Tuesday, November 27, 2018

The Road to Hell ...

BRT has waxed poetic about Global Warming and the ramifications of same beginning with James Lovelock's dire warning regarding GW in 2007 to 2018 with this latest piece from Aeon describing the anthropogenic version of a new Cretaceous with horrifying consequences that will end civilization as we know it by 2100 if nothing is done.

Last November, the COP23 UN Climate Change Conference in Bonn reported that warming by 3°C by 2100 is now the realistic expectation. With no check on emissions, we are on course to see preindustrial levels of CO2 double (from 280 to 560 ppm, or parts per million) by 2050 – and then double again by 2100. In short, we’ll be generating climate conditions last experienced during the Cretaceous period (145-65.95 million years ago) when CO2 levels reached over 1,000 ppm. What might that mean, given that we already achieve such levels of CO2 in bedrooms at night and in poorly ventilated crowded places, and when we know that, under sustained conditions of such high carbon-dioxide concentration, people suffer severe cognitive problems?

It gets "better".

We have recently become aware of a red line that humans are going to hit long before we approach Cretaceous conditions. In 2010, researchers showed that our species cannot survive for more than six hours at what’s called a ‘wet bulb’ temperature of 35°C (95°F). Wet bulb here means 100 per cent humidity, so it’s not 35°C as we know it. But in the great Indian agricultural belts of the Indus and Ganges, high-40s temperatures combined with 50 per cent humidity (which equates to that wet-bulb temperature of 35°C ) are going to prevail within decades.

While this is happening in hot agricultural regions, the urban world will face a perhaps even greater catastrophe. The UN’s most-likely temperature-rise prediction of 3°C would see forests growing in the Arctic, and entail the loss of most coastal cities through irreversible sea-level rise by the end of the century.

30 years ago we could have stopped this slow motion disaster but did not. To whit ...

Is it a comfort or a curse, the knowledge that we could have avoided all this?

Because in the decade that ran from 1979 to 1989, we had an excellent opportunity to solve the climate crisis. The world’s major powers came within several signatures of endorsing a binding, global framework to reduce carbon emissions — far closer than we’ve come since. During those years, the conditions for success could not have been more favorable. The obstacles we blame for our current inaction had yet to emerge. Almost nothing stood in our way — nothing except ourselves.

The Road to Hell ... indeed.

Thanks John for turning me onto this.

Friday, November 23, 2018

The Russians did it :)

Blowback ...

Blowback, the law of unforeseen consequences, a term coined by the CIA regarding all things regarding our ill advised military adventures, is more than just apt when talking about palm oil and the impact it's having on the environment and global warming, the two 900 lb gorillas residing in places near and dear to us rubes as we move further into the 21st century.

Most of the plantations around us were new, their rise a direct consequence of policy decisions made half a world away. In the mid-2000s, Western nations, led by the United States, began drafting environmental laws that encouraged the use of vegetable oil in fuels — an ambitious move to reduce carbon dioxide and curb global warming. But these laws were drawn up based on an incomplete accounting of the true environmental costs. Despite warnings that the policies could have the opposite of their intended effect, they were implemented anyway, producing what now appears to be a calamity with global consequences.

Blowback indeed ...

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Earth, up close & personal :)

Rain of a different kind ...

An artist's depiction of the Cassini spacecraft's view as it completed the "Grand Finale" of its mission in 2017. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Cassini never disappoints, this time regarding the intricate connect of Saturn with its rings.

They had expected those results to be measurements of the masses of "ring rain," which scientists knew as a trickle of tiny particles falling from Saturn's innermost ring down toward the planet's upper atmosphere — some hydrogen and helium mostly — nothing fancy.

But what they seem to have found was far more material than they had expected, coming from far more exotic compounds. The instrument spotted not just hydrogen and helium but also carbon monoxide, methane, nitrogen and the unidentifiable remains of organic molecules.

Other instruments suggested that this downpour also included water ice and silicate particles and showed that the downpour is triggered by the interaction of these particles with the highest levels of Saturn's atmosphere. Around the whole ring structure, it all adds up to somewhere around 10 tons (9,000 kilograms) per second.

Science never disappoints, ever. :)

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Sunday, November 18, 2018


Trip 2 starts from Grand Central and goes to NAB East @ the Jacob Javits Center before walking on the High Line - Elevated NYC Park-Rail Trail, an architectural feast of buildings illuminated to the max as day turns into night in the city that never sleeps. Enjoy.


Starting from Grand Central, this walk goes to the Jacob Javits Center and down toward the West Village before returning to GC. Needless to say, NYC's architecture, noise and all things related to the comings and goings of the city that never sleeps, is most interesting to see without question. Enjoy.

Monday, November 12, 2018

Pangea finally realized

Pangea, the long lost supercontinent, is now nearly complete, thanks to GOCE's innovative research showing this to be true.

These features include dense rocky zones called cratons – remnants of ancient continents found at the heart of modern continental plates – highly folded ‘orogen’ regions associated with mountain ranges and the thinner crust of ocean beds.

The new window into the deep subsurface offered by this data offers novel insights into the structure of all Earth’s continents, but especially Antarctica. With more than 98% of its surface covered by ice with an average thickness of 2 km, the southern continent largely remains a blank spot on current geological maps.

It gets better

“These gravity images are revolutionising our ability to study the least understood continent on Earth, Antarctica,” says co-author Fausto Ferraccioli, Science Leader of Geology and Geophysics at BAS.

“In East Antarctica we see an exciting mosaic of geological features that reveal fundamental similarities and differences between the crust beneath Antarctica and other continents it was joined to until 160 million years ago.”

The gravity gradient findings show West Antarctica has a thinner crust and lithosphere compared to that of East Antarctica, which is made up of a mosaic of old cratons separated by younger orogens, revealing a family likeness to Australia and India.

These findings are of more than purely historic geological interest. They give clues to how Antarctica’s continental structure is influencing the behavior of ice sheets and how rapidly Antarctica regions will rebound in response to melting ice.

Pangea breaking apart

"Ain't science grand? :)

Friday, November 09, 2018

Insanity is ...

For What's it's Worth comes to mind here in a powerful film with Chris Hedges as commentator and critic of unbridled capitalism and what it means to America and to the world. Take the time to watch this to become aware and learn why George Carlin was right. The real owners of the country don't want people capable of critical thinking because if we were, this kind of inequality and slow motion move toward totalitarianism would not happen.

Zackem: Chris’s closing line, “You can’t talk about hope until you can see reality and reality is pretty bleak, but that’s the starting point.”  That line has really stayed with me. We need to bring truth, honesty and compassion back into our national dialogue, and move past the attacks and distortion of the truth, to reach a place where hard concepts and real truth exists so we can actually accomplish positive change.

The Thinker - August Rodin

8K ... in space :)

Pretty cool without question. Seeing the goings on in the ISS depicts routines both complex and simple, something all together different from the sci fi movie of yesterday and today. :)

Astronauts aboard the ISS have had access to all manner of cameras as technology has advanced over the years. They’ve gone from 1080p HD, to 360-degree cameras, to 4K. Now, NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) have shipped a new Helium 8K camera by RED to the ISS. 8K video has about eight times as many pixels as full HD with a resolution of 8,192 x 4,320. The camera actually arrived in April aboard a SpaceX Dragon capsule, but the agency only now got around to producing a video with it.

The video follows astronauts going about their daily grind, floating around and doing science. There are also some awesome shots of Earth from the station, as well as the station’s exterior. NASA was so kind as to provide a description on YouTube of what we’re seeing in the footage, too. Early on, we see the Minus Eighty-Degree Laboratory Freezer for ISS (MELFI), which maintains extremely low temperatures for experiments. The frosty air rolling off the surface looks almost surreal in 8K. There’s also some footage (around 21 and 57 seconds) of the Advanced Plant Habitat (APH) and Plant Habitat-1, which help scientists understand how plants grow in space.

Not bad, not bad at all. :)

Monday, November 05, 2018


When looking at  the M1 Abrams Tank, one thinks all is well with the US Military but in looking at the real picture, a disquieting picture emerges, thanks to disastrous economic policies that has compromised to the max, the manufacturing base of a once great nation called America.

As per the report, fragility is part of the problem, caused by the economic policy that encouraged companies to offshore manufacturing in order to maximize profit has gutted GE and significant others in ways that stagger the imagination. 

Click here for the report. Disquieting indeed.

Thursday, November 01, 2018

Sol, the heat engine

Sol, the heat engine that powers life, has been an obsession of man since the beginning of time as seen by an exhibit in London titled, Living with our star.

To whit.

As winter approaches here in the UK, the dark and dreary days are a reminder of how important the Sun is to our daily lives. Fortunately, there is a bright spot at the Science Museum in London, which has just launched an exhibition called The Sun: Living With Our Star. The exhibition runs until 6 May 2019 and is a treasure trove of objects that document humanity’s fascination with the Sun through the ages.

The oldest object I spotted in the exhibition was a Babylonian cuneiform from about 750 BC that refers to sunspots – possibly observed by looking at the Sun through fog or clouds. Sunspots were not a good omen to Babylonian astronomers, who interpreted them as a sign of famine. What is clear from the exhibition is that people have obsessed over sunspots for millennia. 

Physical history: The history of solar science includes a 750 BC Babylonian record of sunspots (above) (Courtesy: Jody Kingzett, courtesy of the Science Museum Group), as well as Norman Lockyer’s helium-discovering set of prisms (below). (Courtesy: Science Museum Group Collection)

Hommage to Kepler

Kepler changed how we view the universe as there are exoplanets, lots and lots of them thanks to Kepler, the space telescope that made it happen.

After nine years in deep space collecting data that indicate our sky to be filled with billions of hidden planets – more planets even than stars – NASA’s Kepler space telescope has run out of fuel needed for further science operations. NASA has decided to retire the spacecraft within its current, safe orbit, away from Earth. Kepler leaves a legacy of more than 2,600 planet discoveries from outside our solar system, many of which could be promising places for life.

"As NASA's first planet-hunting mission, Kepler has wildly exceeded all our expectations and paved the way for our exploration and search for life in the solar system and beyond," said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington. "Not only did it show us how many planets could be out there, it sparked an entirely new and robust field of research that has taken the science community by storm. Its discoveries have shed a new light on our place in the universe, and illuminated the tantalizing mysteries and possibilities among the stars.” 

Like Cassini, Kepler will be missed big time. RIP.