Recently in Science Category

Move over 99.96% - meet 99.995%

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Vantablack just met its match - from Science Alert:

Engineers Just Unveiled a New Blackest-Ever Material, Even Darker Than Vantablack
You might think you already know black – even super-black Vantablack, previously the blackest material known to science – but researchers just came up with a material that takes black to a new level of blackness.

The new, as-yet-unnamed ultra-black material is made from vertically aligned carbon nanotubes (CNTs), microscopic carbon strings that are a little like a fuzzy forest of tiny trees, according to the team behind the project.

And here's the rub – this CNT material can absorb more than 99.995 percent of incoming light, beating the 99.96 percent that Vantablack is able to absorb.

"In other words, it reflected 10 times less light than all other superblack materials, including Vantablack," explains an MIT release.

Like some of the best scientific discoveries, this record-setting black stuff was discovered by accident.

More at the site. Lots of uses in optics and spy cameras.

An interesting look at life

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You can find it everywhere. From the Beeb:

The desert soil that could save lives
Staring out across the desolate landscape of Valle de la Luna, the idea seems counter-intuitive.

What could the world’s driest desert, home to some of the most extreme levels of ultraviolet radiation on Earth, have to do with fighting disease? But as Michael Goodfellow, a microbiologist at Newcastle University, explains, the Atacama Desert’s inhospitality is exactly what could make it useful to us.

“The premise was that since the conditions are so harsh in the Atacama Desert, organisms become adapted to those conditions,” he says. Goodfellow hoped that if bacteria had managed to survive in such a hostile environment, they would likely produce novel chemical structures which could have important medical applications.

In 2008, he was handed a soil sample taken from the desert’s hyper-arid core, parts of which are thought to have experienced virtually no rainfall for millions of years and were once considered beyond the dry limit for life. “Quite frankly, we didn’t expect to isolate anything,” Goodfellow admits. But to his surprise, he was able to grow a diverse population of bacteria from the sample, sparking a decade of research into the desert’s microbial fauna.

The Atacama is in the public eye as it is the site of the Large Millimeter Array and the Cosmology telescopes. Fascinating place - would have loved to visit there.

Things are quiet today - CA quakes

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For once, California is very quiet - from the USGS Earthquake map:

20190912-quake.JPG

Just one small quake today and this one was far away from the Ridgecrest storm that has been going on since early July.

Now this could be interesting

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The Chinese have the largest radio telescope in the world. They heard something. From Xinhua:

China's giant telescope picks up mysterious signals from deep space
Chinese astronomers have detected repeated fast radio bursts (FRB) - mysterious signals believed to be from a source about 3 billion light years from Earth - with the largest and most sensitive radio telescope ever built.

Scientists detected the signals with the Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical Radio Telescope (FAST) and they are carefully cross-checking and processing them, according to researchers at the National Astronomical Observatories of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (NAOC).

FRBs are the brightest bursts known in the universe. They are called "fast" because these blips are very short, only several milliseconds in duration. But there is no reasonable explanation for their origin.

Might be just a leak from the break-room microwave oven but you never can tell. Things might get interesting...

Here is a blurb about the building of the scope and here is the English website for FAST

Heh - ship of fools

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People looking for global warming find themselves trapped in arctic ice. From Climate Change Dispatch:

Ship Of Fools VI – Arctic ‘Global Warming’ Mission Scuppered By Hard White Substance
Yet another greenie expedition to the Arctic to raise awareness of ‘global warming’ has been scuppered by unexpectedly large quantities of ice.

This brings to a total of six the number of Ship of Fools expeditions where weather reality has made a mockery of climate theory.

According to Maritime Bulletin:

Arctic tours ship MS MALMO with 16 passengers on board got stuck in ice on Sep 3 off Longyearbyen, Svalbard Archipelago, halfway between Norway and the North Pole.

The ship is on Arctic tour with Climate Change documentary film team, and tourists, concerned with Climate Change and melting Arctic ice.

All 16 Climate Change warriors were evacuated by helicopter in challenging conditions, all are safe. 7 crew remains on board, waiting for Coast Guard ship assistance.

The reporter, Erofey Schkvarkin clearly has a sense of humor. He adds:

Something is very wrong with Arctic ice, instead of melting as ordered by UN/IPCC, it captured the ship with Climate Change Warriors.

You can read more about these expeditions at this post from August, 2016

Finally, temperature is just one factor controlling the behavior of the ice pack. Wind and currents play a huge role as well. There was that 2013 Russian exploration ship that got stuck in the ice at Commonwealth Bay and had to be rescued (this happened in Antarctica). Here is a film of the same bay in 1912 shot by the Douglas Mawson expedition:

Choked with ice.

True North - first time in 350 years

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Interesting press release from the British Geological Society:

Hold onto your compass: true north and magnetic north cross at Greenwich for first time in 360 years.
Compasses at Greenwich will point to true north for the first time in 360 years at some point within the next two weeks.

The angle a compass needle makes between true north and magnetic north is called declination. As the magnetic field changes all the time, so does declination at any given location. For the past few hundred years in the UK, declination has been negative, meaning that all compass needles have pointed west of true north.

The line of zero declination, called the agonic, is moving westward at a present rate of around 20 km per year. By September 2019, for the first time since around 1660, the compass needle will point directly to true north at Greenwich, London, before slowly turning eastwards.

We live on a wonderfully dynamic and fluid planet. All sorts of things are in continuous flux - the magnetic poles, solar output, variable climate, sea level, composition of our atmosphere.

A bit of a rumble

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Three hours ago - this is along the fault line that has a lot of people concerned.

Magnitude 5.9 off-shore of Bandon Oregon

From the Bellingham Herald:

Did you feel it? Second moderate-sized quake in a week rattles Northwest region
For the second time in approximately a week, a moderate-sized earthquake struck off the Oregon coast Thursday morning, Sept. 5. Just like last week, the U.S. Tsunami Warning Center is not issuing any alerts following the 5.9 magnitude quake that struck at 8:02 a.m.

According to the U.S. Geological Survey website, Thursday’s seismic activity was centered 10 kilometers beneath the surface and approximately 182 miles west-northwest of Coos Bay, Oregon. The epicenter was approximately 433 miles from Bellingham, according to googlemaps.com.

According to the USGS, the quake was centered near the Blanco Fracture Zone, which according to Oregon State University is part of the boundary between the Juan de Fuca-Gorda and Pacific plates.

As of 9:30 a.m., nine people had r reported feeling the quake to the USGS, but one of those was in Tacoma.

Fortunately, my coffee place is about 300 feet above sea level - should be safe there...

by a higher power. From National Geographic:

Hidden earthquake risk found lurking beneath Los Angeles
The ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach bustle with activity—their colorful array of shipping containers are stacked and unstacked in a never-ending, multibillion-dollar game of Tetris. But a previously overlooked danger lurks below this frenzy: A fault capable of generating earthquakes magnitude 6.3 or greater.

The Wilmington fault, as it’s called, is an elusive type of fracture. Unlike many faults, which crack Earth’s surface like an egg, the Wilmington fault is “blind,” which means it’s concealed beneath the surface, making it especially difficult to study. So while scientists have long known the fault is present—stretching 12.4 miles under southern Los Angeles into San Pedro Bay—it was presumed to have sat quiet for millions of years.

Now, a new analysis of the system, published in Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America, suggests that isn’t the case. Using a cluster of clues incorporated into a three-dimensional model, the study authors posit that the fault has been active much more recently than once thought —and likely still poses a risk to people on the surface.

6.3? Come on - how about a nice 9 Mag... Clean out all the vermin - Hollywood? Pop culture? The media?
Time to start over again with a clean slate. Gorgeous state, bad people.

And norora

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Went outside a couple of times last night and didn't see anything. K-index was nice and high but nothing showed:

20190902-kindex.gif

Some people would do a mic drop - I guess this is a radio telescope drop.

Look up tonight

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Chance for aurora borealis - the Planetary K-index is above 6

20190901-kindex.gif

And from NASA's Spaceweather:

G2-CLASS GEOMAGNETIC STORM--UNDERWAY NOW: A stream of high-speed solar wind is lashing Earth's magnetic field, blowing at speeds near 700 km/s. This is sparking geomagnetic storms around the poles. At the moment, G2-class storm is underway. If this storm persists until nightfall, sky watchers in the USA as far south as WisconsinMichigan and Montana could see Northern Lights. Aurora alerts: SMS Text.

We live on an interesting planet. Love it here!

I feel the earth move

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Did a wee bit of digging and turns out that we have been having a lot of very small quakes. Not large enough to trigger the alert system I subscribe to but large enough to get noticed. From Oregon Public Radio:

Thousands Of Tremors Hit Northwest, But Don't Necessarily Signal The Big One
Did you feel the ground move this week? Not likely, even though a wave of small tremors was spreading under people’s feet in the coastal Pacific Northwest.

The Pacific Northwest Seismic Network has detected more than 4,500 tremors over the past two weeks deep beneath the Olympic Peninsula and southern Vancouver Island and from another swarm stretching from Eugene to the Siskiyou Mountains.

It’s a phenomenon called “episodic tremor and slip” or “slow slip.” Humans can’t feel it, but seismologists have discovered this happens along Cascadia’s tectonic plate boundary on a regular basis — every 14 months or so in the case of Puget Sound and on a different cycle in Oregon and northern California.

The key question for seismic network director Harold Tobin at the University of Washington (UW) is whether the current slow slip has implications for the feared Big One, a large Cascadia earthquake.

And what keeps me awake at night:

The last full rip of the Cascadia Subduction Zone happened in January 1700. The exact date and destructive power was determined from buried forests along the Pacific Northwest coast and an “orphan tsunami” that washed ashore in Japan. Geologists digging in coastal marshes and offshore canyon bottoms have also found evidence of earlier great earthquakes and tsunamis. The inferred timeline of those events gives a recurrence interval between Cascadia megaquakes of roughly every 300 to 600 years, according to the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network.

Fortunatley, Camano Island is well sheltered by the other San Juan islands, Whidbey in particular. FEMA shows us as getting a gradual five foot surge but that will be it.

Classical reference in the post title

Good morning - here is your earthquake

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Just came in over the transom - from the USGS Earthquake website. From the NWS National Tsunami Warning Center

No tsunami expected. I will be looking at the water level today but not expecting to see anything. My feet are still dry.

From the USGS Earthquake Hazards website.

No word beyond this initial report. This is close to where the Tōhoku earthquake happened in 2011 - this is the one that took out the Fukushima reactor.

Our quiet Sun

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From NASA's excellent Space Weather website:

A SUMMER WITHOUT SUNSPOTS: Since northern summer began on June 21st, the sun has been blank--that is, without sunspots--88% of the time. The only interruptions have been a handful of tiny quiet sunspots that sometimes disintegrated within hours of forming. The remainder of summer appears set to continue in the same way. Welcome to Solar Minimum!

GEOMAGNETIC STORM FORECAST: Earth is about to be hit by a double-stream of solar wind. The two streams are flowing from holes in the sun's atmosphere.

For that last news item, check the Planetary K-Index every so often. If it is above 6, the chances for aurora in the Pacific Northwest are really good. Always a fun display. Right now it is hovering around 1 and 2 so no luck...

As the stars move overhead

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Brilliant video of the Milky Way Galaxy as it moves. Actually, it does not move. We move. Brilliant correct video:

I hope that they are planning to do another version someplace where the sky is darker and for more than just three hours. Great idea - see the Earth's rotation.

No sign of a tsunami

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The mouth of the Stillaguamish River (named for the tribe) is about four miles from my house and this height gage is out far enough that the water level is strongly influenced by the tides.  The tidal action here is squirrely enough that a computer model delivers a very fuzzy representation so an actual real-time gage is nice to have.

Anyway, reviewing the graph shows no visible sign of any tsunami or change in water height from this morning's quake off the Oregon coast. I looked for similar data for the Columbia river and that was not available - they do not have a gage close enough to the river's mouth to be tidally influenced.

20190816-river.JPG

It is Washington after all

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This is my surprised face. From The Smithsonian:

A New Species of Leech Is Discovered Near Washington, D.C.
In the summer of 2015, when Smithsonian research zoologist Anna Phillips and other scientists were standing in slow-moving swamp water, letting leeches latch onto their bare legs or gathering them up in nets from muddy pond bottoms, they didn’t realize that some of the bloodsuckers they’d collected belonged to an entirely new species. But in a just-published paper in the Journal of Parasitology, Phillips and her colleagues from the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México and the Royal Ontario Museum report that a previously unknown leech species, Macrobdella mimicus, is the first to be discovered on the continent in more than 40 years.

And the little guy is running for President in 3... 2... 1...

Yikes - large quake

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Off the coast of Oregon about 30 minutes ago. No issued tsunami threat - from the National Tsunami Warning Center:

EVALUATION
----------
There is NO tsunami danger from this earthquake.

PRELIMINARY EARTHQUAKE PARAMETERS
---------------------------------
The following parameters are based on a rapid preliminary
assessment of the earthquake and changes may occur.

    • Magnitude 5.4
    • Origin Time 0723 AKDT Aug 16 2019
    • 0823 PDT Aug 16 2019
    • 1523 UTC Aug 16 2019
    • Coordinates 44.4 North 129.2 West
    • Depth 7 miles
    • Location off the coast of Oregon

Watching the tide record today - see if there is an anomoly.

Where I am on the island is actually quite protected against the tsunami that will come from the Cascadia Subduction Zone when it cuts loose again. There is not a straight path for the water to surge in - it will hit the other San Juan islands including Whidbey and the surge will be dissapated. FEMA predicts at most a five foot increase in the tide waters. Made sure to check it out before buying the place.

Global cooling - mushrooms

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Another bit of evidence for cooling, not warming - from The Bellingham Herald:

Fall mushroom season starts early in Northwest
Pacific Northwesterners who forage for wild mushrooms are noticing that the late summer and fall delicacies are coming in early this year. Edible wild mushrooms are now flooding wholesale markets.

In the maritime Northwest, chanterelles are coming in at least three weeks early. In the Cascade Mountains, porcinis (aka king boletes) and matsutakes (aka pine mushroom) are poking up earlier than normal too.

“We’re already seeing mushrooms coming in that generally don’t show up until the middle of September,” Charlie Wiley, a commercial mushroom buyer in Southwest Washington and owner of Pacific Northwest Wild Mushrooms, said. “We’ve got pine mushrooms coming in. I can’t remember ever getting them in August.”

It is our sun that drives our climate and our sun is unusually quiet. Very low output. The solar wind hitting Earth's magnetic field forms a shield against cosmic rays and prevents them from hitting our planet's atmosphere. With this shield diminished, the cosmic rays are promoting cloud formation - providing nucleation sites. This raises Earth's reflectivity (albedo) and more of the sun's light is reflected back out to space.

From i Sci phile:

Is Big Bang Theory Wrong? Star Older Than Universe Discovered
The Universe is thought to have popped into existence some 13.8 billion years ago when an infinitesimal point expanded in just a fraction of a second. The Big Bang theory has stood for the best part of 100 years after Belgian physicist Georges Lemaître first proposed in 1927 the expansion of the Universe could be traced back to a single point.

However, the well-accepted model is now under the microscope after a team of researchers found a star which appears to be older than the cosmos. A star known as “Methuselah star”, or scientifically called HD 140283, is situated about 200 lightyears away and has stumped experts.

Analysis of the star showed that it contained very little iron content, which would suggest that it formed during a period when the iron element was not abundant in the Universe. This in turn led to the discovery the star is 14.5 billion years old, some 0.7 billion years older than the Universe. Experts met at a conference in California in July in an attempt to solve the mystery, but so far questions have just led to more questions – and it could lead to a “scientific revolution”.

Well... It was a good theory while it lasted. (And somewhere, God is chuckling to himself)

Cool - thunderstorms in the forecast

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I love a good T-Storm - miss them as we do not get many out in the pacific northwest. From Cliff Mass:

Thunderstorms on Friday Night and Saturday Morning
Get your lightning rods handy, because there is a good chance that a large area of thunderstorms will sweep northward over Washington on Friday night and Saturday morning.

The action is associated with the landfall of an upper low on the southern Northwest coast.

More at his site - hope that these do not trigger any wildfires. We have been lucky this season.

Attended a conference in Rapid City, South Dakota a number of years ago and there was a wonderful T-Storm almost every evening. Loved it. Beautiful part of the country.

Thermus scotoductus? From Springer:

Biogeography of thermophiles and predominance of Thermus scotoductus in domestic water heaters
Abstract
Built systems such as water heaters can harbor extremophiles similar to those residing in natural hot springs, but the extent of colonization is not well understood. To address this, we conducted a survey of thermophilic microorganisms in household water heaters across the United States. Filter samples and inoculated cultures were collected by citizen-scientists from 101 homes. Draft genomes were assembled from cultured isolates and 16S rRNA genes were sequenced from filter samples. 28% of households harbored communities with unambiguous DNA signatures of thermophilic organisms, 36% of households provided viable inocula, and 21% of households had both. All of the recovered cultures as well as the community sequencing results revealed Thermus scotoductus to be the dominant thermophile in domestic water heaters, with a minority of water heaters also containing Meiothermus species and a few containing Aquificae. Sequence distance comparisons show that allopatric speciation does not appear to be a strong control on T. scotoductus distribution. Our results demonstrate that thermophilic organisms are widespread in hot tap water, and that Thermus scotoductus preferentially colonizes water heaters at the expense of local environmental Thermus strains.

Curious - I guess they come in on city water and thrive in the heaters. Who'da thunk it...

No-rora Borealis tonight

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Now down to three; never got above five. Oh well...

Very cool news - Parker Solar Probe

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From C-NET:

NASA's mission to 'touch the sun' surprises during first data delivery
Right now, there's a tiny little spacecraft zipping around the sun moving faster than any other man-made object has ever flown. The spacecraft, known as the Parker Solar Probe, is approaching the one-year anniversary of its launch on Aug. 12 and it's been delivering some pretty stellar observations so far. I mean, just look at the image it snapped from inside the sun's atmosphere back in December! After two flybys, Parker has been dumping data back to Earth for scientists to examine -- and it's exceeding researchers' expectations.

In a blog post on Aug. 1, researchers from Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory, which designed and built the spacecraft, announced that the Parker Solar Probe had delivered 22GB of data after its second encounter with the sun finished up on May 6, performing better than prelaunch estimates. The amount of data was 50% more than researchers previously expected to see.

"As we learned more about operating in this environment and these orbits, the team did a great job of increasing data downloads of the information gathered by the spacecraft's amazing instrument," said Nickalaus Pinkine, a missions operator at JHAPL.

An amazing project and so far, it is working much better than anticipated.

Quakes in California

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California is still rattling like a soda truck on a dirt road. From Zero Hedge:

Over 80,000 Quakes Have Hit California Since July 4th, Aftershocks Headed "Toward The Garlock Fault"
The recent seismic activity in the state of California has taken a strange turn.  According to the Los Angeles Times, there have been more than 80,000 earthquakes in the state since July 4th, and most of those quakes were aftershocks of the two very large events that hit the Ridgecrest area early in the month.  Over the past couple of weeks, however, a very unusual pattern has begun to emerge. 

We have started to see aftershocks creep toward two of the largest fault lines in southern California, and this is making seismologists very nervous.  The fact that we are seeing aftershocks “approaching the Owens Valley fault” is definitely alarming, but of far more concern is the fact that the Ridgecrest aftershocks are also headed “toward the Garlock fault”. 

The following comes from a local California news source

According to a Los Angeles Times article , aftershocks of the magnitude 7.1 earthquake near Ridgecrest have been creeping into areas close to two major earthquake faults which is concerning for some seismologists on whether it could trigger another huge temblor.

“Some aftershocks have rumbled northwest of the Searles Valley earthquake, approaching the Owens Valley fault. That fault triggered an earthquake of perhaps magnitude 7.8 or 7.9 in 1872, one of the largest in California’s modern record,” the article explains. “The Ridgecrest aftershocks have also headed southeast toward the Garlock fault, a lesser-known fault capable of producing an earthquake of magnitude 8 or more. The fault along the northern edge of the Mojave Desert can send shaking south and west into Bakersfield and Ventura and Los Angeles counties.”

In the end, this could turn out to be nothing, but there are a couple of reasons why we want to keep a very close eye on the Garlock fault.

First of all, the Garlock fault is the second largest fault line in the entire state of California, and it is a major threat to southern California.

Secondly, the Garlock fault runs directly into the San Andreas fault, and many believe that a major quake along one could potentially trigger a major quake along the other.

More at the site. The Garlock Fault and the San Andreas are both highly stressed and ready to rip. This is a matter of when and not if. Interesting times.

Modest earthquake this morning - from the USGS Earthquake center:

M 5.4 - 227km W of Bandon, Oregon

No Tsunami warning at this time

This is where the big one will happen - these Mag 9 quakes happen every 300-500 years and the last one happened in January 26th, 1700 - 318 years ago.

Another shake

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An aftershock to the July 12th 4.1 Mag earthquake. From the USGS:

M 2.5 - 3km W of Monroe, Washington

Nothing much else to report.

Over 50 earthquakes today. None under 2.5 Mag (my lower threshold for reporting) and several over 4.0. All of them shallow. What is going on?

This has been around for a while - surfaces every other year or so. From The Guardian:

Indoor carbon dioxide levels could be a health hazard, scientists warn
Indoor levels of carbon dioxide could be clouding our thinking and may even pose a wider danger to human health, researchers say.

While air pollutants such as tiny particles and nitrogen oxides have been the subject of much research, there have been far fewer studies looking into the health impact of CO2.

However, the authors of the latest study – which reviews current evidence on the issue – say there is a growing body of research suggesting levels of CO2 that can be found in bedrooms, classrooms and offices might have harmful effects on the body, including affecting cognitive performance.

And some numbers:

Traditionally, the team say, it had been thought that CO2 levels would need to reach a very high concentration of at least 5,000 parts per million (ppm) before they would affect human health. But a growing body of research suggests CO2 levels as low as 1,000ppm could cause health problems, even if exposure only lasts for a few hours.

The team say crowded or poorly ventilated classrooms, office environments and bedrooms have all been found to have levels of CO2 that exceed 1,000ppm, and are spaces that people often remain in for many hours at a time. Air-conditioned trains and planes have also been found to exceed 1,000ppm.

OK - let us look at a real-world environment with elevated levels of CO2 in the breathing air. Submarines. They spend months under water and they do scrub the CO2 out of the breathing air but not all of it. This is not needed and much easier to allow a certain level to accumulate. From Anthony Watts, October 17, 2012:

Claim: CO2 makes you stupid? Ask a submariner that question
From Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, something that might finally explain Al Gore’s behavior – too much time spent indoors and in auditoriums giving pitches about the dangers of CO2. One wonders though what the Navy submarine service has to say about this new research:

We try to keep CO2 levels in our U.S. Navy submarines no higher than 8,000 parts per million, about 20 time current atmospheric levels. Few adverse effects are observed at even higher levels. – Senate testimony of Dr. William Happer, here

This is backed up by the publication from the National Academies of Science Emergency and Continuous Exposure Guidance Levels for Selected Submarine Contaminants

which documents effects of CO2 at much much higher levels than the medical study, and shows regular safe exposure at these levels…

Data collected on nine nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines indicate an average CO2 concentration of 3,500 ppm with a range of 0-10,600 ppm, and data collected on 10 nuclear-powered attack submarines indicate an average CO2 concentration of 4,100 ppm with a range of 300-11,300 ppm (Hagar 2003). – page 46

…but shows no concern at the values of 600-2500 ppm of this medical study from LBNL. I figure if the Navy thinks it is safe for men who have their finger on the nuclear weapons keys, then that is good enough for me.

Sigh. Fake Science. Rhetoric and not actual facts. One last quote from the researcher at the Guardian article:

“There is enough evidence to be concerned, not enough to be alarmed. But there is no time to waste,” said Dr Michael Hernke, a co-author of the study from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, stressing further research was needed.

Of course "further research was needed" - that is Dr. Hernke's source of income. Salary and operating costs for his lab. He wants a bigger rice bowl and is willing to prostitute science to get it. Do these people have no shame?

About that climate catastrophe

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The Gang Green keeps telling us that our planet is losing plant life hand over fist. Not so. Carbon Dioxide is a key part of photosynthesys - it is plant food and the more of it that goes into our atmosphere, the more plants grow.
From Human Progress:

Rejoice, the Earth Is Becoming Greener
Amid all the talk of an imminent planetary catastrophe caused by emissions of carbon dioxide, another fact is often ignored: global greening is happening faster than climate change. The amount of vegetation growing on the earth has been increasing every year for at least 30 years. The evidence comes from the growth rate of plants and from satellite data.

In 2016 a paper was published by 32 authors from 24 institutions in eight countries that analysed satellite data and concluded that there had been a roughly 14% increase in green vegetation over 30 years. The study attributed 70% of this increase to the extra carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. The lead author on the study, Zaichun Zhu of Beijing University, says this is equivalent to adding a new continent of green vegetation twice the size of the mainland United States.

Global greening has affected all ecosystems – from arctic tundra to coral reefs to plankton to tropical rain forests – but shows up most strongly in arid places like the Sahel region of Africa, where desertification has largely now reversed. This is because plants lose less water in the process of absorbing carbon dioxide if the concentration of carbon dioxide is higher. Ecosystems and farms will be less water-stressed at the end of this century than they are today during periods of low rainfall.

There should have been no surprise about this news. Thousands of experiments have been conducted over many years in which levels of CO2 had been increased over crops or wild ecosystems and boosted their growth. The owners of commercial greenhouses usually pump CO2 into the air to speed up the growth of plants. CO2 is plant food.

The original paper is at Nature:

Greening of the Earth and its drivers
Global environmental change is rapidly altering the dynamics of terrestrial vegetation, with consequences for the functioning of the Earth system and provision of ecosystem services. Yet how global vegetation is responding to the changing environment is not well established. Here we use three long-term satellite leaf area index (LAI) records and ten global ecosystem models to investigate four key drivers of LAI trends during 1982–2009. We show a persistent and widespread increase of growing season integrated LAI (greening) over 25% to 50% of the global vegetated area, whereas less than 4% of the globe shows decreasing LAI (browning). Factorial simulations with multiple global ecosystem models suggest that CO2 fertilization effects explain 70% of the observed greening trend, followed by nitrogen deposition (9%), climate change (8%) and land cover change (LCC) (4%). CO2 fertilization effects explain most of the greening trends in the tropics, whereas climate change resulted in greening of the high latitudes and the Tibetan Plateau. LCC contributed most to the regional greening observed in southeast China and the eastern United States. The regional effects of unexplained factors suggest that the next generation of ecosystem models will need to explore the impacts of forest demography, differences in regional management intensities for cropland and pastures, and other emerging productivity constraints such as phosphorus availability.

The "environmentalists" are again promoting a narrative while people like Professor Zhu are promoting facts.

California is still shaking

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Lots of smaller quakes are rattling California - 2.5 Mag up to 3.8 or so. All relatively shallow so they will be felt a lot more than deeper ones. There are also six smallish quakes (2.5 Mag to 3.3 Mag) running along the subduction zone - activity is starting to spread.

From the Los Angeles Times:

No deaths reported in the 7.1 magnitude earthquake that struck Southern California
The 7.1 magnitude earthquake that rocked Southern California on Friday night rattled buildings, fractured roadways and left residents on edge, but did not cause any fatalities or major injuries, officials said.

California’s second major earthquake in less than two days struck near Ridgecrest, a Mojave Desert town about 125 miles northeast of Los Angeles. The same area was rattled by a magnitude 6.4 earthquake, the largest in nearly two decades, on the morning of July Fourth.

The Friday night earthquake was about 10 times larger, seismologists said. Shaking was felt as far away as Phoenix, Las Vegas, Baja California and Reno, according to crowd-sourced data on the U.S. Geological Survey.

Again, very glad that the stress is being relieved by a bunch of smaller quakes than by one really big one. There were about 20 smaller but still significant aftershocks with this one.

Lots more earthquakes

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Very active system down in California. Seeing 40-50 more quakes since this afternoon. All in the 2.5 to 4 Mag range so nothing life threatening and very happy that this fault is letting off in a series of smaller quakes. One big one with this much stored energy would be catastrophic.

Shake rattle and roll - California

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A whole bunch of earthquakes in Southern California - ranging from 2.6 Mag up to 6.4 Mag. Here is a screen-cap from the USGS quake map (the image is about 30 miles square):

20190704-quake.JPG

From the Los Angeles Times:

Largest earthquake in decades hits Southern California, measuring 6.4 magnitude
A 6.4 magnitude earthquake struck Southern California on Thursday, the largest temblor to hit the region in two decades.

The 10:33 a.m. quake was centered in the Searles Valley, a remote area of Kern County about 100 miles north of Los Angeles, and was felt as far away as Long Beach and Las Vegas.

There were no immediate reports of fatalities, though authorities in the city of Ridgecrest were responding to dozens of emergency calls.

The quake was the largest in Southern California since the 7.1 Hector Mine quake struck the Twentynine Palms Marine Corps base in 1999.

Felt as far away as Long Beach and Las Vegas.

Shake rattle and roll - Canada

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Had a bit of an earthquake last night in Canada. 6.2 Mag and only 10km deep off the coast of Bella Bella on Vancouver Island. No tsunami though.

Whole lotta shaking going on

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Off the coast of Oregon - shallow too, only 10km deep:

Eight quakes ranging from 3.2 to 5.4 Mag.

20190622-quake.JPG

This is right where the Cascadia Subduction Zone is located and is the origin of the 9 Mag quakes that happen every 300 to 500 years. Last one was January 26th, 1700. There is a wonderful book that covers this event: The orphan tsunami of 1700—Japanese clues to a parent earthquake in North America. Part detective story, part history and lots of science. Available for free download.

When the big one happens again, we are screwed. Camano Island actually fares really well because we are behind Whidby Island so the tsunami will only be a couple of feet high. The coast will be toast.

Great news on the astronomy front

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From the website for the Thirty Meter Telescope:

Notice to Proceed Issued for TMT on Maunakea
The Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) has issued a notice to proceed (NTP) to the University of Hawaii for the Thirty Meter Telescope on Maunakea. The NTP is a formal communication indicating that all pre-construction conditions and mitigation measures specifically required as a condition of the Conservation District Use Permit (CDUP) have been met. With the NTP, TMT can proceed with construction.

Henry Yang, Chair, TMT International Observatory Board of Governors, issued the following statement in response to the news:

“TMT is pleased and grateful that the notice to proceed has been issued by the Department of Land and Natural Resources to the University of Hawaii. We remain committed to being good stewards of Maunakea, and to honoring and respecting the culture and traditions of Hawaii. It has been a long process to get to this point. We are deeply grateful to our many friends and community supporters for their advice and for their encouragement and support of the TMT project over the years.”

Wonderful news - everyone had their hands out for a shakedown and it took about five years to settle. Now we can begin with some real science. The TMT is a joint collaboration between the USA, Canada, China, India and Japan. This is a huge project.

And it begins - the moon

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Almost twenty years later than portrayed in the movie but still, better late than never (but better never late).
From Baylor University:

Mass Anomaly Detected Under the Moon’s Largest Crater
A mysterious large mass of material has been discovered beneath the largest crater in our solar system — the Moon’s South Pole-Aitken basin.

“Imagine taking a pile of metal five times larger than the Big Island of Hawaii and burying it underground. That’s roughly how much unexpected mass we detected,” said lead author Peter B. James, Ph.D., assistant professor of planetary geophysics in Baylor’s College of Arts & Sciences.

The crater itself is oval-shaped, as wide as 2,000 kilometers — roughly the distance between Waco, Texas, and Washington, D.C. — and several miles deep. Despite its size, it cannot be seen from Earth because it is on the far side of the Moon.

The study — ”Deep Structure of the Lunar South Pole-Aitken Basin” — is published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.

Different crater and, like I said, 18 years later but still - it could be the beginning of something wonderful:

The truth is out there...

A great disturbance in the Force

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Actually, not that bad.

We just had a Mag 2.5 earthquake near Neah Bay. 37km deep so very minor.

They found it - Beresheet

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From NASA:

Beresheet Impact Site Spotted

20190516-beresheet.jpg

The photo above shows the landing site of the Israeli Beresheet spacecraft on a region of the Moon called Sea of Serenity, or Mare Serenitatis in Latin. On April 11, 2019,

SpaceIL, a non-profit organization, attempted to land its spacecraft in this ancient volcanic field on the nearside of the Moon. After a smooth initial descent, Beresheet made a hard landing on the surface.

As soon as its orbit placed NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) over the landing site on April 22, 2019, LRO imaged Beresheet’s impact site. The LRO Camera (LROC) consists of three imagers: a seven-color Wide Angle Camera (WAC) and two black-and-white Narrow Angle Cameras (NAC) mounted on the LRO, which has been studying the Moon from orbit for a decade. NAC captured the Beresheet impact photo.

A lot more at the site - some amazing technology at work. People complain about all the money that NASA spends but they fail to realize all the basic technologies that were developed and are in common (and cheap) use today.

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