Recently in Science Category

You will never get a handle on Carbon Dioxide (otherwise known as Plant Food).
From SciTech Daily:

Deadwood Releasing 10.9 Gigatons of Carbon Every Year – More Than All Fossil Fuel Emissions Combined
Decaying wood releases around 10.9 gigatons of carbon worldwide every year, according to a new study by an international team of scientists.

This is roughly equivalent to 115 percent of fossil fuel emissions.

Co-author of the study Professor David Lindenmayer from The Australian National University (ANU) says it’s the first time researchers have been able to quantify the contribution of deadwood to the global carbon cycle.

“Until now, little has been known about the role of dead trees,” Professor Lindenmayer said.

“We know living trees play a vital role in absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. But up until now, we didn’t know what happens when those trees decompose. It turns out, it has a massive impact.”

Yeah - photosynthesis takes in Sunlight, Water and CO2 and uses these to create the complex carbohydrates that the plants need to thrive.  When the plant dies, the left-over materials are recycled back to nature.  The CO2 is freed up for the next plant that needs it.  Earth once had CO2 over 9,000ppm - we are currently at 450ppm or thereabouts.

A bit of goings on in the Canary Islands

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They had been having some earthquakes a few days ago - this was caused by magma movement.
Now, the magma has broken through and is really moving - from GranCanariaTv

Some interesting news - Canary Islands

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The Canary Islands are volcanic - still very active.  If they let go, they are lined up perfectly to launch the mother of all tsunamis right at our East Coast. I will miss Boston - there are some fun places there.  Cape Cod, Cape Ann, the North Shore. Maine.  But, if NYC and DC get taken out too?  I will not shed too many tears.  Two headlines:

Interesting times...

It's that damned climate change.  I knew it was up to no good. Yeah.  But...
From Pacific Northwest treasure Cliff Mass:

The Walden Wildfire and Climate Change: Why Are Major Media and Politicians Distorting the Truth?
If the nation and world are going to deal with climate change, it is essential that the public is given accurate information.

Unfortunately, a number of media outlets (e.g., the Seattle Times and NPR), politicians, and activist groups are consistently distorting the truth. There are few better examples of this problematic behavior than claims that the wildfire that destroyed the eastern Washington town of Malden in September 2020 was the result of climate change.

This blog will provide you with facts based on data, peer-reviewed papers, and government reports. You can decide whether some folks are misinforming you.

The Claims
During the past year, a number of media outlets, politicians, and climate activist groups have made unfounded claims that the Malden/Babb fire, which destroyed the town of Malden (roughly 30 miles south of Spokane) was the result of human-induced global warming.

For example, last week the Seattle Times did a long story on the Malden fire and concluded.

National Public Radio, including local NPR station KNKX, did a story with the suggestion that the fires were the result of "global warming hitting us hard."

And then there is our governor, who claimed the Malden conflagration was a "climate fire"

Cliff proceeds to slay all of these dragons with the twin swords of science and historical record. "Climate fire"? no such thing. Much more at the site - photos, links to the actual data. Facts. Inconvenient truths.

A good look at Ivermectin

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Unbiased.  From Science Direct:

Ivermectin: a multifaceted drug of Nobel prize-honoured distinction with indicated efficacy against a new global scourge, COVID-19

Abstract
In 2015, the Nobel Committee for Physiology or Medicine, in its only award for treatments of infectious diseases since six decades prior, honoured the discovery of ivermectin (IVM), a multifaceted drug deployed against some of the world’s most devastating tropical diseases. Since March 2020, when IVM was first used against a new global scourge, COVID-19, more than 20 randomized clinical trials (RCTs) have tracked such inpatient and outpatient treatments. Six of seven meta-analyses of IVM treatment RCTs reporting in 2021 found notable reductions in COVID-19 fatalities, with a mean 31% relative risk of mortality vs. controls. During mass IVM treatments in Peru, excess deaths fell by a mean of 74% over 30 days in its ten states with the most extensive treatments. Reductions in deaths correlated with the extent of IVM distributions in all 25 states with p < 0.002. Sharp reductions in morbidity using IVM were also observed in two animal models, of SARS-CoV-2 and a related betacoronavirus. The indicated biological mechanism of IVM, competitive binding with SARS-CoV-2 spike protein, is likely non-epitope specific, possibly yielding full efficacy against emerging viral mutant strains.

Much more at the site.  It is worth noting that Science Direct is a division of Elsevier Publishing - a major publisher of scientific papers.  This is not a fly-by-night operation by any means. They publish The Lancet, CELL, Gray's Anatomy and some 2,500 other Journals and Publications.

A bit close to home - earthquake

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Deep (14.3 miles) and fairly small (Mag 2.5) - still...

M 2.5 - 13 km WNW of Ault Field, Washington

That is right across the bay from my back door. 1:32 PM this afternoon.

Crap - big quake in Haiti

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About 5:30 AM their time - from USGS:

M 7.2 - 12 km NE of Saint-Louis du Sud, Haiti

Only 10km (6 miles) deep so this will be a major one.

No tsunami threat reported.

The 2010 quake in Haiti was where these people got their start: Team Rubicon
Still doing incredible work - my favorite charity organization.

It was deep and the tsunami warning has since been canceled but still.
From the Alaska Earthquake Center:

LARGEST EARTHQUAKE IN 50 YEARS: WHAT WE KNOW SO FAR
At 10:15pm Alaska time on July 28, a magnitude 8.2 earthquake struck offshore of the Alaska Peninsula, the largest U.S. earthquake in 50 years. The Chignik Earthquake depth was approximately 28.5 miles, an intermediate-depth earthquake.

The Chignik Earthquake occurred relatively close (about 45 miles) to the location of the M7.6 Simeonof Island Earthquake that ruptured July 21, 2020. The Chignik Earthquake seems to be related to the earlier earthquake; both occurred along the interface between the subducting Pacific and overriding North America plates, although the Chignik Earthquake was the deeper of the two. The Alaska Peninsula is a seismically active region where thousands of earthquakes occur each year. The largest earthquakes are located along the interface, which is called the Aleutian megathrust. The M8.2 event ruptured this interface in the region between the Shumagin Islands to southwest and Kodiak Island to northeast. Previously, the 1938 M8.3 earthquake ruptured this section of the interface.

Perryville and Chignik are the nearest communities to the epicenter of the Chignik Earthquake, and felt the highest intensity shaking. There were also multiple felt reports from Alaska communities as far away as the Mat-Su Valley in Southcentral Alaska. So far, the aftershock rate has been active, so residents of the region may continue to feel shaking. The largest aftershock at the time of this article was a M6.1 about four minutes after the mainshock.

Because of the offshore location, the National Tsunami Warning Center issued a tsunami warning for much of coastal Alaska. Several communities issued evacuations. Recorded wave heights were under a foot, however, and the warning was downgraded a couple hours after the event.

Still waiting for the big one down here.  We live on a fairly young and active planet.

That zone is really active - USGS Earthquake map again:

20210709-quake.jpg

From the USGS Earthquake Map (zoomed in):

20210708-quake.jpg

Who knows - maybe it will fall off into the Pacific Ocean after all.

Started at 3:49 PM this afternoon with a 5.9 Mag only 9.83 km (5.7 miles) deep and it has been rattling the china every few minutes since then.  Glad that these are frequent - a lot of strain and it would have been major if everything had let go at once.

The Sacramento, CA CBS affiliate has the story with some videos:

5.9-Magnitude Earthquake Hits Near California-Nevada Border
The US Geological Survey reports that a 5.9-magnitude earthquake happened on the eastern side of the Sierra in California, 19 miles SSW of Smith Valley, Nevada.

There were also more than a dozen aftershocks ranging from 3.1 up to 4.2, which were near the towns of Walker, Markleeville, Dardanelle, and Coleville. They all happened just within minutes of each other.

5.9 is enough for some structural damage, stuff falling off shelves, some buckling of roads.
Keep waiting for the big one to hit here - overdue...

The Florida condo collapse

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Many people unaccounted for.  This story from USA Today really gives me the chills:

Collapsed Miami condo had been sinking into Earth as early as the 1990s, researchers say
A Florida high-rise that collapsed early Thursday was determined to be unstable a year ago, according to a researcher at Florida International University.

The building, which was constructed in 1981, has been sinking at an alarming rate since the 1990s, according to a study in 2020 by Shimon Wdowinski, a professor in the Department of Earth and Environment.

When Wdowinski saw the news that the Champlain Towers South condominium in Surfside collapsed, he instantly remembered it from the study, he said.

“I looked at it this morning and said, ‘Oh my god.’ We did detect that,” he said.

It will take a year or two for the engineering to be certain but this looks like a case of kicking the bureaucratic can down the road.  Nobody stood up and just said STOP.

A bit curious - earthquakes

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A bit of stress-relieving or leading up to something bigger?
Small (2.n Mag) but shallow - 1-3km depth getting deeper as they head South.
The site I get this from is here: USGS Magnitude 2.5+ Earthquakes, Past Day
It dynamically updates so these quakes will fall off the screen tomorrow.  Coincidence or harbinger?

20210618-quake.jpg

China nuke plant - update #7

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Commentary more than actual hard data but this is from someone who has lived in China:

China nuke plant - update #6

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Looks like problems with the fuel rods. From the New York Times:

China Denies Radiation Leak at Reactor but Admits Fuel Rod Damage
The Chinese government said on Wednesday that “about five” of the uranium fuel rods inside a nuclear power plant in southeastern China had been damaged, but added that no radiation had leaked out of reactors at the site.

Only "about five" - pants on fire. Who made the fuel rods?  Chinese I bet.
From Chinese news outlet: Xinhua

China says no abnormalities in radiation level around Taishan nuclear plant
No abnormalities or radiation leaks have been detected in the vicinity of the Taishan nuclear power plant in south China's Guangdong Province, the country's environment authorities said Wednesday.

The Ministry of Ecology and Environment (MEE) made the remarks in response to recent CNN reports on the situation concerning the plant, noting that its two French-designed nuclear power units have been operating in a safe and stable manner.

Then why all the fuss and bother? Why is this getting such publicity but so little actual data?

Time will tell.  Holding off on taking the iodine pills but dug them out of my prep stash and have them ready if needed.

China nuke plant - update #5

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A bit over the top in their reporting but...  From American Military News:

Chinese nuclear plant likely leaking near 126 million people; disaster possible; US investigating reports say
On Monday a French nuclear company, Framatome, announced it is supporting efforts to resolve a “performance issue” with its Taishan Nuclear Power Plant in China’s heavily populated Guangdong Province, raising concerns about a potential nuclear leak.

The nuclear plant is located in Guangdong, which according to Chinese census estimates for 2020, has an estimated population of about 126 million people. The plant is also located about 84 miles from Hong Kong.

CNN reported, citing U.S. officials and Department of Energy documents it reviewed, that the U.S. government has been assessing a reported leak at the nuclear plant for the last week. Those documents, obtained by CNN, warned of a potential “imminent radiological threat” at the power plant.

A letter sent from the French company to the Department of Energy (DOE) and obtained by CNN warned Chinese safety regulators were reportedly raising the acceptable limits for radiation detection in the area surrounding the power plant, in an effort to avoid having to shut the plant down.

Emphaisis mine - that is so reassuring and chilling at the same time.

Let's see:  we figure that the safe limit for human exposure to ionizing radiation is 10 units of X.  Whoops - we are seeing 12 units of X.  Let's just raise the safe limit to 20 units of X. No problem. No danger. Nothing to see here folks - just keep moving.

And it is not like China has a sterling record of nuclear power.

From Dr. Tony Philips at Spaceweather:

The Termination Event
Something big may be about to happen on the sun. “We call it the Termination Event,” says Scott McIntosh, a solar physicist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), “and it’s very, very close to happening.”

If you’ve never heard of the Termination Event, you’re not alone. Many researchers have never heard of it either. It’s a relatively new idea in solar physics championed by McIntosh and colleague Bob Leamon of the University of Maryland – Baltimore County. According to the two scientists, vast bands of magnetism are drifting across the surface of the sun. When oppositely-charged bands collide at the equator, they annihilate (or “terminate”). There’s no explosion; this is magnetism, not anti-matter. Nevertheless, the Termination Event is a big deal. It can kickstart the next solar cycle into a higher gear.

“If the Terminator Event happens soon, as we expect, new Solar Cycle 25 could have a magnitude that rivals the top few since record-keeping began,” says McIntosh.

More at the site - this might make things interesting for our weather.  Also good news for ham radio as increased solar activity makes for much better long-range communications. The more we learn, the more we realize that we don't know squat...

From Space Weather:

100 Years Later: The Great Geomagnetic Storm of May 1921
You know a solar storm is serious when buildings burst into flame. Sounds crazy? It really happened 100 years ago today.

On May 15, 1921, the biggest solar storm of the 20th century hit Earth. Around 02:00 GMT that Sunday morning a telegraph exchange in Sweden burst into flames. Across the Atlantic, the same thing was going on in New York. Flames engulfed the switch-board at the Brewster station of the Central New England Railroad and quickly spread to destroy the whole building. During the conflagration, long distance telephone lines burned out in New Brunswick; voltages on telegraph lines in the USA spiked as high as 1000 V; and auroras were sighted by ships at sea crossing the equator. It was a Big. Solar. Storm.

The outburst happened during the lazy tail end of Solar Cycle 15, an unremarkable cycle that was almost over in 1921. Sunspot numbers were low–but it only took one. Giant sunspot AR1842 appeared in mid-May and started flaring, hurling multiple coronal mass ejections (CMEs) toward Earth. In those days scientists had never heard of “CMEs,” so they were completely surprised when the clouds of plasma struck Earth. Around the world, magnetometers suddenly went offscale, pens in strip chart recorders pegged uselessly to the tops of their papers.

In response to the pummeling, Earth’s magnetic field swayed back and forth, rippling with energy. Fires were a direct result. Physics 101: When a magnetic field changes rapidly, electricity flows through conductors in the area. It’s called “magnetic induction.” Early 20th century telegraph lines suddenly found themselves buzzing with induced currents. In Sweden and New York, wires grew so hot they ignited telegraph papers and other combustibles.

As a quick heads up.  No.  This is NOT the Solar Storm of 1859 (otherwise known as the Carrington Event).  That was 62 years prior. We have had subsequent storms -  the Great Quebec Blackout of 1989. Power outages happen. What concerns me is that the energy from the solar flare will not only black out the power grid, it will also destroy unprotected electronics. This is why I keep a couple of ham radios in an EMP-proof box as well as some hard currency (can not use an ATM when the grid and net are down).

We are overdue.  We had a very near miss in 2012.  Had it happened nine days earlier (Earth in a different position relative to the Sun), it would have taken four to ten years to recover from the damages. Not a thing we can do to protect ourselves - cars with computers? Dead. Espresso machines with computers? Dead. (sob)

Our *Resident (not him really, he is gone. it's his handlers) talks about infrastructure.
Does anything?

Splat - thanks China

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Look up - from Space News:

Huge rocket looks set for uncontrolled reentry following Chinese space station launch
China launched the first module for its space station into orbit late Wednesday, but the mission launcher also reached orbit and is slowly and unpredictably heading back to Earth.

The Long March 5B, a variant of China’s largest rocket, successfully launched the 22.5-metric-ton Tianhe module from Wenchang Thursday local time. Tianhe separated from the core stage of the launcher after 492 seconds of flight, directly entering its planned initial orbit.

Designed specifically to launch space station modules into low Earth orbit, the Long March 5B uniquely uses a core stage and four side boosters to place its payload directly into low Earth orbit.

However this core stage is now also in orbit and is likely to make an uncontrolled reentry over the next days or week as growing interaction with the atmosphere drags it to Earth. If so, it will be one of the largest instances of uncontrolled reentry of a spacecraft and could potentially land on an inhabited area.

Emphasis mine - yeah - about that.  Usually, the agency launching the rocket makes sure that the stuff left over either falls in the ocean somewhere way out of shipping lanes or it comes back to Earth in a trajectory guaranteed to burn it up on re-entry. I guess the Chinese Communists haven't stolen that technology from Elon or NASA or the Ruskies. Yet. Class act there guys.

The last time the USA had something large deorbit uncontrolled, it was SkyLab back in July 11, 1979. 41+ years ago.

Object of desire

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Found a similar product on 'zon but not the style of mug I like:

20210402-science.jpg

The lava is ancient - from the Reykjavík Grapevine:

Lava From Geldingadalur Is The Most Primitive Iceland Has Seen In 7000 Years
Magnús Tumi Guðmundsson, professor of geophysics, has spoken about the results of the research done on the lava flowing from Geldingadalur and states that is it very exciting, Vísir reports.

The results of the studies conducted show that the lava that is emerging from the volcano is likely the most primitive lava the surface of Iceland has seen for over 7,000 years.

Something different going on - the magma is coming from much deeper in the Earth.

Woooooosh - 2001 FO32

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From EarthSky:

2001 FO32: Big asteroid sweeps closest this weekend
The biggest known asteroid to pass in 2021 will sweep by on March 21. Asteroid 2001 FO32 is estimated to be about .6 miles (1 km) in diameter, not quite as long as the Golden Gate Bridge, but comparable in length. Although there’s no risk of impact, the space rock is of interest also because it’s one of the fastest space rocks known to fly by Earth. It’s traveling at about 76,980 miles per hour (123,887 km/h) or 21 miles (34.4 km) per second, relative to Earth. In contrast, Earth travels around the sun at about 18 miles (30 km) per second. Since 2001 FO32 is good-sized and occasionally passes near Earth, it’s been classified as a Potentially Hazardous Asteroid. Its orbit is well known, though, and it poses no risk of impact now or for centuries to come. On the contrary, astronomers are excited about the asteroid, which, NASA has said will provide them with:

… a rare opportunity to get a good look at a rocky relic that formed at the dawn of our solar system.

On March 21, 2021, FO32’s closest approach to Earth will occur at 16:03 UTC; translate UTC to your time. At its closest, it’ll be about 1.25 million miles away (2 million km) – or 5.25 times the distance from Earth to the moon.

Not that long ago, we would have been clueless.  Fun time to be alive!

Fagradalsfjall - live stream UPDATE

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The new Icelandic volcano here - pretty spectacular. Can't seem to embed so visit the site and see for yourself.

UPDATE:
And it's on YouTube Live:

An Earth Shattering Ka-Boom

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The volcanic eruption in Iceland finally happened.  They have had a month of small quakes and signs of magma shifting around. From the English language Reykjavik Grapevine:

BREAKING: Eruption At Fagradalsfjall
The Icelandic Met Office has just reported that an eruption has begun at Fagradalsfjall, long expected to be the location of a possible volcanic eruption. This eruption is being called Geldingadalsgos, after Geldingardalur, the valley where the eruption is taking place.

The announcement states that the first announcements of an eruption came to the Met Office at 21:40 Icelandic time, and were later confirmed visually.

Scientists and the Grapevine are on the way to the location now for further reporting.

This activity is the culmination of earthquakes swarms that began in the area on February 24th, with scientists predicting an eruption may happen in the area on March 4th. Since then there have been daily briefings and concerted scientific monitoring of the situation.

As early as this morning, scientists were cautioning that the apparent quieting of earthquakes in recent days could be a prelude to an eruption.

Here is the URL for the Icelandic Met Office's website run through Google Translate - more as it happens. It's about 20 miles from Reykjavik - visible from town but no danger as it is an isolated valley.

Wishful thinking - Solar Cycle 25

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In the mail today was my paper copy of the amateur radio magazine QST. The cover article was touting Solar Cycle 25 as though it was going to be the next best thing since sliced bread.

20210316-sun.jpg

They are predicting a very active eleven years. For radio amateurs, this would be a very good thing as high solar activity means a very electrically active ionospheric layer and really really good long-distance radio propagation. Being able, not only to work other stations all around the world but being able to work them with very low power. Some hams like to specialize in low power operation - it is a lot of fun to get a signal through with the barest minimum of power.

Unfortunately, everything I have seen from other sources indicates a very quiet sun and a very low energy Cycle 25. This will be interesting as the sun is the primary driver of our climate and we have had periods of low solar output in the past - these can be measured by counting sunspots so the records go back thousands of years.

Few sunspots? Quiet sun. Cooler weather. Some of these minima have been so intense they were named: the Maunder Minimum, the Dalton, the Spörer, the Wolf, the Oort, etc... Not to mention the five major ice ages.

Looks like we are heading for another period of extended cold weather - computer models be damned (as well they should be). The River Thames in London froze over last month for the first time in 60 years. More people die during cold weather than during hot so this is what our political elite need to be looking at, not pop-Marxism.

Looks like there might be a new volcano happening there. The Reykjavik Grapevine has the news you need:

How to Pronounce Icelandic Volcano: Þráinsskjaldarhraun
If there is something you can rely on in Iceland, it’s that there will eventually be a volcano eruption somewhere—and the name of it will be impossible for the rest of the world to pronounce.

But we want to help, so welcome to Grapevine’s Science Lab where we will teach you to pronounce the words circulating around this possible eruption. Our guinea pig today is John Pearson, an experienced ex-BBC radio professional, who tries to get his English-speaking mouth around the news anchor’s worst nightmare.

Þráinsskjaldarhraun – Thrainn Shield Lava
Fagradalsfjall – Beautiful Valley Mountain
Sundhnjúkagígaröð – Channel Mountain Crater Series

There is a good video at the site so you can practice along with John.

8.1 Magnitude. Information at the USGS website.

No Tsunami is expected - it was pretty deep.

Interesting if correct - from the Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, U.K.

A Precolumbian Presence of Venetian Glass Trade Beads in Arctic Alaska
Abstract
Excavation at three Late Prehistoric Eskimo sites in arctic Alaska has revealed the presence of Venetian glass trade beads in radiocarbon-dated contexts that predate Columbus's discovery of the Western Hemisphere. The bead variety, commonly known as “Early Blue” and “Ichtucknee Plain,” has been confirmed by expert examination and comparative Instrumental Neutron Activation Analysis (INAA). The beads are present in sites throughout the Caribbean, the eastern coast of Central and North America, and the eastern Great Lakes region, where they are commonly found in sites dating between approximately AD 1550 and 1750, although a diminishing presence continues into the early 1800s. Beads of this variety have not previously been reported from Alaska. Ascribed to Venetian production by their precolumbian age, the beads challenge the currently accepted chronology for the development of their production methodology, availability, and presence in the Americas. In the absence of trans-Atlantic communication, the most likely route these beads traveled from Europe to northwestern Alaska is across Eurasia and over the Bering Strait. This is the first documented instance of the presence of indubitable European materials in prehistoric sites in the Western Hemisphere as the result of overland transport across the Eurasian continent.

Now this is going to stir up some history theories. From Venice through the Bering Strait?  Glass beads would be an excellent trade-good - durable, compact and not locally produced.

I love when stuff like this happens. Turned 70 a few months ago which means that Plate Tectonics was a brand new thing when I was in grade school. Part of the reason why I majored in Physical Oceanography and Marine Biology.  Dropped out but that is another story.

Revolutions in thinking keep our minds engaged. More, faster please...

A non-starter from the Washington, DC NBC affiliate:

Elevated Radiation Levels Detected in Neutron Reactor Containment Building at NIST in Maryland
Elevated radiation levels were detected in the containment building of the research neutron reactor at the National Institute of Standards and Technology in Gaithersburg, Maryland, during a restart of the reactor Wednesday morning, according to a spokeswoman.

Several trained radiation workers were exposed to elevated levels and were undergoing standard decontamination and evaluation, a spokeswoman said. Authorities say there is no threat to the public nor to workers on the NIST campus.

In other words, everything happened as it should happen.  The radiation was contained in the... er... Containment Building.  This is the building that was designed to contain any radiation in the event that some was to leak out somewhere. In other news, water is wet, the sun will not rise until around 8:00 AM tomorrow morning so it is dark out and I have finished dinner so my stomach is full.

Must be a slow news day for them. And, before you start going on about how ANY radiation exposure is so bad for you, explore the concept of Hormesis.  You can Google it.  It's a thing.

But of course - China deletes the truth

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Expect nothing less. From the London Daily Mail:

New cover-up fears as Chinese officials delete critical data about the Wuhan lab with details of 300 studies vanishing - including all those carried out by virologist dubbed Batwoman
The Chinese government is facing fresh accusations of a cover-up after officials deleted crucial online data about the laboratory suspected of being the source of Covid-19.

The Mail on Sunday can reveal that hundreds of pages of information relating to studies carried out by the top-secret Wuhan Institute of Virology have been wiped.

Details of more than 300 studies, including many investigating diseases that pass from animals to humans, published online by the state-run National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC) are no longer available.

The deletion of key evidence has reignited fears that China is trying to whitewash the investigation into the origins of the virus.

It comes after President Xi Jinping last week blocked investigators from the World Health Organisation entering the country in a move that drew international condemnation. Meanwhile, state media outlets have published hundreds of stories claiming that the virus did not even originate in the city of Wuhan.

As part of the NSFC’s purge of online studies, it has deleted all reference to those carried out by Shi Zhengli, the Wuhan-based virologist who has earned the nickname Batwoman for her trips to gather samples in bat caves.

The Daleks were just a bit ahead of their time - EXTERMINATE, EXTERMINATE, EXTERMINATE

If it does not fit the narrative, DELETE, DELETE, DELETE

I do hope that some brave soul somewhere has a thumb drive and is making plans to get it to WikiLeaks.

Gorgeous photo of the conjunction

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Missed it here yesterday but caught a glimpse this evening as I was driving home. No idea who took this photos but it is gorgeous - great idea and excellent execution:

20201222-conjunction.jpg

New developments in rocket science

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From America's Newspaper of Record - the Babylon Bee:

California To Require All Rockets To Run On Wind Power By 2030
California has announced a bold new initiative: all rockets produced or launched in the state must run on wind power just ten years from now.

Governor Newsom claimed the executive order was guided by SCIENCE and MATH.

"We are following the SCIENCE here!" Newsom said. "We are once again leading the nation with initiatives that other states are too stupid to enact. Those backward hillbillies in states like Texas and Florida say they are pro-business because they have primitive technology like electricity, gasoline, and cars, but really, they just want the world to burn."

Giggles could be heard behind the curtain at the press conference, causing many to suspect it was a practical joke. But Newsom managed to keep a straight face, saying, "With SCIENCE on our side, we can go where no man has gone before, fully powered by green energy like wind and solar."

Early wind rockets have been unsuccessful, as the first one just fell over and then blew into an angry neighbor's yard. Another one got stuck in a tree. But Newsom is confident the technology will be ready in a decade.

Newsom and the state legislature were then shocked as Elon Musk announced SpaceX would be moving to Texas. A spokesperson for Texas said the state is excited to have Musk and that "that rootin-tootin space cowboy can build any kind o' rocket he wants down here, shoot, I tell you what."

Makes perfect sense - because SCIENCE. Absolutely. And don't forget MATH

Just wow - Aricebo collapse

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It turns out that the observatory crew were flying a drone to inspect the cables at the moment they snapped. 
Scott Manley has the video - from his twitter account:

Scott also has an excellent YouTube channel - check it out.

2020: My work here is done

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The final straw. The great telescope at Arecibo collapsed last night - from Florida's Orlando Sentinel:

Massive UCF-managed Arecibo telescope collapses in Puerto Rico
Scientists and Puerto Ricans lamented on Tuesday morning the collapse of one of the most powerful telescopes on the Earth, managed by the University of Central Florida and owned by the U.S. National Science Foundation.

The 1,000-foot wide Arecibo Observatory radio telescope platform collapsed in Puerto Rico ending an era of space exploration, officials told the Associated Press. It was the second largest telescope on the planet.

Yes, the Chinese telescope is bigger but it can not transmit.  Arecibo was unique in that it can operate as a radar.  Perfect for looking for astroids that can potentially impact the Earth. A sad day for Science and proving once again that 2020 has been a horrible year.

We are made of star-stuff

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Fascinating to ponder - from the University of Bologna:

Does the human brain resemble the Universe?
An astrophysicist of the University of Bologna and a neurosurgeon of the University of Verona compared the network of neuronal cells in the human brain with the cosmic network of galaxies… and surprising similarities emerged.

In their paper published in Frontiers of Physics, Franco Vazza (astrophysicist at the University of Bologna) and Alberto Feletti (neurosurgeon at the University of Verona) investigated the similarities between two of the most challenging and complex systems in nature: the cosmic network of galaxies and the network of neuronal cells in the human brain.

Despite the substantial difference in scale between the two networks (more than 27 orders of magnitude), their quantitative analysis, which sits at the crossroads of cosmology and neurosurgery, suggests that diverse physical processes can build structures characterized by similar levels of complexity and self-organization.

The human brain functions thanks to its wide neuronal network that is deemed to contain approximately 69 billion neurons. On the other hand, the observable universe can count upon a cosmic web of at least 100 billion galaxies. Within both systems, only 30% of their masses are composed of galaxies and neurons. Within both systems, galaxies and neurons arrange themselves in long filaments or nodes between the filaments. Finally, within both system, 70% of the distribution of mass or energy is composed of components playing an apparently passive role: water in the brain and dark energy in the observable Universe.

Starting from the shared features of the two systems, researchers compared a simulation of the network of galaxies to sections of the cerebral cortex and the cerebellum. The goal was to observe how matter fluctuations scatter over such diverse scales.

"We calculated the spectral density of both systems. This is a technique often employed in cosmology for studying the spatial distribution of galaxies", explains Franco Vazza. "Our analysis showed that the distribution of the fluctuation within the cerebellum neuronal network on a scale from 1 micrometre to 0.1 millimetres follows the same progression of the distribution of matter in the cosmic web but, of course, on a larger scale that goes from 5 million to 500 million light-years".

God has zero problem with re-use.  If a design works, try it for something else.
The title of the post? Carl Sagan from 1973

I have no problem believing in God as well as believing in Science - the more we learn, the stranger this shit gets.

An interesting idea - Antifa

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Someone who visits some of the larger Democratic controled cities needs to pony up a couple hundred bucks and start working on this. Portland? Seattle? Lookin' at you. From Gun Free Zone:

Better misery through chemistry
I’ve been mulling over an idea.

Antifa has been spray painting on and posting online “spicy air, don’t care.”

Fine.

I have a background in Chemistry and a total lack of morals.

Allow me to introduce you to a family of chemicals called thiols, also known as mercaptans.

Same chemistry as makes the smell of rotten eggs and skunk spray. Thioacetone is listed as the world's smelliest chemical and Derek Lowe has a wonderful edition of his series "stuff I won’t work with" dedicated to trithioacetone

The post closes with this offering:

So if you are picking up what I am putting down, it’s time to do away with the pepper spray and CS gas.

Start hosing down Antifa with thioacetone.

Absolute, non-stop, uncontrollable crippling, wrenching and vomiting.

Thiols penetrate the skin (anyone who has been sprayed by a skunk knows what I’m talking about) so that smell will stick to them for days and weeks making their life unlivable.

Since the government has decided that Antifa isn’t yet ready to be shot with real bullets, but they’ve developed an immunity to pepper spray, it’s time to go with a bit rougher chemistry.

A fantastic idea - just checked and thioacetone is available with no restriction for under $200 for 25 grams.  Considering its potency, that is more than enough for several large-scale applications. Anyone have a drone they are not using?  The chemicals involved have very low toxicity as well - no poisoning or being overcome by fumes.  Just the smell.

I remember in high school, one of our organic chem labs involved butyric acid - relatively benign chemically but what a vomitous reek.  An oily acid too so it took about a week before I stopped stinking.  Nasal fatigue started in almost immediately so I did not know what was up at first. (And yes, I did get that person back - KMnO4 can leave very dark purple stains on the skin. Fun and epic story.)

Told 'ya - COVID

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It is politics and not public health. From James Delingpole writing at Breitbart:

Nobel Winner Michael Levitt Cancelled for Coronavirus Wrongthink
A Nobel Prize-winning chemist and Stanford professor has been cancelled for wrongthink on coronavirus.

Professor Michael Levitt, who won the Nobel prize for Chemistry in 2013, was due to be the keynote speaker in December at a virtual conference on his areas of special expertise – computational biology and biodesign.

But the First International Biodesign Research Conference withdrew his invitation – according to Levitt because they had received ‘too many calls’ from other speakers ‘threatening to quit’ because of his views on Chinese coronavirus. He has long maintained that the threat is overblown and that ‘we’re going to be fine.’

From Dr. Levitt's twitter account:

A New Dark Age indeed. Science and politics need to be divorced from each other.

From the Low Earth Orbit Tracking Lab twitter account:

Normally, these satellites would fire a rocket, de-orbit and splash down into the ocean but these two birds were built before that was a requirement. The objects are a Parus navigation satellite (Kosmos-2004), launched in 1989, and the Chang Zheng-4C Y4 third stage rocket launched in 2009. They are flying in opposed orbits  so the combined velocity is high.  Kessler syndrome anyone?

Duck...

NEJM is a high-end non-political Scientific Journal devoted to the topic of Medicine and Medical Research.  They are not a partisan organization. Well... Maybe... From The National Pulse:

REVEALED: Anti-Trump New England Journal Of Medicine Is Partnered With A Chinese Communist Publishing House
The medical journal had never involved itself in U.S. presidential elections before, but recently published an op-ed entitled, “Dying in a Leadership Vacuum,” which implored American voters to remove President Trump office.

The New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM), therefore, shares the same election preference as the Chinese Communist Party: a victory for Democratic Presidential candidate Joe Biden.

NEJM and the Chinese government, however, have considerably more in common.

CCP RUNNING DOGS
NEJM launched a Chinese publication, app, and website in late 2016.

NEJM also partnered with Shanghai Science and Technology Publishing House, a subsidiary of government-approved Shanghai Century Publishing Co.

Shanghai Science and Technology Publishing House boasts on its mission page how it belongs to “the first batch of “National Excellent Publishing Houses named” by the Chinese Communist Party’s Central Propaganda Department and has received a host of awards from the government.

Furthermore, the group describes itself as “under the guidance of the party and the government’s publishing policies.”

Much more at the site.  Science = 0%, Politics = 100% Not surprised.

Sad though. I remember when Scientific American was a relaly good publication - read it regularly growing up.  I used to work with Greenpeace (Seattle office) back when they were a science-based organization. They moved to politics and I quit. Politics and Science do not mix.  Just because you are brilliant in your field does not mean that you have good judgement in other arenas. Paging Messers Dunning and Kruger.  Dr. David Dunning and Dr. Justin Kruger please come to the white courtesy telephone please.

Our quiet sun - a full month

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From Spaceweather:

A MONTH WITHOUT SUNSPOTS
The sun has been without sunspots for 31 straight days--a full month. This interval has pushed the current Solar Minimum into historic territory. Since 2016, there have been 825 spotless days. To find a lull in the solar cycle with more spotless days, you have to go back to the years around 1913 when the sun racked up 1023 spotless days. We are now experiencing a century-class Solar Minimum.

Sunspots are an excellent proxy for solar activity and solar output. Fewer sunspots? A cooler sun. Global warming? More like another cooling period like the Maunder Minimum.

September 2021

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