matter if your unit seems to be properly working, it is still advisable that you perform maintenance and resolve any potential problems.

The energy efficiency of a unit should be taken into consideration when purchasing a new heating and cooling system. Although you should be concerned about the price of a unit, the efficiency of the unit will save you thousands over the lifetime of the heating and cooling system and should weigh heavily on your buying decision.

To help keep your energy costs down, have your heating and cooling system serviced at least once a year. During your service visit, the serviceman will inspect the unit's motor, oil the unit's moving parts and ensure the unit has proper freon levels. Your unit will last longer this way.

Consider putting a standing fan next to your bed if you want to turn off your air conditioning at night to save money. You can set it to oscillate from your toes to your head, blowing cool air over your body and letting you sleep comfortably all night long.

Preferably twice, per year, though you should have your HVAC system inspected at least once. This visit will include a motor inspection and checking the freon. This will keep you energy comfortable and efficient.

Put a radiant barrier in your attic and what your HVAC performance improve. This mechanism will prevent outside heat from coming in, reducing your energy consumption when cooling. The attic can become another useful living space if it's done right.

Go to people that you ask and know for recommendations when it is time for you to hire an HVAC contractor. People who've had great service are usually willing to tell of it. This can also help you to figure out some names of businesses that you should avoid at all costs.

Try to stay away from HVAC contractors that ask for upfront payments before they are willing to get started on the work they were hired to do. In many cases, this means that they are more concerned about getting paid than they are about making sure the job is done well.

Every year hire someone to give your HVAC unit routine maintenance. This will ensure that it works properly throughout the entire year. It will also allow you to have lower cooling and heating bills. When your HVAC is running properly, it will use the least amount of energy and save you money.

Choose a good HVAC company. You need to find one that has a solid reputation. It's hvac important that it has been around for several years and is backed by a good reputation in customer service. Find one that has trained professionals and qualified technicians to help with all kinds of customer needs. They should be able to handle any HVAC job no matter how simple or complex.

For top efficiency, figure out what direction your home faces. It's possible to block some of the morning sunlight so your home won't become overheated if you strategically place trees. Your AC will work less if there's less heat inside your home.

When dealing with HVAC contractors, make sure that you get everything in writing. While verbal contracts are legal in many places, it is usually very difficult to prove them. Having everything on paper is a great way to make sure that no ons is confused about any aspect of the process.

An HVAC system is expensive. Therefore, you want to make sure that you work with a reputable contractor or company to ensure that you get the most from your investment. Always get references from anyone that you are considering working with, and make sure to follow up on each of those references.

Consider what potential direction your air conditioner's flow will have when choosing where to put it. Buy one that lets the air flow to be redirected so that it is not flowing towards the wall if you're stuck with putting it in a corner.

If the HVAC contractor assumes a "one size fits all" approach to installing your unit, look elsewhere. In order for the system to be right for your home, the contractor needs to come out, find your air ducts, and generally get a feeling for how your home is laid out. If he or she does not do that, move on.

The idea of having to hire an HVAC professional may seem daunting if you don't have the right knowledge. The right knowledge makes the process less daunting, however. Now, hopefully are feeling prepared to get help as soon as you can when you have a problem with your HVAC systems.

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05 Dec 2015 news services

Free-agent pitcher Zack Greinke has agreed to a six-year deal with the Arizona Diamondbacks, according to ESPN and multiple media reports.

The deal is worth a total of $206 million, a source told ESPN's Pedro Gomez.

Zack Greinke was the best player on the market and his deal with the Diamondbacks should work out. But Arizona still isn't a playoff team.

The Dodgers balked at giving a sixth guaranteed year to 32-year-old Zack Greinke, who has thrown more than 33,000 major-league pitches.

The Diamondbacks scooped Zack Greinke away from their NL West rivals, the Dodgers and Giants, winning one for the little guy.

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Sources familiar with Greinke's negotiations told ESPN's Jerry Crasnick that Greinke had been seeking a deal with an average annual value of $31.5 million or $32 million, slightly higher than the $31 million a year that David Price commanded in his seven-year, $217 million contract with the Boston Red Sox.

While Price's deal with Boston includes an opt-out after three years, there is no opt-out in Greinke's agreement, a MLB source told Crasnick.

With their late push, the Diamondbacks spirited Greinke away from their top two division rivals, the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants, both of whom made signing him a top priority this offseason.

Greinke, 32, led the major leagues this past season with a 1.66 ERA, the lowest in 20 years, and an 0.84 WHIP, teaming with Clayton Kershaw to give the Dodgers one of the greatest one-two pitching punches in baseball history. Despite those two starting four of the five games against the New York Mets, however, the Dodgers lost the National League Division Series in five games, with Greinke taking the loss in Game 5.

He finished second in NL Cy Young Award voting behind Jake Arrieta of the Chicago Cubs.

In November, Greinke opted out of the remaining three years and $71 million of a contract he signed with the Dodgers in the winter of 2012.

Starts6W-L6-0ERA0.65K-BB41-7Opp BA.199WHIP0.87>>Best ERA by visiting P since 2013-- ESPN Stats & Information

"We made a very strong offer to retain Zack but clearly he found a deal that fit better for him and his family," Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said in a statement Friday. "We are now hard at work on our alternatives. We wish Zack, Emily and Bode all the bet going forward."

The Dodgers' final offer was for five years, a source said.

The $34.3 average annual value of Greinke's contract is the most ever for a pitcher, topping the $31 million average annual value of Price and Detroit Tigers slugger Miguel Cabrera, according to ESPN Stats & Information. Kershaw's contract extension with the Dodgers in 2014 was for $215 million ($30.7 million), and Max Scherzer signed a seven-year, $210 million deal with the Nationals last winter ($30 million).

Greinke's contract of $206 million is larger than all the major league free-agent contracts the Diamondbacks handed out in the previous eight offseasons combined ($201.725 million for 28 players), according to ESPN Stats & Info.

Arizona entered the offseason on a mission to find a No. 1 starter to lead a young rotation that includes Patrick Corbin, Rubby De La Rosa, Robbie Ray and Chase Anderson. In November, a delegation led by team president Derrick Hall, chief baseball officer Tony La Russa and general manager Dave Stewart traveled to the Dominican Republic to make an offer to free-agent right-hander Johnny Cueto. But when Cueto spurned the Diamondbacks' six-year, $120 million offer, Arizona management was forced to re-assess. The team's revised game plan led to Greinke.

Arizona finished third in the NL West this season with a 79-83 record. But the Diamondbacks have a solid position-player core headed by first baseman Paul Goldschmidt, who finished second to Bryce Harper in the NL MVP race, and center fielder A.J. Pollock, who made the All-Star team and won a Gold Glove and a Silver Slugger Award this season.

The Greinke signing is a major step toward upgrading an Arizona pitching staff that ranked ninth in the league with a 4.04 ERA in 2015.

A Florida native, Greinke won the 2009 American League Cy Young award with the Kansas City Royals before a 2010 trade to the Milwaukee Brewers.

A candid, somewhat reclusive personality, Greinke missed most of the 2006 season with what the Royals later described as social anxiety disorder.

Last season, Greinke began drawing comparisons to Hall of Famer Greg Maddux because of his brilliant command, excellent changeup and his Gold Glove-level fielding ability. He also is one of the best pitchers in baseball at hitting. He batted .224 with two doubles and two home runs last season.

In 12 big league seasons, Greinke is 142-93 with a 3.35 ERA.

ESPN's Jerry Crasnick, Jim Bowden and Mark Saxon contributed to this report.

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29 Nov 2015 
Story highlights Official says suspect talked about "baby parts" after putting down his gunSuspect Robert Dear, 57, is held without bail and set to appear in court Monday afternoonPlanned Parenthood says suspect was motivated by opposition to abortionLaw enforcement officials caution it's too early to determine a motive in the case until all evidence is gathered and examined. That process is still ongoing. Though the state is taking the lead, the FBI is conducting its own investigation to determine whether federal charges would be filed.

The official told CNN that propane tanks were found in the area of Dear's car in the parking lot, and authorities say they believe he was trying to shoot them to cause an explosion.

The siege ended Friday when the suspect dropped his gun and surrendered in a hallway once the SWAT team brought in a BearCat armored vehicle and Dear was cornered.

'crime against women'Attorney General Loretta Lynch has called the shooting, which killed three people and wounded nine more, a "crime against women;" Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper has said it's "a tragedy that is beyond speech."

Among the victims was Garrett Swasey, a University of Colorado-Colorado Springs police officer who rushed to the clinic to offer his assistance. "There was no way any of us could have kept him here," UCCS Police Chief Brian McPike said of Swasey during a Saturday evening vigil. "He was always willing to go...he had an enthusiasm that was hard to quell."

Officer Garrett Swasey was killed in Friday&#39;s Planned Parenthood shooting.Officer Garrett Swasey was killed in Friday&#39;s Planned Parenthood shooting.Colorado Springs Police Chief Peter Carey said that the identities of the other two victims likely will not be released until Monday, after autopsies have been performed.

In addition to the three killed, five officers and four civilians were hospitalized for wounds sustained in the shooting. Lt. Catherine Buckley said Friday night all were in good condition. By late Saturday afternoon, officials said five patients remained in two hospitals.

One of those is Colorado Springs SWAT team officer Dan Carter, according to his parents, who told CNN that their son was recovering from a gunshot wound.

Opposition to abortion eyed as motive"I'm not going to say the perpetrator's name," a sullen Hickenlooper said Saturday, referring to Dear, the man authorities suspect was the shooter.

Dear, 57, is being held without bail in a Colorado Springs jail, according to the El Paso County Sheriff's Office.

Planned Parenthood shooting suspect Robert Dear.Planned Parenthood shooting suspect Robert Dear.While authorities said that a motive had not yet been established, Mayor John Suthers said "inferences (could be made) from where it took place," the Denver Post reported.

Vicki Cowart, president of Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains, went beyond an inference, saying the shooter "was motivated by opposition to safe and legal abortion." Lynch, who called the "unconscionable attack" a "crime against women receiving health care services," pledged the full resources of her office for the investigation.

Planned Parenthood, which delivers reproductive health care and sex education to women and men across the United States, has come under attack before.

At least three Planned Parenthood buildings have been vandalized since September, when the organization was criticized in Washington and by some Republican presidential candidates after an anti-abortion group released videos alleging that it sold fetal organs and parts for profit. Planned Parenthood has disputed the veracity of the videos, contending that they are heavily edited and provide a distorted account.

More about Planned Parenthood

Who is Robert Lewis Dear?Based on a public records search, Dear appears to have lived in Colorado for only about a year. In October 2014, Dear purchased property in Hartsel, a rural community about 65 miles west of the clinic, for $6,000. Zigmond Post, a neighbor, said one of the few interactions he had was when Dear brought him some anti-Obama pamphlets. "That's about all I've run into him," he said.

Prior to Hartsel, Dear appears to have spent much of his life in the Carolinas.

WLOS, a CNN affiliate in Asheville, North Carolina, photographed a dilapidated-looking mountain cabin that Dear reportedly called home in rural Buncombe County. The sheriff's office there said they only had one recorded contact with Dear, a civil citation issued in 2014 for allowing his dogs to run wild.

A decade before that, Dear was arrested and charged with two counts of animal cruelty while living in South Carolina, but he was found not guilty in a 2003 bench trial. In 2002, Dear was charged with being a peeping tom; those counts were dismissed in South Carolina. In 1997, Dear's wife accused him of domestic assault, although no charges were pressed, according to records provided by the Colleton County, South Carolina Sheriff's Office.

Dear is scheduled to appear at 1:30 p.m. Monday before Chief Judge Gilbert Martinez, El Paso County court spokesman Rob McCallum said.

Scanners capture police plansConversations captured over the police scanner gave glimpses into the drama as well as the strategic debate about what to do.

Despite initial fears that the gunman might be running around outside, authorities later determined that he was inside the Planned Parenthood building -- once he got through the front door -- throughout the siege, Buckley said.

Joan Motolinia's sister was among those inside. She called her brother Friday afternoon, and "I heard the shooting," a tearful Motolinia said.

Fear, horror, disbelief among witnesses

"She couldn't say much because she was afraid," he said.

Kentanya Craion, who had visited the clinic for an ultrasound, said she saw the gunman shooting as she left outside in the parking lot, so she turned around and ran back inside. "He had no remorse," Craion said. "This was just a game to him."

Obama: 'Enough is enough'In a statement Saturday, President Barack Obama didn't mention the controversies surrounding Planned Parenthood, but he did offer praise for Swasey, condolences to the families of the victims and condemnation of the attack as another example of gun violence.

"The last thing Americans should have to do, over the holidays or any day, is comfort the families of people killed by gun violence -- people who woke up in the morning and bid their loved ones goodbye with no idea it would for the last time," Obama said. "And yet, two days after Thanksgiving, that's what we are forced to do again."

As he has time and again after mass shootings, the President called on policymakers to do something to prevent them.

"This is not normal. We can't let it become normal," he said. "If we truly care about this -- if we're going to offer up our thoughts and prayers again, for God knows how many times, with a truly clean conscience -- then we have to do something about the easy accessibility of weapons of war on our streets to people who have no business yielding them.

"Period. Enough is enough."

CNN's Dan Simon, Catherine E. Shoichet, Amanda Watts, Carma Hassan, Amanda Watts, Faith Karimi, Dani Stewart, Joe Sutton, Jason Hanna, Josh Berlinger, Kim Hutcherson, Michael Martinez and Nelson Quiones contributed to this report.

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