Thursday, November 20, 2014

The sound of a historic achievement

Scientists listen to the thud of Philae hitting the comet

Yup, scientifically speaking, when Philae landed, it made a sound, which was dutifully recorded. You can listen to it at the link.

It occurred to me that next year humanity will have probes in orbit around Mercury, Venus, Mars, Saturn, a comet, and an asteroid (Ceres). Another planetary probe will be flying by Pluto next year, too.



Speaking of energy efficiency

I pretty much agree with the The Post View on this:

The Senate should revive a bipartisan energy efficiency bill

"Energy is among the most polarizing issues in Washington, dividing coal-staters from environmentalists and often stranding pragmatists in between. But Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) wrote a bill that avoids every major policy landmine, basing their proposal on the unassailable principle that the country should waste less energy.   [How quaint.]

The pair aim to close the so-called efficiency gap — the perhaps 10, 20 or 30 percent energy savings that can be had at no disadvantage to lifestyle or living standards."
Definitely worth a try.  It might mean (gasp!) offering upfront payment plans or rebates for homeowners to get rid of old, energy-wasting appliances and replace them with sleek new modern more-efficient ones;  something that I've advocated for many, many years.  The net result would be more spending cash for consumers. 

So how's this going to work?

The Washington Post writes about the plans of our new Hogan Hero Governor to stand up for the common man:

Maryland Governor-Elect Larry Hogan says budget gap won't prevent tax rollbacks


"In addition to the shortfall in the coming budget, the state is still dealing with a shortfall of nearly $300 million in the budget for this fiscal year. Hogan said he would await the results from a team he has assembled to comb through the budget before making specific decisions about where to cut. He also suggested that he may continue to offer changes during the course of next year — possibly including a special legislative session.

As he did during the campaign, the governor-elect said he believes that he can find “a couple billion” dollars’ worth of savings in the current state budget, based on audits done over several years."

Really?  A couple billion?  In a state budget of about $40 billion?  As they say in Missouri:  "Show me".  Can't wait to see what he thinks isn't important in this state.  I'm guessing he'll end up cutting "wasteful" spending on education, environmental protection, and energy efficiency programs (the three "E's").

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Vote for the best Smithsonian wilderness picture

Just passing this along:  every day you can vote for the best wilderness picture in the Smithsonian Wilderness Forever online exhibition. To do that, go here.

If you want to see all the pictures vying for your vote in a medium format (to speed things up), go here (Facebook).

I wouldn't want to influence your vote, but this one is good - striking and unusual.  I recommend seeing it larger than this, of course. 

I'm a big fan of the vista type scenery shot, and there are some really good ones of that type in the gallery, too.

Lone Evergreen in Aspens:  Maroon Bells - Snowmass Wilderness, Colorado, by Benjamin Walls 

(Clicking on the picture makes it bigger)

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Just a brief check-in with Monaco's expectations

I hadn't seen an update on the heiry Monaco situation for awhile, so I was happy to see this Daily Mail update from the Principality.

Princess Charlene, due in about two months with twins, doesn't look as large as one might expect when one is expecting twins (unlike Zoe Saldana, who is definitely showing what that looks like).  But Charlene is a tall woman so she might not look as large with the double bump, unlike Zoe, who is small and slender, and therefore upon whom the womb with two looks more like a blimp than a bump.  (I think Zoe Saldana is spectacular, so this is not criticism, it's admiration for demonstrating what the female body is capable of).

Well, back to Monaco:

Princess Charlene's parents decamp to Monaco ahead of royal birth next month - and say they will treat their new grandchildren 'just like our other ones'

Monday, November 17, 2014

Volcanic artifacts from St. Pierre

Just a few posts ago I said that one of five movies I'd like to see made would be a realistic one about the Mount Pelee eruption that destroyed the city of St. Pierre, Martinique.    Given the advances in CGI special effects even since Dante's Peak, the volcanic eruption should look pretty good (imagine Pompeii, but with turn of the century Caribbean French people).  But it was also a story about staying in town when everyone should have gotten out before the volcano unleashed its nuee ardente - not that anybody really knew it would.

Well, interestingly, a museum exhibit opened that displayed artifacts from St. Pierre, collected soon after the devastating eruption.  The amount of heat that would fuse stacks of glasses in a restaurant is phenomenal. 

Photos and Melted Artifacts from a Horrific Volcano Disaster

Lighthouse of the Week, November 16-22, 2014: Point Judith, RI

I decided to go with the well-known, rustic-looking but still glamorous, Point Judith Light, Narragansett, Rhode Island.

Background, Point Judith Light 

Point Judith Light by Frank Grace (Flickr)

Point Judith Light by Jeremy D'Entremont (Flickr)

Point Judith Light by Mallory (

Point Judith Light Stamp