Recently in Science Category

Yet another thing that Global Warming is causing - a glacier in the arctic is getting bigger. From the London Daily Mail:

Satellites spot surging glacier in the Arctic moving at 13 metres a DAY for the first time since the 1930s
Dramatic new images from ESA’s Copernicus Sentinel-1 satellites reveal the Arctic’s Negribreen glacier is speeding up.

According to the space agency, the recent ‘surge’ saw the glacier’s ice surface speed jump from 1 meter to 13 meters a day this past winter.

The phenomenon is thought to be linked to changes in heat or water at the bottom of a glacier, and scientists say the effect observed at Negribreen is now steadily increasing.

The glacier was retreating from 1930 to 2016 - now it is advancing.

From the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network's blog:

Earthquake swarm NE of Bremerton
The Seattle Fault Zone runs West to East right through downtown Seattle and has the potential of being the source of a large (M6+) earthquake. It was therefore quite exciting when a small earthquake (Ml=3.3) happened right below the Seattle Fault Zone near Bremerton last week and was followed by aftershocks, and then again by a Ml=3.4 earthquake and another Ml=3.6 earthquake last night (as I am writing this our prototype Early Warning App is telling me another earthquake just happened, it is 10:57PDT on the 11th, this one turns out to be near Whidbey Island instead).

Rather than call it a mainshock-aftershock pattern, we can now call it a swarm, which basically means a cluster of earthquakes close in space and time that doesn't have an obvious mainshock. Swarms of small earthquakes are not unusual in our region. In fact, I found at least 6 more PNSN blog posts about swarms in WA or OR (links at the bottom of this post). However, this swarm is interesting in that it might be related to the Seattle Fault Zone.

See the mapview below for locations of the earthquakes in this swarm. Important to know is that the smallest dots on the map are probably not in the correct location. These earthquakes are so small that they are not well-recorded on all the nearby seismometers, which makes it difficult to locate them well. We are quite convinced that these ocurred in the same area as the bigger ones (except for one, but more about that later) because their waveforms look similar to the bigger ones on those seismometers that did see all of them.

20170511-quakemap.jpg

The joys of living in a very geologically active area.

Our quiet sun

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We have had a record five months of low sunspot counts - from Spaceweather:

THE SUN IS BLANK:
Today the sun is blank--no sunspots. The disk of our star is completely featureless.

This is the 31st day in 2017 that the sun has been without spots. Cumulatively, it adds up to an entire month of spotlessness--and it's only May. For comparison, the sun was blank on 32 days in the whole of 2016. The accelerating pace of spotless suns is a sign that Solar Minimum is approaching.

Solar Minimum is yin to the yang of Solar Maximum, a natural part of the sun's ~11 year sunspot cycle. Contrary to popular belief, Solar Minimum is not boring ...only different. It brings a time of enhanced cosmic rays, pink auroras, a collapsing ionosphere and accumulating space junk. With action like that, who needs sunspots? Stay tuned for more blank suns.

Sunspots are a great proxy for solar output - the fewer sunspots, the cooler our Sun is. The solar output is measured directly by the Dominion Observatory in Penticton, British Columbia - here is their chart for 2000 through 2017 - it says NOAA/SWPC but the data is gathered from Dominion:

20170510-flux.jpg

Time to buy a good winter coat and stock up on firewood...

We had a small cluster of quakes in Puget Sound on May 3rd. The same fault just had another one - from the USGS. It was 24.5 km deep so not much surface movement.

From the United States Department of Energy - Hanford Emergency Operations Center:

HANFORD SITE EMERGENCY
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Richland Operations Office declared an emergency at the Hanford Site at approximately 8:30 a.m. this morning after a cave-in of a 20-foot section of a tunnel that is hundreds of feet long that is used to store contaminated materials. The tunnel is located next to the Plutonium Uranium Extraction Facility, also known as PUREX, which is located in the center of the Hanford Site, in an area known as the 200 East Area. No contamination has been detected following the cave-in. Crews are continuing to survey the area for contamination. Workers are preparing to fill the hole created by the cave-in in order to stabilize the tunnel. All personnel in the vicinity of the PUREX facility were accounted for and there are no reports of injuries.

And something to take note of:

No action is currently required for residents of counties surrounding the Hanford Site.

Don't start taking your Potasium Iodide pills quite yet. There is a lot more at the site including a timeline of events along with the history of the tunnel.

Van Zandt

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The small town of Van Zandt lies about 10 miles away to the Southwest. It is home to a wonderful store and deli, a couple of churches, it has its own low-power FM radio station and that is about it.

It is also home to a potential large landslide and this has happened before. Here are two blog posts about the landslide and LIDAR

First - from The Landslide Blog:

The Van Zandt landslide: another great example of landslide mapping using LIDAR
I recently came across another great example of the use of LIDAR for mapping landslides in difficult terrain.  The Washington Geological Survey has a wonderful mapping tool online that gives the user the ability to look at a range of geological data.  The Bellingham Herald has a nice article about the LIDAR dataset, which can be accessed through the portal, in which they highlight the example of the Van Zandt landslide on the Nooksack River.  This landslide is located at 48.803, -122.151 if you want to take a look on Google Earth.  Imagery of the location suggests that there might be a landslide here – below is a Google Earth perspective of the site showing a huge scoop out of the ridge and a river that may have been pushed over to the opposite side of the valley.  However, the area between the ridge is densely forested in places, with vegetation of various types covering almost all of the landscape.  It is extremely difficult to map a landslide deposit in these circumstances:

20170507-vz01.jpg

The author - Dave Petley - talks about using topographic maps and direct visualization and then come out with the money shot:

But a LIDAR system fires many pulses of laser energy at the ground in the process of mapping.  Even in a forested area a few of these make it through the vegetation canopy to strike the ground before being reflected back to the instrument.  Whilst the proportion of laser pulses that make this journey is small, the high density of pulses sent by the laser means that these can be used to map the underlying terrain.  So the pulses that have reflected off the tree canopy are removed through processing, leaving just those that reached the ground.  These are then combined to produce a bare earth LIDAR hillshade.  The spatial resolution of this is less good, but the ability to capture the underlying relief is amazing.  Here is the bare earth hillshade for the Van Zandt landslide:

20170507-vz02.jpg

And suddenly the hummocky topography of the landslide deposit is plain to see, and is easily mapped. And what becomes evident from this is that this was another highly mobile landslide with a long runout. Interestingly, a back of the envelope calculation suggests that the H/L ratio for this landslide is about 0.132, close to the supposedly extraordinary mobility value of 0.105 for the Oso landslide.

The Oso landslide in 2014 killed 43 people.

Second, from local geologist Dan McShane's Reading the Washington Landscape:

The Van Zandt Slide Gets Some More Attention
Dave Petley calls attention to the use of LiDAR (light detecting and raging) and the Van Zandt landslide in Whatcom County (agu.org/landslideblog/2017/05/05/lidar/). His post is in part derived from a Bellingham Herald article that covers the recent work of the Washington State Department of Natural Resources Division of Geology and Earth Resources (DNRGER). He also gave my blog a nice compliment - I did a short write up on the Van Zandt Landslide (van-zandt-landslide-introduction) a while back after a trip to the slide with Geoff Malick. Goeff is getting near completion of his thesis on the slide.

The DNRGER has developed and recently expanded their geology information map portal https://fortress.wa.gov/dnr/protectiongis/geology/?Theme=wigm. The portal provides geologic maps but has also recently added LiDAR coverage.

I typically do not use the portal very often as I have most of the maps I need and their accompanying pamphlets/booklets. However, a separate portal of really good LiDAR imagery has recently been developed by the DNRGER (http://lidarportal.dnr.wa.gov). This portal does not include as much LiDAR derived imagery as the main geology portal as a lot of LiDAR areas have yet to be added. But the quality of the imagery is sharper and allows one to pick which LiDAR flight to view when there are multiple LiDAR flights available. It also allows turning on or off the bare earth imagery. The site can also be used to download the raw data.

The LIDAR portal is an excellent way to spend a few hours - looking for existing slides in the area. I know of several in one valley over and they show up loud and clear on the map.

Nice to hear about science being done and not the agenda-driven global warming crap. From Watts Up With That:

Spaceweather protection bill passes the Senate
From the “a single Carrington event can ruin your whole day, er, life” department:

WASHINGTON — The Senate unanimously passed a bill May 2 intended to support space weather research and planning to protect critical infrastructure from solar storms.

The Senate passed, via unanimous consent, the Space Weather Research and Forecasting Act. The bill cleared the Senate Commerce Committee in January, which had approved a similar bill in 2016.

The bill is designed to outline roles and responsibilities for various U.S. government agencies to research, forecast and respond to space weather, which can affect communications, the power grid and other systems. 

Basically replacing the 20-year old solar observing satellites with current technologies. Much overdue.

FromOlympia, WA The Olympian:

Their Mount Rainier erupted, now Colombians sharing lessons
A contingent from Colombia is visiting Pierce County this week to discuss how to best handle the possibility of Mount Rainier or Mount St. Helens erupting.

The group of scientists, emergency managers and first responders have checked out both Washington volcanoes and will hold a community meeting in Orting Thursday night (May 4).

Both countries have experienced deadly volcano eruptions in the past.

Mount St. Helens erupted in May 1980, killing 57 people and destroying hundreds of homes.

In the Andes Mountains of Colombia, Nevado del Ruiz erupted in 1985 and caused lahars that killed more than 23,000 people, injured more than 5,000 and destroyed 5,000 homes.

Nevado del Ruiz is an ice-clad volcano similar to Mount Rainier, which the U.S. Geological Survey dubbed one of the most dangerous volcanoes in the world because volcanic mudflows would bury numerous communities in the foothills.

After the Nevado del Ruiz eruption, our US Geological Survey started the Volcano Disaster Assistance Program. From the website:

In response to the tragic 1985 eruption of Nevado del Ruiz Volcano in Colombia, where more than 23,000 people lost their lives, the USGS and the U.S. Agency for International Development's Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance (USAID/OFDA) established the Volcano Disaster Assistance Program (VDAP) to help prevent crises from becoming disasters. Over 30 successful years, VDAP has deployed scientific teams in response to 30 major crises, provided technical assistance with hundreds of additional volcanic events, and strengthened response capacity in 12 countries.

At the request of governments of affected countries, VDAP helps foreign colleagues monitor volcanic activity, assess hazards, generate eruption forecasts, and develop early warning capabilities, which help get people out of harm's way. Experienced teams of VDAP scientists can rapidly respond to developing crises worldwide. VDAP teams collaborate in the background, providing support to international partners who are the responsible parties for hazard communication. Between crises, VDAP scientists work with counterparts to build and improve volcano monitoring systems and to conduct joint activities to reduce volcanic risk and improve understanding of volcanic hazards.

Read more about the 30 years of VDAP on the OFDA website.

Looks like a great program for the big picture.

And, Columbia is not without its share of other disasters - from the Associated Press two days ago:

Desperation sets in as flood death toll in Colombia tops 200
Townspeople desperately searched their ruined homes and the local hospital for loved ones Sunday after a torrent of water, mud and debris swept through a city in southern Colombia, causing more than 200 deaths, many of them children, and leaving hundreds more missing and injured.

Neighborhoods were left strewn with rocks, wooden planks, tree limbs and brown muck after heavy rain caused the three rivers that surround Mocoa to rise up and surge through the city of 40,000 Friday night and early Saturday as people slept. The deluge smashed houses, tore trees out by the roots and washed cars and trucks away.

Search-and-rescue teams combed through the debris and helped people who had been clawing at huge mounds of mud by hand. Many had little left to search.

“People went to their houses and found nothing but the floor,” said Gilma Diaz, a 42-year-old woman from another town who came to search for a cousin.

And of course, the potential had been identified in 1989:

The danger has grown worse in recent years because of deforestation, which eliminates some protection from runoff, and because many people built their homes close to the water. But the triggering event was rainfall of more than 5 inches (130 millimeters) that began late Friday.

“The rain fell on Mocoa with an intensity and force that was without precedent and devastating,” Santos said. “It rained in two hours what falls in a month in Bogota.”

A 1989 hydrology report for the Agricultural Ministry warned that just such a disaster could happen unless steps were taken to reinforce the riverbanks, channel water away from the town and restore some of the forest. It was not immediately clear why those steps had not been taken.

This shit is serious - it can and will kill you in a heartbeat. We had our own example with the Oso landslide of March 22, 2014

It would have been a life-saver if this system had been installed at Oso - from The Landslide Blog:

Community Slope SAFE
Community Slope SAFE is a landslide early warning system that has been under development for some years by Professor Neil Dixon and colleagues at Loughborough University I have covered this work before – in essence it uses technology to listen to acoustic emissions generated when a landslide moves, and then uses electronics to process that information to provide a warning.  Of course that very simple description hides a great deal of complexity – how to collect the signal and not background noise, and how to interpret that signal as indicating that the slope is on the move, for example.  One aspect of this work has been the development of a low cost system designed to be used in vulnerable communities in less affluent countries, called Community Slope SAFE.  The team have just installed their first system in Malaysia, working with an NGO FHI 360 and various other partners.

Much more here: Slope Alarms

I rest my case - Bill Nye

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Not that bright, a television entertainer and very serious cognitive bias towards dodgy science:

20170501-dolph.jpg

Kind of hearkens back to the "dance, monkey, DANCE!" from a few posts ago.

March for Science

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A great essay on the "march for science" phenomenon - the politicizing of something that should be apolitical. From Robert Tracinski writing at The Federalist:

The ‘March For Science’ Shows How Carl Sagan Ruined Science
I am a Carl Sagan fan from way back. His 1980 TV miniseries “Cosmos” hit me at just the right age and inflamed a lifelong love of science. But we’ve had nearly 40 years to assess the long-term effects and see how Sagan unwittingly contributed to a trend that muddled public understanding of science. This weekend’s so-called “March for Science” is a perfect example of what went wrong.

All you really need to know about the “March for Science” is that it is scheduled for Earth Day. The organizers may say the march is nonpartisan and has a variety of goals, but it’s mostly just about global warming. It’s not just about whether global warming is actually happening, or whether it is caused by human activity, but about a specific political program for dealing with global warming.

To be sure, there are other goals involved in the march and some contention, even among the organizers, about the extent to which the march should embrace causes like “diversity.” So the goals run the gamut from the left to the far-left. And that’s the problem. The “March for Science” is an attempt to equate the Left’s political goals with Science Itself, claiming the intellectual and moral authority of science for the Left’s agenda.

A bit more about what this movement is seeking to do:

Science has its own unique language and methods: the language of mathematics and a method of systematic observation and experimentation. The reason science tends to be opaque to the public is because it ultimately requires that they understand its language and learn to use its methods. But how do you communicate the history and meaning of science to those who don’t yet speak its language? You turn science into something they can understand. You make it into a narrative, a story.

This is what I consider to be the key difference between the liberal and the conservative thought process - the liberal mind seeks out a narrative, a story. Many of the failed liberal policies started because they sounded good without people looking at the consequences. In philosophy, this is called rhetoric. The conservative mind looks for numbers and analysis. This sounds good but what if? This is dialectic - not to be confused with Karl Marx's appropriation of this word for his own fuzzy-headed scribblings.

Go and read the whole thing - you will not be dissapointed

Governor Moonbeam just does not give up - from Larry Hamlin writing at Watts Up With That:

California Governor Brown acknowledges other states aren’t buying his climate hype…
The L A Times interviewed California Governor Brown about the states climate campaign with the results presented in an April 15, 2017 article entitled “I’m  not giving up hope” which revealed his frustrations, concerns and views about lack of support among other states regarding California’s climate change program.

The Times presented a series of questions to Governor Brown addressing key topics regarding California’s efforts to address global climate issues at a state level. He readily acknowledged that other states are not buying his climate alarmist hype and moving in California’s direction and expressed frustration about this outcome.

When asked about greater support for his climate change program outside the U.S. he attributed this to Republicans “belief” that global warming is a hoax, irrelevant or not a problem but failed to address the significant and well documented climate science flaws and failures which are clearly undermining the scientific legitimacy of climate alarmist positions and claims.

Blaming the Republicans is a certain indicator that he considers this to be a political grab and not a matter of science. Pure watermelon environmentalism - green on the outside but red marxist on the inside. Much more at the site.

Interesting news from CERN

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Another layer of the onion being peeled back? From Science:

Physicists detect whiff of new particle at the Large Hadron Collider
For decades, particle physicists have yearned for physics beyond their tried-and-true standard model. Now, they are finding signs of something unexpected at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), the world’s biggest atom smasher at CERN, the European particle physics laboratory near Geneva, Switzerland. The hints come not from the LHC’s two large detectors, which have yielded no new particles since they bagged the last missing piece of the standard model, the Higgs boson, in 2012, but from a smaller detector, called LHCb, that precisely measures the decays of familiar particles.

The latest signal involves deviations in the decays of particles called B mesons—weak evidence on its own. But together with other hints, it could point to new particles lying on the high-energy horizon. “This has never happened before, to observe a set of coherent deviations that could be explained in a very economical way with one single new physics contribution,” says Joaquim Matias, a theorist at the Autonomous University of Barcelona in Spain. Matias says the evidence is strong enough for a discovery claim, but others urge caution.

The LHC smashes protons together at unprecedented energy to try to blast into existence massive new particles, which its two big detectors, ATLAS and CMS, would spot. LHCb focuses on familiar particles, in particular B mesons, using an exquisitely sensitive tracking detector to sniff out the tiny explosive decays.

I am still pissed as hell that Bill Clinton axed the Superconducting Super Collider in Texas. Construction was well under way and it was rated for 40TeV while the facility at CERN is only 14TeV - the USA could have had the Higgs Boson ten years earlier. Congratulations to the team at CERN though - this could be big.

Earthquakes in the news

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Each year, the Oregon town of Seaside hosts a large amateur radio conference and I have been attending the last couple of years. I really love the town of Seaside - great people and beautiful area. The only problem is that there is a massive potential for a large earthquake and tsunami sitting about 80 miles off the shoreline. Their warning system just got a nice upgrade. From The Daily Astorian:

Southern Exposure: Seismometer gives early warning of ground motion
Who do you call when you need to upgrade a seismometer?

That’s easy: the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network, a partner of the U.S. Geological Survey, the University of Washington and the University of Oregon among others.

The Seaside seismometer is one of many along the coast of Oregon and Washington state to provide the ShakeAlert early warning system. Hidden in an equipment room in the back of the Seaside Museum and Historical Society, the seismometer may have a crucial role in history of its own in the not-so-distant future.

“A seismometer is an instrument that detects ground motion in the form of acceleration of the ground itself,” the University of Oregon’s field technician and ShakeAlert Project Manager Leland O’Driscoll said.

Now I will be able to rest a bit easier knowing that I would have a good fifteen minutes of warning should something let go offshore.

Meet synalpheus pinkfloydi

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From The Beeb:

New shrimp species named after Pink Floyd
A new species of shrimp has been named after Pink Floyd thanks to a pact between prog rock-loving scientists.

The synalpheus pinkfloydi uses its large pink claw to create a noise so loud it can kill small fish.

The team behind the discovery vowed years ago if it ever found a new pink shrimp it would "honour" the rockers.

Sammy De Grave, head of research at Oxford University Museum of National History, said he has been a fan of the band since he was a teenager.

And it is not the first crustacean he's named after a rock legend, having already named a species of shrimp after Rolling Stones front man, Mick Jagger - elephantis jaggerai.

Great!

From Oregon Public Broadcasting:

New Earthquake Alert System Rolls Out In Oregon, Washington
An early warning system for earthquakes is expanding to Oregon and Washington — thanks to a group of universities and government agencies.

California has had the “ShakeAlert” system for a couple of years. And depending on where an earthquake hits, it can give nearby cities a warning of up to a minute or two. That’s enough for a train to stop, a lift to open, or for people to get out of a building.

University of Oregon professor Doug Toomey said a small network of sensors is now installed in Oregon and Washington, so an earthquake can be distinguished from, for example, a passing truck.

Great news especially for those spending any time near the water or in unreinforced masonry (brick) buildings.

Great videos on Northwest Geology

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From Central Washington University geology professor Nick Zentner - his website: NICK ZENTNER

Here he is with  Great Earthquakes of the Pacific Northwest

Professor Zentner references an article by Kathryn Schulz in The New Yorker - it can be found here: THE REALLY BIG ONE

Because Global Warming, etc... From the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation:

Marine Atlantic ferry free after becoming trapped in ice off Cape Breton
A Marine Atlantic ferry that became trapped in ice on Tuesday off the coast of Cape Breton has been freed. 

Hey Peter - your glory days are over. You used to do decent work but you are now just a shill for the money behind Climate Change - from England's The Guardian of Sunday 21 August 2016:

‘Next year or the year after, the Arctic will be free of ice’
Peter Wadhams has spent his career in the Arctic, making more than 50 trips there, some in submarines under the polar ice. He is credited with being one of the first scientists to show that the thick icecap that once covered the Arctic ocean was beginning to thin and shrink. He was director of the Scott Polar Institute in Cambridge from 1987 to 1992 and professor of ocean physics at Cambridge since 2001. His book, A Farewell to Ice, tells the story of his unravelling of this alarming trend and describes what the consequences for our planet will be if Arctic ice continues to disappear at its current rate.

You have said on several occasions that summer Arctic sea ice would disappear by the middle of this decade. It hasn’t. Are you being alarmist?
No. There is a clear trend down to zero for summer cover. However, each year chance events can give a boost to ice cover or take some away. The overall trend is a very strong downward one, however. Most people expect this year will see a record low in the Arctic’s summer sea-ice cover. Next year or the year after that, I think it will be free of ice in summer and by that I mean the central Arctic will be ice-free. You will be able to cross over the north pole by ship. There will still be about a million square kilometres of ice in the Arctic in summer but it will be packed into various nooks and crannies along the Northwest Passage and along bits of the Canadian coastline. Ice-free means the central basin of the Arctic will be ice-free and I think that that is going to happen in summer 2017 or 2018.

Like I said, he used to do good work but he is now a braying ninny. Laughed at. Always good for a "scare" quote for the innumerate. And then there is this - to further illustrate his grasp of reality.

There is so much that we simply do not know about our sun, even though it is the key driver of our climate. From Science Alert:

Giant Waves That Drive Weather on Earth Have Just Been Found Rippling Across Our Sun
Researchers have found evidence that the same giant, magnetized waves that ripple through Earth's atmosphere might also exist on our Sun.

These waves are known as Rossby or planetary waves, and they usually occur way above Earth's surface, influencing weather patterns and the jet stream winds. But this is the first time the waves have been spotted on the Sun - and in this case, they're planet-sized.

The discovery could explain why solar activity such as solar storms and flares are so hard for us to predict - something that could become an issue in future if a powerful solar flare is directed straight at Earth.

"The discovery of magnetized Rossby waves on the Sun offers the tantalizing possibility that we can predict space weather much further in advance," said lead researcher Scott McIntosh, from the US National Center of Atmospheric Research.

On Earth, Rossby waves occur both in the atmosphere and in the oceans, and they form in rotating fluids. In the atmosphere, these waves affect the path of the jet stream winds and the formation of low- and high-pressure systems, which affect the weather we experience on the ground.

In the ocean, a huge Rossby wave have been spotted travelling westward around the planet, and is responsible for a strange humming sound coming from the Caribbean sea.

Considering that the Sun is rotating, and is largely made up of plasma that acts like a vast, magnetized ocean, it was suspected that Rossby-type waves might also form on our host star. But this is the first time researchers have ever been able to detect them.

Very cool - the full paper can be found here at Nature/Astronomy: The detection of Rossby-like waves on the Sun

I wonder if this is tied at all to the magnetic field variations observed by Professor Valentina Zharkova of Northumbria University here and here. Paper here.

From Breitbart:

J Scott Armstrong: Fewer Than 1 Percent Of Papers in Scientific Journals Follow Scientific Method
Fewer than 1 percent of papers published in scientific journals follow the scientific method, according to research by Wharton School professor and forecasting expert J. Scott Armstrong.

Professor Armstrong, who co-founded the peer-reviewed Journal of Forecasting in 1982 and the International Journal of Forecasting in 1985, made the claim in a presentation about what he considers to be “alarmism” from forecasters over man-made climate change.

“We also go through journals and rate how well they conform to the scientific method. I used to think that maybe 10 percent of papers in my field … were maybe useful. Now it looks like maybe, one tenth of one percent follow the scientific method” said Armstrong in his presentation, which can be watched in full below. “People just don’t do it.”

The video is the full record (8+ hours) of the most recent Heartland International Conference on Climate Change (their 12th). Professor Armstrong's talk is about 25 minutes long and the video is cued up to the beginning of his presentation.

The Science march on Washington

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Classic Dunning–Kruger effect - they believe that because they are so smart in their own field, that they are just as smart in other fields - including march organization. From Stat News:

Science march on Washington, billed as historic, plagued by organizational turmoil
It may be the largest rally in support of science ever. Hundreds of thousands of people have joined the Facebook group for the upcoming March for Science, and tens of thousands have offered to volunteer. Beyond a march in Washington, more than 400 cities worldwide will host simultaneous events on April 22 to repudiate science policies of the new White House and Congress.

Yet for all the excitement, STAT has found, plans for the march are plagued by infighting among organizers, attacks from outside scientists who don’t feel their interests are fairly represented, and operational disputes. Tensions have become so pronounced that some organizers have quit and many scientists have pledged not to attend.

What was billed as science advocates speaking with a unified voice, then, has instead surfaced long-lingering tensions within the scientific community.

Sad to say, scratch an academic and you find a progressive:

Jacquelyn Gill, a biology and ecology professor at the University of Maine, told STAT that she quit the organizing committee in recent weeks because of leaders’ resistance to aggressively addressing inequalities — including race and gender.

“We were really in this position where, because the march failed to actively address those structural inequalities within its own organization and then to effectively communicate those values outward, we carried those inequalities forward,” Gill said. “Some of these problems stem from the march leadership failing early on in its messaging.”

Hey Jacquelyn, this is not about your personal soapbox, this is about, you know, Science.

Much more at the site - shows you just how much partisan politics has infected the academic community. It used to be pure but is now a cess-pit.

Quite the find - Shipwreck

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From Haaretz:

Crusader shipwreck, gold found by diving archaeologists in Israel
The long-lost wreck of a crusader ship and sunken cargos dating to the 13th century C.E. have been found in the bay of the crusader stronghold city Acre, in northern Israel.

Gold coins dating to the destruction of the crusader bastion in 1291 C.E., when the Mamluk Sultan of Egypt stormed it in a struggle to wrest the Holy Land from the crusaders, were also found in the water by the archaeologists, led by Dr. Ehud Galili and Prof. Michal Artzy from Haifa University.

Meanwhile, on land in Acre, an excavation led by Haifa University's Prof. Adrian Boas has found the long-lost headquarters of the Teutonic Order on the eastern side of the city, outside the Ottoman walls.

A fascinating article - goes into a lot of the history. Use the Google Trick if the page does not load and asks you for a subscription.

Happy Vernal Equinox

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Happy Spring - from The Old Farmer's Almanac:

SPRING EQUINOX 2017: FIRST DAY OF SPRING
Celebrate the spring equinox 2017 with our equinox dates and times—plus facts and folklore about the first day of spring. Also, join us for our live telescope show today, Monday, March 20! Find out more information.

When is the spring equinox 2017? In the Northern Hemisphere, we mark this vernal equinox on Monday, March 20, 2017.

Much more at the site - the science and the folklore.

An historical set of Ka-Booms

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From the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory:

Physicist declassifies rescued nuclear test films
The U.S. conducted 210 atmospheric nuclear tests between 1945 and 1962, with multiple cameras capturing each event at around 2,400 frames per second. But in the decades since, around 10,000 of these films sat idle, scattered across the country in high-security vaults. Not only were they gathering dust, the film material itself was slowly decomposing, bringing the data they contained to the brink of being lost forever.

For the past five years, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) weapon physicist Greg Spriggs and a crack team of film experts, archivists and software developers have been on a mission to hunt down, scan, reanalyze and declassify these decomposing films. The goals are to preserve the films' content before it's lost forever, and provide better data to the post-testing-era scientists who use computer codes to help certify that the aging U.S. nuclear deterrent remains safe, secure and effective. To date, the team has located around 6,500 of the estimated 10,000 films created during atmospheric testing. Around 4,200 films have been scanned, 400 to 500 have been reanalyzed and around 750 have been declassified. An initial set of these declassified films -- tests conducted by LLNL -- were published today in an LLNL YouTube playlist (link is external).

Say what you will about the technology and the intent behind the technology, having these puppies around prevented their use in war - a most excellent deterrent.

And from a photographic standpoint, I find the videos to be quite beautiful. I own both VHS and DVD copies of the documentary Trinity and Beyond

Here is the LLNL YouTube playlist and here is just one sample from Operation Plumbob:

Talk about tearing open the Gates of Hell. I know it is just an example of pareidolia but the face that forms in the first few seconds is just downright unnerving.

Here is the main site for LLNL YouTube videos - including this gem. News you can use...

Happy Pi Day!

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Today is 3/14 or the first three digits of Pi - here are two ways to calculate it:

Congratulations to Anthony Watts

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His Climate Science Blog - Watts Up With That has hit a couple of very major milestones recently:

Some WUWT milestones and some housekeeping
Recently, this blog passed a few milestones that I thought would be worth sharing with readers. For all of our critics and the vitriol all they throw our way, I challenge any of them to find a climate related blog that even comes close to the level of readership we enjoy here. We recently passed 300 million views and 2 million approved comments. We also recently passed 40,000 email subscribers.

WUWT is a daily read for me and a treasure of real climate information - not models, real actual data collected by real people from the field. Boots on the ground. The Right Stuff...

Time gets all fuzzy

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Interesting - our measurement of time has gotten so good that we are now seeing quantum variations in it. From Science Alert:

Physicists Find That as Clocks Get More Precise, Time Gets More Fuzzy
Time is weird – in spite of what we think, the Universe doesn't have a master clock to run by, making it possible for us to experience time differently depending on how we're moving or how much gravity is pulling on us.

Now physicists have combined two grand theories of physics to conclude not only is time not universally consistent, any clock we use to measure it will blur the flow of time in its surrounding space.

Don't worry, that doesn't mean your wall clock is going to make you age quicker. We're talking about time keepers in highly precise experiments here, such as atomic clocks

A team of physicists from the University of Vienna and the Austrian Academy of Sciences have applied quantum mechanics and general relativity to argue that increasing the precision of measurements on clocks in the same space also increases their warping of time.

Fun to think about... I wonder what America's Time Lord has to say (here and here)

A little temblor

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2.6 near Friday Harbor in the San Juan Islands an hour ago. 11.8km deep so it will have been felt but not enough to cause property damage.

Just checked the rain and we have had a bit over 0.3" today total.

Coming soon to a driveway near you

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And timekeeping just gets more and more accurate - from Physics World:

Optical clocks hit the road
Two independent groups of physicists in Germany and China have built portable optical clocks that are more accurate than the best caesium devices. They say that their instruments could be used to compare the timekeeping of different optical clocks distributed across the globe, and so take us closer to an overhaul of the SI definition of the second. They also reckon their compact clocks could be used by geodesists to determine the height difference between two widely spaced points on the Earth's surface.

All atomic clocks rely on counting the oscillations of an electromagnetic wave with a frequency that is locked to that of a known atomic transition. Traditional atomic clocks use a microwave transition in caesium-133 to fix the output of a crystal oscillator, whereas optical clocks use much higher optical frequencies generated when a monochromatic laser beam interacts with various species of trapped ions or with clouds of cold atoms. These clocks now have accuracies and stabilities that are nearly two orders of magnitude higher than those of the best caesium devices – at levels of a few parts in 1018 rather than 1 part in 1016.

Very cool - I have a very accurate clock here but it is only good to 1013 - still a couple thousand times better than your household clock or good watch. Accurate to one second in two hundred years.

Happens every fourteen months or so - from the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network - Blog:

Next ETS Expected any time now
The next 14-month Magnitude 6+ slow earthquake (Episodic Tremor and Slip) event is expected after a quiet period in Cascadia... or has it been that quiet..  (skip to: Winter 2017 ETS page)

Tremor throughout Cascadia seems to have been relatively quiet over the past four months; only 5,600 tremor locations from the wech-o-meter compared to an average of 15,300 for the six previous four month periods.  In fact the whole past year seems quieter than previous years.

And:

Interactive Tremor Map

And:

Deep Tremor News

From Central Washington University's Pacific Northwest Geodetic Array comes a nice explanation of ETS and what it means to us:

Slow Earthquakes, ETS, and Cascadia
In 2001, CWU researchers with the continuous GPS network Pacific Northwest Geodetic Array discovered periodic slow-slip across the Cascadia Subduction Zone. Previously undetected by seismic networks, these slip events exhibit regular recurrence intervals thus changing current understanding of earthquake behavior. Since this time, definitions for this newly discovered phenomenon have evolved. At first, the term "silent-earthquake" was employed to illustrate the absence of a seismic signature. Subsequent investigations and recent discoveries have led to a change in characterization. Now these slow-slip events are defined as eposodic tremor and slip (ETS).

In short, an ETS is a discreet time interval (episode) of relative tectonic plate movement (slip) coupled with high frequency seismic energy bursts (tremor). ETS usually last for around a few weeks duration as opposed to regular earthquakes where energy is released within seconds to minutes.

During an ETS relative plate motion occurs within a transition region of a subducting lithospheric plate. This transition delineates an area between the upper-locked and lower-slipping interface of a subduction zone. Stress between these two colliding plates builds since differential movement between the two zones is not entirely compensated from ETS displacement. Quick slip across the upper locked portion of a subduction zone occurs in large megathrust earthquakes when accumulated stresses surpass the upper region's locking threshold.

In contrast, the subtle motion caused by ETS is so "slow" it's difficult to record at the surface. One might say "quiet" or possibly "silent" in nature, but definitely important since these events affect lithospheric plate interactions that are responsible for damaging "fast" earthquakes. Will the size of future large-scale megathrust earthquakes be reduced or will the time interval between these earthquakes increase with an ETS? A process with such imposing consequences is hardly "silent" in terms of relevance. In fact an ETS is not silent at all.

A lot more at the site - basically, tension is building and the release will happen with a magnitude 9 unzipping of the zone between these two plates. This happens every 300 to 500 years and the last one happened over 300 years ago. This zone is located off the California, Oregon and Washington coastlines - communities on the coastline will be devestated. Further inland, there will be major damage but not as bad.

Whole lotta shaking going on

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Last night around 9:00PM there was a mag 4.1 quake near Belfair, Washington on the Olympic Penninsula - about ten miles down so it would have been felt on the surface.

Coming home - Ancient One

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AKA the Kennewick Man - finally - from The Seattle Times:

‘A wrong had finally been righted’: Tribes bury remains of ancient ancestor known as Kennewick Man
In the high desert of the Columbia Plateau, more than 200 people gathered early Saturday to lay the Ancient One to rest, returning his 9,000-year-old remains to an undisclosed location not far from the Columbia River.

There was a feeling of finality and catharsis for those who had fought for 20 years to reclaim and repatriate the remains of an ancient ancestor who came to be called Kennewick Man, said Chuck Sams, communications director for the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation.

There was also sadness in remembering those who didn’t live to see the Ancient One’s reburial, but also a sense of accomplishment in seeing him returned after two decades of court battles and scientific studies, Sams said.

Scientists who had argued that Kennewick Man was not an ancestor of the Columbia Plateau tribes were proved wrong, and the return of the Ancient One’s remains “validated what we said all along — Kennewick Man had been one of our own,” he said.

Very cool - the remains were found in 1996 in the bank of a river by two guys looking for a better view of the hydroplane races. The remains were being uncovered by gradual erosion and would have washed away and never been known if not for the work of the archaeologists. Now, they have been studied and then, 20 years later, revered and laid to rest. 40 years from now when I am done with my body, I do not give a shit about what happens to it - burn it and scatter the ashes on my farm. Other people have different ideas and this is part of what makes our human condition so wonderfully "interesting".

Now this is interesting

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The levels are not high enough to be dangerous and it has a half-life of about eight days but still. From The Barents Observer:

Radioactive Iodine over Europe first measured in Finnmark
A trace of radioactive Iodine-131 of unknown origin was in January detected over large areas in Europe. Since the isotope has a half-life of only eight days, the detection is a proof of a rather recent release.

Where the radioactivity is coming from is still a mystery.

The air filter station at Svanhovd was the first to measure small amounts of the radioactive Ionide-131 in the second week of January. The station is located a few hundred metres from Norway’s border to Russia’s Kola Peninsula in the north.

Soon, the same Iodine-131 isotope was measured in Rovaniemi in Finnish Lapland. Within the next two weeks, traces of radioactivity, although in tiny amounts, were measured in Poland, Czech Republic, Germany, France and Spain.

And taking a look-see for ourselves - from The Aviationist:

U.S. Air Force deploys WC-135 nuclear sniffer aircraft to UK as spike of radioactive Iodine levels is detected in Europe
On Feb. 17, 2017, U.S. Air Force WC-135C Constant Phoenix Nuclear explosion “sniffer,” serial number 62-3582, using radio callsign “Cobra 55” deployed to RAF Mildenhall, UK.

As we have already reported the WC-135 is a derivative of the Boeing C-135 transport and support plane. Two of these aircraft are in service today out of the ten examples operated since 1963. The aircraft are flown by flight crews from the 45th Reconnaissance Squadron from Offutt Air Force Base while mission crews are staffed by Detachment 1 from the Air Force Technical Applications Center.

The WC-135, known as the “sniffer” or “weather bird” by its crews, can carry up to 33 personnel. However, crew compliments are kept to a minimum during mission flights in order to lessen levels of radioactive exposure.

Effluent gasses are gathered by two scoops on the sides of the fuselage, which in turn trap fallout particles on filters. The mission crews have the ability to analyze the fallout residue in real-time, helping to confirm the presence of nuclear fallout and possibly determine the characteristics of the warhead involved: that’s why the aircraft is important to confirm the type of explosion of today’s test.

Did Russia have some reactor problems with one of their subs or surface vessels? That would be a logical explanation. Sounds like a loss of coolant with containment vessel breach to me - pretty serious...

The Oroville Dam - a two-fer

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Two excellent resources for the dam geek in all of us.

First, this post at Watts Up With That:

Storm: 10 trillion gallons over next 7 days for CA #LakeOroville watershed to get massive amounts of rain
Last week, I said that up to a foot of rain could be seen in the Lake Oroville watershed due to a series of “supersoaker storms” coming through. Now, the largest of the storms is bearing down. Dr. Ryan Maue of WeatherBell says there’s going to be an unbelievable “10 trillion gallons” in the next 7 days as more storms come through.

Be sure to follow the comments section - a lot of boots on the ground observations.

Second, from the excellent Engineering forum - Metabunk.org - the postings start on February 8th, 2017 and continue for 31 pages. Page 24 is of interest as  someone dug through the original construction plans and found that there were only a few core samples taken where the concrete spillway was sited - the construction people had no idea what kind of soil it was sitting on. Also, photos of large broken concrete slabs with no visible rebar - a cardinal sin for a home backyard deck let alone a structure like this.

YES! Wonderful decision from Congress

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From E&E News:

Lawmakers eye shifting climate research from NASA
Lawmakers are remaking NASA in order to leave parts of the agency's earth science program untouched but remove its climate change research.

It's still unclear exactly how lawmakers plan to transform NASA's mission, but Republicans and Trump administration officials have said they want the agency to focus on deep-space missions and away from climate change research, which is a part of its Earth Sciences Division. That has created uncertainty about the fate of the Earth Sciences Division, which accounts for about $2 billion of NASA's $20 billion budget.

At a House Science, Space and Technology Committee hearing yesterday, Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) said he wants a "rebalancing" of NASA's mission. The lawmaker told E&E News he wants the agency to reprioritize its mission because the Obama administration cut space exploration funds.

Great news - the job of NASA is to get stuff into space. It is the job of the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Organization to monitor our weather. A small group at NASA grabbed the torch and ran with it for twenty years - I wrote about them in the last half of this post: Drinking a glass of the finest wine - renewable energy

People keep thinking that carbon is bad - it is not. Carbon and Carbon Dioxide is essential for life on Earth. Without it, there would be no photosynthesis and no plants. The authors go off the rails a bit with this paragraph:

A 2008 paper by James Hansen [PDF], former director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies and one of the world’s foremost experts on climate change, showed the true gravity of the situation. In it, Hansen set out to determine what level of atmospheric CO2 society should aim for “if humanity wishes to preserve a planet similar to that on which civilization developed and to which life on Earth is adapted.” His climate models showed that exceeding 350 parts per million CO2 in the atmosphere would likely have catastrophic effects.

That would be the same James Hansen who was fired from the GISS and replaced by Gavin Schmidt. Hansen was coming up with all sorts of crackpot ideas and the media picked up on them because NASA. The GISS occupies a two floors of a building in downtown New York City near Colombia University. They have about 25 permanent scientists, about 30 visiting scientists and about 50 interns. For them to be the USA's climate authority is absurd.

Time to pass the torch back to NOAA and get NASA back to what it does best. Right now, we have to hitch a ride from the Russians every time we want to send someone up to the ISS.

How an archaeologist shovels snow

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From the book of face - click to embiggen:

20170216-archaeology.jpg

Got Eclipse?

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From Space:

February Full Moon 2017: When to See the 'Snow Moon' Eclipse
February's Snow Moon will be no ordinary full moon for skywatchers in most parts of the world, as it coincides with a special lunar eclipse that will cast a shadow over the full moon's usual bright, glowing face.

On Friday (Feb. 10), just 10 minutes after the full moon peaks, so will a penumbral lunar eclipse. The moon will spend more than 4 hours coasting through Earth's outer shadow, called the penumbra, and it will appear darker than normal.

While penumbral eclipses can be difficult to see and don't look nearly as dramatic as a total lunar eclipse — in which the moon passes through the darkest, central part of Earth's shadow — Friday's penumbral eclipse will be darker and more noticeable than most lunar eclipses of its kind. That's because the moon will veer so deeply into Earth's penumbral shadow that it will be almost entirely submerged in shade.

It's overcast and rainy here but just in case...

Time for a visit - Iceland

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From Iceland Monitor:

Four of Iceland's main volcanoes all preparing for eruption
According to geophysicist Páll Einarsson, four of Iceland's volcanoes are showing increased amounts of activity in preparation for another eruption.

Katla is the most active that it's ever been in four decades. "Katla has been unrestful since this autumn."

The other volcanoes showing increased activity are Hekla, Grímsvötn and Bárðarbunga.

I spent a couple of months over there in 1974 - the year after the Vestmannaeyjar eruption. Gorgeous place, really nice people.

Interesting development which will have an impact on everybody - cheaper fertilizers. From the University of Utah:

FLIPPING THE SWITCH ON AMMONIA PRODUCTION - PROCESS GENERATES ELECTRICITY INSTEAD OF CONSUMING ENERGY
Nearly a century ago, German chemist Fritz Haber won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for a process to generate ammonia from hydrogen and nitrogen gases. The process, still in use today, ushered in a revolution in agriculture, but now consumes around one percent of the world’s energy to achieve the high pressures and temperatures that drive the chemical reactions to produce ammonia.

Today, University of Utah chemists publish a different method, using enzymes derived from nature, that generates ammonia at room temperature. As a bonus, the reaction generates a small electrical current. The method is published in Angewandte Chemie International Edition.

Although chemistry and materials science and engineering professor Shelley Minteer and postdoctoral scholar Ross Milton have only been able to produce small quantities of ammonia so far, their method could lead to a less energy-intensive source of the ammonia, used worldwide as a vital fertilizer.

“It’s a spontaneous process, so rather than having to put energy in, it’s actually generating its own electricity,” Minteer says.

Major impact on agriculture if this process is able to scale up to production levels. Imagine making ammonia as well as enough electricity to run an irrigation pump. Makes things a lot easier for the 3rd world farmer.

Link to the paper plus an abstract can be found here: Bioelectrochemical Haber–Bosch Process: An Ammonia-Producing H2/N2 Fuel Cell

Video from the USGS’s Hawaiian Volcano Observatory - starts off with a still photo and some narration but gets really good really quick (20 seconds or so):

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