Recently in Science Category

As shit keeps getting stranger

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A new state of matter - from Phys Org:

Physics experiment with ultrafast laser pulses produces a previously unseen phase of matter
Adding energy to any material, such as by heating it, almost always makes its structure less orderly. Ice, for example, with its crystalline structure, melts to become liquid water, with no order at all.

But in new experiments by physicists at MIT and elsewhere, the opposite happens: When a pattern called a charge density wave in a certain material is hit with a fast laser pulse, a whole new charge density wave is created—a highly ordered state, instead of the expected disorder. The surprising finding could help to reveal unseen properties in materials of all kinds.

This will open up some areas for exploration. A fun time to be alive.

Yesterday's transit of Mercury

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Great video from NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) (22,000 miles up):

The Transit of Mercury seen from Space from Earth to Sky Calculus on Vimeo.

Cody's Lab shows what really happened:

Worst racist ever - President Trump

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From the San Diego, CA FOX News affiliate:

NASA’s ‘Hidden Figures’ to receive highest civilian award
Four African American women known as the “Hidden Figures” who worked at NASA during the Space Race are being awarded Congressional Gold Medals, the highest civilian award in the U.S.

President Donald Trump signed into law the Hidden Figures Congressional Gold Medal Act on Friday.

Engineers Christine Darden and Mary Jackson, as well as mathematician Katherine Johnson and computer programmer Dorothy Vaughan, were awarded Congressional Gold Medals.

Vaughan and Jackson, who passed away, were both awarded posthumously.

A fifth gold medal was granted in honor of all women who contributed to NASA during the Space Race.

A bit about their stories in the article - an amazing history. One which President Obama had eight years to award but no. He was more interested in being divisive than to unify us.

Here is a ten minute documentary parody:

Watch those roaming charges

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From the Beeb:

Migrating Russian eagles run up huge data roaming charges
Russian scientists tracking migrating eagles ran out of money after some of the birds flew to Iran and Pakistan and their SMS transmitters drew huge data roaming charges.

After learning of the team's dilemma, Russian mobile phone operator Megafon offered to cancel the debt and put the project on a special, cheaper tariff.

The team had started crowdfunding on social media to pay off the bills.

The birds left from southern Russia and Kazakhstan.

The journey of one steppe eagle, called Min, was particularly expensive, as it flew to Iran from Kazakhstan.

Min accumulated SMS messages to send during the summer in Kazakhstan, but it was out of range of the mobile network. Unexpectedly the eagle flew straight to Iran, where it sent the huge backlog of messages.

The price per SMS in Kazakhstan was about 15 roubles (18p; 30 US cents), but each SMS from Iran cost 49 roubles. Min used up the entire tracking budget meant for all the eagles.

The group crowdfunded and raised over 100,000 roubles and the carrier to agree to the lower tariff. Quite the broad distribution:

20191026-eagle.jpg

And it's official - solar minimum

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We still have 74 days until the end of the year but it's looking like we are setting a record. From SpaceWeather:

DEEP SOLAR MINIMUM:
As of today, the sun has been blank (no sunspots) 74% of the time in 2019. This is significant because the previous record for spotlessness during the Space Age was 73% set in 2008. If low sunspot counts continue apace, 2019 could end up as the deepest Solar Minimum of the modern era.

Sunspots are an excellent proxy for solar output. Less sunlight, colder temperatures. SImple as that.

Tracking space debris - Leo Labs

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From Tech Crunch:

Leo Labs and its high-fidelity space radar track orbital debris better than ever — from New Zealand
Ask anyone in the space business and they’ll tell you that orbital debris is a serious problem that will only get worse, but dealing with it is as much an opportunity as it is a problem. Leo Labs is building a global network of radar arrays that can track smaller debris than we can today, and with better precision — and the first of its new installations is about to start operations in New Zealand.

There are some 12,000 known debris objects in low Earth orbit, many of which are tracked by the U.S. Air Force and partners. But they only track debris down to 10 centimeters across — meaning in reality there may be hundreds of thousands of objects up there, just as potentially destructive to a satellite but totally unknown.

And the Leo in their name stands for Low Earth Orbit - their mission statement:

Mission
LeoLabs’ mission is to secure commercial operations in low Earth orbit (LEO). As the LEO ecosystem around our planet gets more congested, the risk of collisions rises, and the need to map the orbits of spacecraft, satellites and space debris grows with every launch. Meanwhile, new generations of commercial spacecraft, such as small and cube satellites, are causing a dramatic increase in imaging, communications and human spaceflight prospects.

LeoLabs was founded to address these risks today. With a worldwide network of ground-based, phased-array radars that enable high resolution data on objects in LEO, LeoLabs is uniquely equipped to offer foundational mapping data and services to mitigate the risks of collisions. These services include rapid orbit determination, early operational support, and ongoing orbit awareness. LeoLabs is a venture-funded company based in Menlo Park, CA, and provides its services to commercial satellite operators, government regulatory and space agencies, and satellite management services firms.

This is much better than waiting for NASA to do it - Leo Labs will do a high-tech lean and cheap implementation. NASA is pure bureaucratic bloat. They are not nimble any more. It was good to have the government funding the moon launches but privatizing space is the way to go. Weyland-Yutani anyone?

Seventy-two years later

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Chuck Yeager:

And now? We have to cage a ride from the Russians when we want to visit the International Space Station.

Yikes: bad code = bad science

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From Motherboard:

A Code Glitch May Have Caused Errors In More Than 100 Published Studies
Scientists in Hawaiʻi have uncovered a glitch in a piece of code that could have yielded incorrect results in over 100 published studies that cited the original paper.

The glitch caused results of a common chemistry computation to vary depending on the operating system used, causing discrepancies among Mac, Windows, and Linux systems. The researchers published the revelation and a debugged version of the script, which amounts to roughly 1,000 lines of code, on Tuesday in the journal Organic Letters.

“This simple glitch in the original script calls into question the conclusions of a significant number of papers on a wide range of topics in a way that cannot be easily resolved from published information because the operating system is rarely mentioned,” the new paper reads. “Authors who used these scripts should certainly double-check their results and any relevant conclusions using the modified scripts in the [supplementary information].”

Makes you wonder just how many other papers out there are citing buggy code. If it says what you want it to say, the tendency is not to give it another glance. Stunningly bad coding practice.

Modern designs*** of fission reactors can deliver cheap reliable electricity with zero carbon output. We need to build more of them. Fusion reactors are even more promising but for the last 50 years, they have always been 10-20 years in the future. This might have changed. From Popular Mechanics:

The Navy's Patent for a Compact Nuclear Fusion Reactor Is Wild
Scientists have longed to create the perfect energy source. Ideally, that source would eventually replace greenhouse gas-spewing fossil fuels, power cars, boats, and planes, and send spacecraft to remote parts of the universe. So far, nuclear fusion energy has seemed like the most likely option to help us reach those goals.

The big problem? It’s difficult to harness, and we’re nowhere near producing it at the scales we need in order to cause a seismic shift in energy policy. That's why teams of researchers across the world are racing to improve our understanding of this reaction.

Now, the U.S. Navy has jumped into the game by filing a patent for a compact fusion reactor, according to exclusive reporting by  The War Zone.

Developing a viable source of nuclear fusion energy—the same reaction that powers the sun—has long been seemingly unattainable. The patent for the device was reportedly filed on March 22, 2019, and published late last month. This technology, by all accounts, is a long shot. But it would completely revolutionize how we power our world.

Fusion reactors have been around for a long time but they have never put out more energy than is required to operate them. If the Navy is able to run at over-unity, this is a gamechanger.

Interesting bit of information, the most practical fusion reactor is the Farnsworth Fusor invented by Philo Farnsworth. If that name is familiar, it is because Philo is also the inventor of the first practical design for television transmission and reception. The system we use today is the logical outgrowth of Philo's work.

Although the Fusor is useless for power generation, it is used a lot of hospital radioisotope generation.

*** All of the bad fission reactor designs: Fukushima, Chernobyl, Three Mile Island, Windscale - these were all first sketched out onto cocktail napkins over 60 years ago. Modern designs have none of the failure modes.

The Amazon river basin - a catastrophe

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Not really - people do not realize how big this planet really is. Some numbers from Vox Day:

The clearing of the Amazon
The Amazon rainforest is disappearing, or so we're told:

An area of Amazon rainforest roughly the size of a football pitch is now being cleared every single minute, according to satellite data. The rate of losses has accelerated as Brazil's new right-wing president favours development over conservation.

Okay, so let's walk through the math.

    • Amazon rainforest = 5,500,000 square kilometers
    • Football pitch (max) = 120 meters x 90 meters = 10,800 meters
    • Square kilometers of Amazon cleared every single minute = .0108
    • Minutes until Amazon is entirely cleared = 509,259,259 minutes
    • Number of minutes in a year = 525,600
    • Years remaining to Amazon rainforest = 968

So, clearly not a problem for anyone living today, unlike immigration. And, as it happens, this reported clearance rate is actually very good news for those of us who are both ecologically conscious and numerate, as it means the rate of rainforest clearance has declined by 98 percent since 2013.

The first global, high-resolution, satellite analysis of global deforestation revealed that since 2000 an area equal to 50 football pitches has been destroyed every minute. The total loss is 10 times the area of the UK, with only a third being replaced by natural and planted reforestation, and the destruction is accelerating in the tropics.

So, if  .18 square kilometers are being replaced by natural and planted reforestation every minute and .0108 is being cleared, the Amazon will last a lot longer than 968 more years. Indeed, it appears that it is actually growing.

Numbers and not narrative. Chicken Little is a respected scientist in our current society. Sad.

A cool find - archeology

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From Science Alert:

Nearly 100 Mysterious Amphorae Have Been Recovered From an Ancient Roman Shipwreck
Archaeologists have recovered a rare and tantalizing treasure off the coast of Mallorca in Spain. Not gold or jewels, but 93 jug-like terracotta vessels called amphorae from a Roman ship that sank 1,700 years ago.

Most of these beautiful jugs are still intact and sealed, which means there's a very good chance their contents were preserved, too.

The shipwreck was found just 50 metres (164 feet) from the shore, after local resident Felix Alarcón spotted pottery shards on the seafloor in July.

Because it was so close to the popular Playa de Palma beach resort and the tourist town of Can Pastilla, the Spanish government enlisted the Balearic Institute of Maritime Archaeology Studies (IBEAM) for an emergency excavation.

Their work revealed a relatively small seafaring vessel, just 10 metres (33 feet) long and 5 metres (16 feet) wide, with the amphorae carefully stowed in the hold. It was likely a merchant ship, transporting goods between the Iberian Peninsula and Rome; Mallorca is en route between the two.

Love it - hidden in plain sight.

Interesting development - Hydrogen

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From Popular Mechanics:

Ditching Platinum for the Ocean Could Make Hydrogen Cheap
Hydrogen packs a powerful punch—that's why it's so often used in rocket fuel. It's also the most abundant element in the universe. One of the things that holds back its widespread adoption as an energy source, however, is that on Earth, hydrogen typically combines with other elements. Getting hydrogen often means either extracting or producing it, both of which can be expensive.

But now, scientists at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) have found a pairing of minerals that surpasses other precious metal materials when it comes to producing hydrogen.

This is just in the laboratory for now with no word if it can scale to industrial volumes but an interesting development.

Whoops - Nature retracts a paper

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Nature is one of the top scientific journals out there. Their papers are gold standard. Some schadenfreude from Phys.org:

Journal 'Nature' retracts ocean-warming study
The journal Nature retracted a study published last year that found oceans were warming at an alarming rate due to climate change.

The prestigious scientific journal issued the formal notice this week for the paper published Oct. 31, 2018, by researchers at the University of California, San Diego's Scripps Institution of Oceanography.

They released a statement published on the journal's website that read in part:

"Shortly after publication, arising from comments from Nicholas Lewis, we realized that our reported uncertainties were underestimated owing to our treatment of certain systematic errors as random errors.

"Despite the revised uncertainties, our method remains valid and provides an estimate of ocean warming that is independent of the ocean data underpinning other approaches."

Activists pushing the narrative and using the output from bogus computer models as backup. These mokes must have never heard of Project Argo - 3,800+ floats deployed throughout the ocean for the last 20 years. They provide a continuous measurement of ocean temperatures. What warming...

Scripps Institution of Oceanography should be ashamed of themselves for falling for this political bullshit.

About that plastic in the oceans

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Chinese cargo ships - from Agence France-Presse:

Ocean plastic waste probably comes from ships, report says
Most of the plastic bottles washing up on the rocky shores of Inaccessible Island, aptly named for its sheer cliffs rising from the middle of the South Atlantic, probably come from Chinese merchant ships, a study published Monday said.

The study offers fresh evidence that the vast garbage patches floating in the middle of oceans, which have sparked much consumer hand-wringing in recent years, are less the product of people dumping single-use plastics in waterways or on land, than they are the result of merchant marine vessels tossing their waste overboard by the ton.

The authors of the study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, or PNAS, collected thousands of pieces of waste during visits to the tiny island in 1984, 2009 and again in 2018.

The island is located roughly midway between Argentina and South Africa in the South Atlantic gyre, a vast whirlpool of currents that has created what has come to be known as an oceanic garbage patch.

While initial inspections of the trash washing up on the island showed labels indicating it had come from South America, some 2,000 miles (3,000 kilometers) to the west, by 2018 three-quarters of the garbage appeared to originate from Asia, mostly China.

Many of the plastic bottles had been crushed with their tops screwed on tight, as is customary on board ships to save space, said report author Peter Ryan, director of the FitzPatrick Institute of African Ornithology at the University of Cape Town in South Africa.

Around 90 percent of the bottles found had been produced in the previous two years, ruling out the possibility that they had been carried by ocean currents over the vast distance from Asia, which would normally take three to five years.

Since the number of Asian fishing vessels has remained stable since the 1990s, while the number of Asian -- and in particular, Chinese -- cargo vessels has vastly increased in the Atlantic, the researchers concluded that the bottles must come from merchant vessels, which toss them overboard rather than dumping them as trash at ports.

"It's inescapable that it's from ships, and it's not coming from land," Ryan told AFP.

Nice that someone is finally doing the basic research on the problem instead of just deploying theory after theory (it's the straws being handed out in restaurants).

A big hunk of glass

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From Digital Photography Review:

The world's largest optical lens has been delivered for a $168M, 3.2-gigapixel telescope camera
The SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory in California, the lab overseeing the design and fabrication of a 3.2-gigapixel digital camera for the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST), has successfully received the shipment of what may be the world's largest high-performance optical lens. The announcement was made earlier this month by the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL), where researchers designed the optical assemblies for the LSST.

Here is a two minute fly-through of the scope (no audio - just video):

Impressive - heading up to Chile's Atacama Desert. Would not mind going there for a visit, looks austere and gorgeous.

Yikes - big quake off the coast of Chile

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Ho. Li. Crap - amazing microphotography

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New technique - downright amazing. From Dorsa Amir:

This is so beyond what we had when I was studying biology or working in the field and I was exposed to some pretty high-end equipment.

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...

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