Tuesday, March 31, 2009
And that's apparently just natural stuff. As for the unnatural junk, the European Space Agency is having a conference about that problem right now.
Monday, March 30, 2009
After Shuttle's Success, NASA Aims to Save Hubble
This mission is critical; that nothing goes wrong. Because of something does go wrong, we'll have to leave a Shuttle in space (and launch a rescue mission, which has never been done before, and that has the potential of failing too, which could leave two shuttles stranded in space and around 8 astronauts dying slowly of suffocation -- NOT a pretty picture). Now, remember, when I was discussing space junk, NASA now estimates that there's a 1-in-185 chance of a space junk "encounter" on this mission. Also not good, because "encounter" means a powerful bang at around 17,000 miles an hour. (Speaking of space junk: Mysterious East Coast Boom Was Falling Russian Rocket)
OK -- so if you had a 1-in-185 chance of winning a million dollars, would you put down a $1K bill on the bet?
That kinda puts it in perspective, doesn't it?
On a lighter note, heck of a picture of the ISS:
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
New head of NOAA says science will guide policy
That's an "uh-oh" headline, because the conservative thinktanks will be gunning for anyone who claims that climate is changing (which is what science has established, of course) as well as someone who might put the clamps on free exploitation of resources.
Well, at least she thinks positively:
"It is important to emphasize that jobs and a healthy environment go hand in hand," she said. "That's true on land and true in the ocean. As we think about recovering the economy, creating jobs, one key to doing that is to have jobs that are green jobs and jobs that are working toward a healthy environment.
"I think we can revive our fisheries, and the economies and communities that they support. I think we can improve weather forecasting and disaster warnings. I think we can provide credible information about climate change and ocean acidification to the country. And I think we can protect and restore our coastal ecosystems."
OK, you can provide credible information, but what about the nutcases that don't?
Province supplying Beijing water drying up: state media
"Hebei, part of China's parched north, is one of the major suppliers of water to neighbouring Beijing and Tianjin -- two sprawling cities that together group at least 28 million people and are running out of the resource.
China's rapid economic expansion has helped deplete its water supplies and has long been one of the country's major concerns."
If there isn't much water upstream, there will be less downstream.
Believe it or not, they're going to divert the Yangtze to quench Beijing's thirst. That's some serious geo-engineering.
"China is in the process of building the multi-billion dollar North-South Water Diversion Project to bring water from the nation's longest river, the Yangtze, to the parched north."
Between that, the Three Rivers Gorge Dam, and the bridge over Hangzhou Bay, China is making a serious effort to remodel the landscape to serve its people. There's a limit to how far that will work, I imagine.
This is for Hrynyshyn
Well, another experiment has tested the iron fertilization potential for climate mitigation -- and finds it lacking, as I (and probably many others far more knowledgeable than I) have already pointed out.
Climate scientists admit defeat in ocean experiment
The problem: Ocean critters eating ocean plants (i.e. algae), i.e., doing what comes naturally.
"However, the scientists from India's National Institute of Oceanography (NIO) and Germany's Alfred Wegener Institute (AWI) did not count on these phytoplankton being eaten by tiny crustacean zooplankton."
Well, I coulda told 'em that might happen.
Saturday, March 21, 2009
And they are:
Global warming leaving its mark on polar bears
So the "numbers of polar bears are fine" smokescreen is just that -- a rhetorical ploy conceived in the devious home office of Climate Skeptics, Inc., widely used and widely broadcast. But the polar bears are not fine, and the inclusion of their endangerment under the ESA is justified.
The problem is, doing what needs to be done to protect polar bears is just about the most difficult thing that mankind has ever attempted. Put it this way -- when the canary dies in the mine, the situation is obviously not good. What needs to be done is to fix the situation before the canary dies -- because that's good for the miners. If the polar bears are our environmental canary (and as magnificent megafauna they carry a high degree of symbolism, even though the
pika might be a better canary), then by the time the polar bear numbers will obviously be in serious decline, the situation will be much more serious for us humans as well.
So go ahead and use the polar bear protection issue to push change in climate and energy use. It's good for the miners.
Check out Vassey's career on IMDb: Liz Vassey
A classic picture of pretty Vassey:
But this is probably the hottest: (click to enjoy)
LaRue has bounced (literally) around a bit too, since and during AMC (I thought she'd exited for good earlier than 2007, but not according to IMDb). She was noted for playing Annette Funicello (good choice there); showed up on "Third Watch", as a "Modern Girl", and "Soul Food"; and now she's Natalia Boa Vista on CSI: Miami. OK, let me just say that name is fabulous, anyway. It's got exoticism (Natalia), a snake (Boa), and a view (Vista). Who could ask for anything more? Not me, anyway.
LaRue being incredible:
Count this a Cute (well, actually abnormally Hot) Soap Opera Actress Appreciation Day #2.
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
"What haunts scientists most, many said, is the feeling that -- despite an overwhelming consensus on the science -- they are not able to convey to a wider public just how close Earth is to climate catastrophe."
Add to that: ocean acidification attacking coral reefs; overfishing depleting the oceans of big beautiful pelagics and multitudes of schooling fish; floating plastic and ghost nets; and garbage dumps on the bottom of the Celebes Sea (look at all the pictures -- most are spectacular, one is sobering).
Sometimes I feel like Solomon Roth in "Soylent Green".
In case you hadn't heard, a few days ago there was an astronomical event; four transits of Saturn (i.e. shadows from the moons on the cloud tops) at essentially the same time. Below is a picture, and then the link is to an animation. My question: observing time on the Hubble is valuable. They kept the 'scope focused on Saturn for How Long?
Saturn Photographed with Four Moons
Click on the link that says "transiting in front of Saturn".
Answer: more than 3 hours. But it sure doesn't happen very often, so it was probably worth it.
Monday, March 16, 2009
Now, I don't do NCAA brackets, but I do follow the tournament. Because I follow what's happening in Baltimore, good to see Morgan State in this year, as I was pretty pleased University of Maryland - Baltimore County got in last year. (And last year University of Maryland - College Park, the Terps, DIDN'T go. But UMD is an entertaining bunch this year with one star and a bunch of role players, and that can go a certain distance.) It's a shame Stephen Curry's in the NIT, he's fun to watch.
I have one little idea to make the end of many games go a bit faster. Each time a team commits a defensive foul in the last two minutes they lose a timeout, first the full timeouts until they're used up, then the 30-second timeouts.
I'll be a bit more intellectual tomorrow. I promise.
Sunday, March 15, 2009
The World Wildlife Fund's Polar Bear Lies
A bit of this: "Trouble is, it’s all a lie. Not one word of the ad is true. Polar Bears are not endangered. There is no indication of any reduction of their populations. In fact, they are actually being hunted by locals who have to live with them in an effort to keep their populations down. Of 13 Polar Bear populations, 11 are thriving and growing."
and in addition:
"Using the Polar Bear, which WWF and the Sierra Club managed to get listed on the Endangered Species (ESA) list last year, the greens can grab control of the U.S. economy, controlling energy production."
So how'd the WWF and the Sierra Club manage to get the polar bear listed? Well, it really wasn't them. It was dedicated scientists of the Fish and Wildlife Service, aided and abetted by dedicated (and very good) academic scientists. So that's why we then look at:
Rapid action needed to save polar bears from climate change: WWF
which includes: ""No sea ice equates no polar bears. It's really that simple," WWF polar bear expert Geoff York told reporters."
as well as
"As many as two thirds of the 20-25,000 polar bears that roam the Arctic could disappear within the next 50 years due to global warming, according to recent estimates from the US Geological Survey (USGS) and the International Union for Conservation of Nature."
Key element: NOBODY disagrees about current numbers. What they disagree about is what's going to happen as the polar bears habitat disappears. With that in mind, I offer the following:
Berwick’s Passenger Pigeon past
which has in it: "At home in the primary forest that once covered North America east of the Rocky Mountains, the Passenger Pigeon was probably the most numerous of birds on the planet in the 1800s. Similar to but larger than the Mourning Dove, these birds had a light blue head and rump, slate grey back and wine-red breast. The pointed white and grey tail was eight to nine inches long, the long slender wings bluish, the eyes deep scarlet. The short slender bill was designed to suit a diet of acorns, beechnuts, chestnuts, fruits, grains and insects. Both genders were beautiful, but the males were especially colourful.
Scientists believe Passenger Pigeons made up as much of 40 per cent of the total bird population at one time, with total estimates of as many as five billion in North America. Flocks a mile wide and up to 300 miles long were so dense, they darkened the skies for hours at a time as they passed overhead. From a distance, the spectacle, along with the roar of wings, appeared much like an incoming tornado. This amazing bird was designed for flight, reaching speeds of 60 to 70 miles and hour - and possibly more."
and also this (note my colorful underlining):
"There were several factors that brought this magnificent species to an end. They were shot for sport, but also tens of thousands of birds were harvested daily and shipped to the Far East. Modern technology added to their demise when their locations were reported by telegraph. Their traditional nesting grounds disappeared as forests were cleared to make way for agriculture.
Hunters couldn't wipe out five billion birds. What happened was that where they live, and what they ate, and where they raised their young, disappeared.
And that's why Tom DeWeese lies. He's a flat-out, fat liar. I gotta call 'em like I see 'em sometimes.
Thursday, March 12, 2009
Population growth, climate change sparking water crisis: UN
Some bits and pieces of this not-fun-to-read article:
"Unless their links with water are addressed and water crises around the world are resolved, these other crises may intensify and local water crises may worsen, converging into a global water crisis and leading to political insecurity at various levels."
"Population growth, especially in cities in poor countries, is driving explosive demand for water, prompting rivers in thirsty countries to be tapped for nearly every drop and driving governments to pump out so-called fossil
water, the report said."
"In the past 50 years, EXTRACTION from rivers, lakes and aquifers has tripled to help meet population growth and demands for water-intensive food such as rice, cotton, dairy and meat products. Agriculture accounts for 70 percent of the withdrawals, a figure that reaches more than 90 percent in some developing countries."
"Between 92.4 billion and 148 billion dollars are needed annually in INVESTMENT to build and maintain water supply systems, sanitation and irrigation. China and developed countries in Asia alone face financial needs of 38.2-51.4 billion dollars each year."
"CONSERVATION and reuse of water, including recycled sewage, are the watchwords of the future. The report also stressed sustainable water management, with realistic PRICING to curb waste. It gave the example of India where free or almost-free water had led to huge waste in irrigation, causing soils to be waterlogged and salt-ridden."
Summary: we've got to get serious about this, people. And we've got to get serious about less people. I'll keep hitting that theme in the future.
"Gore flat out stated, "The warming ocean waters are also causing stronger typhoons and cyclones and hurricanes." [ Do you see anything about hurricane numbers or frequency in that statement?]
NOW WATCH WHAT HAPPENS -- there's a magician in the house:
Goldenberg [hurricane expert from Miami] acknowledged that hurricanes have been more numerous in the North Atlantic in the last decade. But when one looks at the data from the 20th century two, factors stand out. First, the number of hurricanes has increased So have sea surface temperatures. QED: global warming causes more hurricanes, right? Not so fast, says Goldenberg. The perceived increase in the number of hurricanes is actually the result of observational biases. With the advent of satellites, scientists have become much better at finding and identifying hurricanes. In the first half of the 20th century, he pointed out, if a storm didn't come close to land, researchers would often miss it.
The second factor is that researchers have identified a multi-decadal pattern in the frequency of hurricanes in the North Atlantic. There was a very active period between 1870 and 1900, a slow-down between 1900 and 1925, another active period between 1926 and 1970, a period of fewer storms between 1970 and 1995, and the beginning of a new active period around 1995. According to Goldenberg, this new active period will probably last another 20 to 30 years. Goldenberg was a co-author of a 2001 study published in Science which concluded:
Tropical North Atlantic SST [sea surface temperature] has exhibited a warming trend of [about] ) 0.3°C over the last 100 years; whereas Atlantic hurricane activity has not exhibited trend-like variability, but rather distinct multidecadal cycles....The possibility exists that the unprecedented activity since 1995 is the result of a combination of the multidecadal-scale changes in the Atlantic SSTs (and vertical shear) along with the additional increase in SSTs resulting from the long-term warming trend. It is, however, equally possible that the current active period (1995-2000) only appears more active than the previous active period (1926-1970) due to the better observational network in place.
Since this study was published, much more data on hurricane trends has been collected and analyzed. "Not a single scientist at the hurricane center believes that global warming has had any measurable impact on hurricane numbers and strength," concluded Goldenberg. He also suggested that some proponents of the idea that global warming is exacerbating tropical storms have backed off lately. Clearly the former vice president hasn't gotten the news yet.OK, so what we see is that all Goldenberg talked about was hurricane numbers -- he just tossed in that bit about strength at the end, but didn't say a single thing about it in his presentation! He made Gore's statement DISAPPEAR and attacked what is commonly called a "strawman" in its place, to make the former Vice Prez and Nobel Prize winner look bad. No doubt the gullible flock listening applauded this trick vigorously.
Regarding hurricane strength: Kerry Emanuel reduced his confidence level in a 2008 paper compared to 2005 -- in April 2008, to be exact. But he should have waited until September:
Are hurricanes growing stronger?
Actual link to the paper: The increasing intensity of the strongest tropical cyclones (this is a PDF document)
Gore wins, and Goldenberg is caught with his hand in the magic hat. Nice try.
One, watched the first "Castle" show, mainly because Nathan Fillion -- spectacular in Firefly and Serenity, scary in Buffy, cute in Waitress, good actor who can deliver a line better than anybody -- is in it. Fun show, generic mystery, "Moonlighting" type dialog and character interplay/interaction. At the start of the show, we saw a cute blonde Leslie Bibbish type -- had to use IMDb to track her down -- 'twas Monet Mazur. Worth a second look; see below. Decent career and a nice baby bounce-back, it appears.
Two, "Dancing with the Stars" Week 1. Curious who they were going to replace Jewel and Nancy O'Dell with; turned out to be Holly Madison (no longer a Girl Next Door or Criss Angel's angel) and Bachelor jiltee Melissa Rycroft. More on that in a moment. Now why do I watch this show, one asks? Testosterone -- gets pumping when Julianne Hough and Kym Johnson are in motion. And a few of the other pro women are plenty fetching as well. (I really appreciate a woman with abs -- check previous post on mommy magnificent Samantha Harris).
Regarding Rycroft: with two days practice, she nailed the routine (sorry Shawn) and got a high score. She's got dance background, clearly -- ballet, and Dallas Cowboys cheerleader. So she may, er, she does have an advantage. Despite the "drama" of who's staying and who's going, the eventual winners and finalists have been body, and particularly legwork and footwork, skillful. First year Kelly Monaco was a swimmer and lifeguard (and nude model -- there's a lot of necessary body consciousness in that line of work), and proved her coordinative aptitude when she nearly got re-exposed due to a costume calamity. Then (not inclusive) we have Emmitt Smith winning and Jerry Rice and Warren Sapp going far -- football players do huge numbers of footwork repetitions; Apolo Anton Ohno and Kristi Yamaguchi obviously have to have great, precise control of the body and particularly legs and feet; boxer Laila Ali is no surprise, boxers also are footwork champions; Helio Castroneves has to have split-second coordination between feet, hands and eyes; even Brooke Burke is a model (see Kelly Monaco) who has to be aware of what all parts of that amazing body are doing. SOOOO... body consciousness and athleticism are pretty important. That said, I'll therefore predict that Rycroft and Shawn Johnson will go deep into the competition. I think the real question-mark will be Lil' Kim. I can't tell which of the men will go farthest, but I predict Julianne's sweetie and partner won't get the team past week 4.
Final on Rycroft, speaking of body-consciousness:
I really like beach shots like that.
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
Rising Sea Levels Set To Have Major Impacts Around The World
At the same time, there's a skeptical climate conference taking place in New York:
Among the Global
Warming Skeptics:Dispatch from the International Conference on Climate Change in New York
This is the key talking point from the above:
"It will eventually become clear that while there is some warming, and that some of it is caused by man, it is not leading to catastrophe."
"Catastrophic warming" has been the stalking horse of Dark Lord Senator Inhofe and his Mouth of Sauron, Marc Morano.
Got that, skeptics? The greatest and brightest of all the scientists professing to be global warming skeptics says, clearly, that there is some warming and some of it is caused by man. So let's quit this "there is no global warming" nonsense unilaterally, OK?
Now, Lindzen also says: "the global mean temperature has not increased since 1995, even if one includes the anomalous big El Nino year of 1998."
What a big pile of... er, what a large piece of bologna that is. The climate system is warming; otherwise it wouldn't have been possible to have most of the warmest years in the historical global temperature record to have occurred since (and including) the year 2000. It may be that ocean-atmosphere interactions, like the recent (and sort-of current) La Nina, influence the global mean atmospheric
temperature enough to make it look cooler, slightly and briefly, but the climate system is warming, and the climate system is warmer than in the 1990s. Otherwise it wouldn't have been possible to have an essential global temperature tie in 2005 with 1998, where 2005 didn't have an El Nino to help. Skeptics always seem to forget that little data point!
Here's the link to yesterday's skeptical musings-en-masse, which I'll discuss when I get a chance:
What Planetary Emergency?
There is something really, really funny in this. Appalling, but funny. For background, we can read:
Hurricane Expert Reassesses Link to Warming
The link between hurricanes and global warming
More later, if you haven't figgered it out alreddy.
Thursday, March 5, 2009
Wednesday, March 4, 2009
1. A Russian general has accused the U.S. of engineering the
satellite collision last month, which has increased the space debris
problem, imperiled the Hubble reservicing mission, and for which I
suggested we need a garbage scow operation in space.
Russian General Says U.S. May Have Planned Satellite Collision
Response: HA HA HA ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha.... wait a minute to
catch my breath... chuckle chuckle chuckle...
Like we'd do that! Those are OUR satellite interests in space that
those high-speed chunks of orbiting techno-junk are now much more
likely to hit. The Russian general also thinks that it was part of
the Orbital Express mission (another link); I read about that and noted that the Orbital Express satellites are now in decaying orbits. Are they still
under control, I'd like to know??
2. Chinese suburb of Hong Kong (Shenzhen super city) will create
satellite manufacturing capability, 4-5 satellites a year.
Shenzhen to Build Four to Five Satellites Every Year
Response: Don't they know about the orbiting debris problem?
Where are all these satellites going to operate?
3. Close, but no Tea Leoni
Close Encounter: Earth-Asteroid Near Miss (this link had the coolest picture)
JPL announced that we just got missed by a Tunguska-class asteroid
that just got noticed two days ago. Regardless of the "Deep Impact"
or "Armageddon" scenarios, the one we don't see coming is the one
that's most likely to hit us. Relative to items 1 and 2, why can't
we envision and then come up with some clean-up systems for debris and
better intercept and divert plans for NEOs?
They've come even closer before:
Fireball over the Tetons
The Great Daylight 1972 Fireball
Someday "soon", we're gonna get thunked noticeably. Hopefully it'll
hit where it creates a tourist attraction and not someplace with a
Asteroids: more than a 70's video arcade game.
Tuesday, March 3, 2009
Anthony Nesty broke Morales' record in 1986 with a 47.60, and it didn't get broken again until Nate Dusing got it in 1997 with a 47.10. It's a tough record to break; Austin Staab tied Dusing in 2007.
So it was remarkable to me that the record got broken in Virginia by a kid named Sean Fletcher, with a 47.08. Didn't I tell you that it's a tough record to break? He just managed to break it by twice the margin that Michael Phelps needed to beat Cavic in Beijing.
And I actually saw a high-school swimmer get under 50 seconds back in 1978, which at the time was pretty big to get that close to Spitz. I guess I'm lucky.
If you want to see Fletcher in action a couple of months ago, with a 48.86 at the Tom Dolan Invitational, click right here.
A little more searching: Here's the actual record swim. Not the greatest video, but hey, who knew he was gonna do that?
Here are some good quality stills of Fletcher's record race
Monday, March 2, 2009
Guess what this is:
It's an image of the Earth from space. That was easy. The real question is: what are those white trails? Aircraft contrails? Nope, but that's a logical guess. What they are is the track of clouds created by the particulate emissions from ships. The aerosols act as cloud seeds and create long sinuous clouds that trail the ships.
Serious problem? Well, it seems so:
Commercial Ships Spew Half As Much Particulate Pollution As World's Cars
The thing is, this is a good news-bad news story. The good news is that there is probably a global cooling effect from the ship cloud trails. The bad news is that the particulates are still bad to breathe, and they travel a long way.
Ships burn fossil fuels, which is why I think the following picture illustrates a viable way to reduce both fuel consumption and particulate pollution:
Besides, almost everyone likes to fly a kite, right?