Category Archives: Science

Look up tonight…

Well…on a lighter note, there is a possibility of a meteor shower tonight as the Earth passes through the remnants of a comet that has been breaking up for a few years now…it looks about 50/50 if we’ll see anything but what is the cost of walking out the door and looking up when it’s dark? On the optimistic side, some scientists are saying we could see 1,000 meteors an hour from this comet but others have some formula that hinges on the speed of the fragments as they move away from the main body of the comet and if they are moving more than 234 MPH away from it, we may see a show…so, I’m going to take a look anyway…it’s supposed to peak in the early am on Tuesday but I won’t be up that late…maybe til 11 or so but that will be it…oh, and yes, I am still sitting on my porch couch writing this and smelling all the people cooking out…and it’s making me hungry even after just eating lunch…probably should clean now…I wonder if I should play some vinyl while I work?

Go out and look up tonight…

Well…almost forgot to talk about this one in the earlier post…if you are still up and in the US,¬† go out tonight and look up…there is a total eclipse of the moon tonight that will be total by about midnight..and it is a blood moon which means it will be even redder than it normally is during an eclipse…and it will start around 10:30 or so with the Earth’s shadow moving slowly across the moon….let’s keep our fingers crossed for clear weather….going to take the binoculars out and give it a look…..

Bird flu…

Well…damn, just when I finally get birds coming to my feeder, the experts are saying to take it down and not to feed the birds until summer because of the bird flu that is starting to kill birds all over the US…and yet, they say that songbirds are not really affected by it right now…and the thing that I don’t understand is why feeders? The grackles out here travel in huge flocks and feed right next to each other and there are never more than two birds on my feeders at a time so the chance of spreading the virus from bird to bird is quite small….so I guess I have to make a decision here in a while…do I fill it or take it down? Have to think about that one…..

Back to the mask….

Well…darn, just when you think you’re out, they pull you back in…that line from “Godfather 3″ really describes this pandemic and the new variants that continue to evolve and explode across the world….over the past few days, China has basically locked down over 100 million people in 4 cities across the country and the trend is that South Korea and other Asian countries are going to have to do the same…and that all but guarantees that the recession that has been looming on the horizon is going to happen when all of the computer chips manufacturing from the affected areas in China just stop…as they have just yesterday….and one of the biggest contributors to this explosion of virus in China is that the Sinovac vaccine is not really effective against Omicron2 and they have not been getting boosters into arms there…there is even a huge spike in cases in Europe where they have lifted all covid restrictions just like here in the US and you can see where that is leading us…another “wave” just like the original Omicron and another quarter of a million deaths that I am not going to be one of…so, back to masks for whenever I go out around people starting tomorrow…I do have 26 N-95′s that I haven’t started to use yet and will probably hold off on until it gets bad around here….and I will get the 4th shot as soon as it is available to boost protection against getting sick…and my second set of free covid tests are supposed to arrive today so I can know what is going on if I do get sick….and then I can protect people around me by using the n-95′s or just staying home….here we go again….

This is dire and we need to do our part…

Well…do you remember when delta hit and every health care system in the country was overwhelmed? Omicron is worse with warnings going out from almost every system in the country that they are on the verge of collapse with how contagious omicron is…I saw a graphic the other day that even with an N95 mask within 15 minutes in an enclosed space with omicron infected people, you will become infected…and throw in all of the unvaccinated assholes out there that won’t wear masks, and it is even worse…I read just today that every damn unvaccinated person in the country is going to catch omicron by the end of the month and spread it to we who have done the right thing and got vaccinated and boosted…and all of the blather that omicron is less severe than delta doesn’t matter…with how many people who will be infected…many, many more than with delta, hospitals are overwhelmed and people who have symptoms will be turned away to die at home….this is pretty damn dire and we need to do our part…wear a mask, only go out if you have to, stay away from people for the next few weeks…I will go out for groceries once and get enough for me to not go out again until the end of the month…and I will double mask and stay away from people in the store…and hunker down here and not go anywhere for a while….damn, I feel like the walking dead is happening right now….and I want to avoid the zombies….geez…

Good news on the JWST…

Well…around christmas, the James Webb Space Telescope, which I will call the JWST from now on, was launched towards it’s L2 station point and most of us science geeks were elated and concerned at the same time since there were over 300 things that needed to work perfectly for it to be usable…there were a couple of pieces of good news on the scope yesterday that I wanted to talk about here…first, the launch was so accurate that they had to burn very little thruster fuel to make course¬† corrections and that means instead of having enough fuel for 5 years, the operators of the scope think they will have enough for 10-12 years and that is really good news since there is no way to refuel it with it being so far away…and second, the tennis court sized sunscreen successfully deployed yesterday and it is locked in place with no problems so we’re halfway there in getting it ready to start observations in a couple of months…still going to keep my fingers crossed that nothing goes wrong and I just can’t wait for “first light” and the science that can be done with it…

Some good news on energy…

Well…as prices for wind and solar power continue to fall, their use continues to rise to be the second most used source of energy in the US. Last year, renewables including geothermal and biomass made up 22% of the energy used and it is predicted that these sources will grow by another 10% next year…and that is good news for the planet as coal use continues to fall…and for some reason, private equity is even getting involved in new ideas in fusion generation of electricity…and that has been a government investment to this point so why private investment now? In my lifetime, fusion has always been “10 years away” and never closer and I’m not sure why individuals would invest the billions necessary build a fusion plant that is no closer being viable that it was in the 90′s…haven’t read of any breakthroughs lately and if there were, people would be shouting it from the rooftops and all I hear is silence. So, let’s take this one with a huge grain of salt…after all, not one fusion plant has ever produced as much energy as has been put in to get the reaction going….but I would love to be proved wrong…

I’m a little nervous…

Well…any of you who have been here before know me to be a science geek who still watches every rocket launch that is televised and reads a lot about things happening in science…and tomorrow, something really cool is happening at 7:24 in the morning…the James Webb space telescope is going to be launched from French Guyana and I’m a little nervous about that….The Arianne V rocket that is going to launch it has a great reliability record so getting it to space probably won’t be the problem…but there are over 300 discrete actions that have to happen to get it ready for observing and if any one doesn’t go right, we will have a 12 billion dollar lump of coal in our stockings. Since the mirror and sun shield are too big to fit on even the biggest rockets, they had to be folded into a much smaller package…and then it has to unfold itself once in space and on the way to the L2 Lagrange point a million miles away…and they are using that point since it is the point where the Earth and the sun’s gravity balance out and it takes a lot less fuel to keep in place…but that takes it so far away that if it doesn’t go right, there is no way to service it…I do have faith that NASA can make it work…I am a little nervous….

Omicron sucks…

Well…couldn’t find a political topic for today so I thought I’d talk about the latest covid variant, Omicron, and what is known about it now…the latest testing shows that 70-90% of new cases are no longer delta but omicron and shows how fast this new one spreads and that is a little scary….but, it appears that it multiplies in the airways of the nose and doesn’t shred the lungs like delta does…at least that’s what it looks like so far…but, there are almost 140 million cases predicted in the US between Jan 1 and March 1 2022….and that means that 60% of the US will have been infected with some form of covid…and the scary part is that 90% of those with omicron may not even know it and will spread it even farther and faster….one tiny little ray of light is that it appears that the hospitalization rate from omicron is 90 to 96% less than delta and the fatality rate is 97 to 99% lower…but the sheer volume of infections will still overwhelm most hospital systems in the first three months of next year….those of us that have gotten our booster shots have a really good chance of staying out of the hospital and then not having the long covid that is ravaging many in this country…it looks like my choice to stay away from my grandchildren was the right one…even though my kids are still pissed at me and aren’t talking to me anymore because I haven’t visited…oh, well….

Topics are getting harder to find…

Well….I wonder why I am having such problems finding topics these days? I know I’ve done almost 10,000 of these but there are still things happening in the world that interest me….and I still read a lot so that can’t be it….I haven’t done one on science in a long time and I wonder why that is? There are cool things happening with the James Webb space telescope getting ready for launch in December….and that instrument will resolve 10 times fainter objects that even Hubble and it isn’t even going to be in orbit around the Earth…it is going to be set at one of the Lagrange points a million miles from Earth in a stable orbit that will trail the Earth in it’s orbit…it has a mirror that is 6 times larger than Hubble and will see in infrared light that will allow us to see through the dust and gas towards the center of the galaxy and may even be able to see the black hole that is there and that would be pretty cool…and it will happen in my lifetime but it may be the last cool telescope that is launched before I’m gone….hey, I found a topic! Okay, it’s cheating a little bit but I need to get on the windows in here and get these two done…I did get the kitchen one done already and I got two bike rides in so I guess I could put these off…nope, going to do at least one before soccer comes on….