Well…just wanted to do a short one on the end of an era for exploration of the Saturn system and for us as humans….tomorrow morning, the Cassini probe will dive into the clouds of Saturn on it’s last act in a decade long run of exploration and discovery….before Cassini, we really didn’t know anything about Saturn other than from the few fleeting pictures take by the flyby Explorer and Voyager probes…but Cassini opened our eyes to the wonder of this mini solar system…the complexity of the rings, the 62 moons and the possibility of life were all discovered by this wonderful piece of human imagination….and I will be a little sad that it is gone…one of the highlights of the past decade for me was the surprise of new findings and new jaw-dropping photos that were regularly delivered to our computers…one of my favorite photos was done by accident…when Cassini was taking a photo from under the rings and, by accident, a pale blue dot showed up and one of the scientists on the project recognized that it had captured the earth from a billion miles away….and the vastness of space was brought home to me….so, goodbye Cassini…..and thanks to the hundreds of scientists that worked for so long to make the mission a success….
Well…just wanted to note that I am going to lose my internet this afternoon so the second post of the day may be a little late….or I could do it now…okay…I’ll do it now….I don’t think I’ve ever seen 4 hurricanes at a time in the Atlantic and Gulf in my lifetime…and one like Irma…with the water in the Caribbean being warmer than ever on record, there is just so much fuel for these hurricanes that this is what the scientists have been saying was going to happen…that extreme weather is going to become more and more prevalent…and with the two other hurricanes following nearly the same track as Irma, we may see three category 5 hurricanes hitting the US in the span of two weeks…something that has never happened before…I just have this to say to the climate science deniers out there…you are idiots and there are consequences to your idiocy and denial…and it’s name is Harvey…and Irma….and Jose….and Katia….and the next one…geez….
Well…you’ve seen me talk about the effect that climate change is having on severe weather events here in the US but I have never seen what is happening in the southwest of the country right now. This afternoon, there will be no flights into or out of the southwest due to the record breaking heat that is predicted…from Phoenix to Las Vegas the temps are supposed to be from 120 to 126 degrees which is above the temperature ceiling of all aircraft that fly today. Yep, it is so hot that the entire southwest will be on lockdown this afternoon and the disruption to lives there will be severe….I’ve talked before about the need to not confuse weather with climate, but this extreme weather is driven by the warming climate just as the melting of the Antarctic glaciers is driven by it…and the rivers that are flowing off the glaciers have never been seen in the 100 years that observations have been taken there….so, the next time you hear a climate denier talk just shut them down with these two little facts…I’m an old guy and I’ve never seen a day when it was too hot for planes to fly…but tomorrow starts the summer and I’ll bet it won’t be the last time…..
Well….have been getting a lot of stuff done around here and just finished so I thought I’d talk about some cool science news I’ve read about recently…yeah, I’m letting myself read only science news…and some sports but nothing else still…and that is going to last for the next 4 years. The LIGO detector picked up more gravity waves a few weeks back, confirming that the detector is now sensitive enough to do that regularly….and they are going to upgrade it again the first part of next year. There is a new drug that has been discovered that rids the brain of the plaques that are thought to cause Alzheimer’s disease…which would be good news but there wasn’t any resulting improvement in cognition which has everyone pretty confused since most of the research has been focused on the plaques as the cause…now they may have to go down a new path and start over…not good news….oh, one last thing….researchers in England have discovered a way to mass produce carbon nanotubes that may open up many new ways to use them….this one is 4994….getting to 5,000…
Well…really haven’t come up with a topic that would take a whole one of these so I guess I’ll just think for awhile and see what I come up with….it is pretty cool to see Keith Olbermann back doing his rants on the internet…they finally got the links sorted out and now I can see him every morning a little after 8…just what this campaign was missing…there is going to be some cool new science released this afternoon with the first data from the GAIA probe that has a 2 billion megapixel camera on it that is has been working for a few years now to make a map of the Milky Way…a 3d map that will be able to really show where we are in the cosmos….it’s goal is to map about a billion stars over the next few years and that should be really cool to see…We have the second lowest reported minimum of arctic sea ice in the history of records and the deniers are out in force saying “see…the ice is growing, not shrinking”…and that is worthy of a headslap when the trends are easy to see on the graphs…in a few years there won’t be any ice in the summer and it is due to climate change you morons….okay…that’s enough for now…I may come back for another one later if I can work up the outrage….
Well…if you’ve been looking at the news over the past week or so, you’d have seen that a SpaceX rocket blew up during fueling and the cause has not really been determined yet. Now, with the internet and lots of people with time on their hands, we have the explanation…it was aliens! A video that shows an object passing just over the top of the rocket when it explodes has been posted…and I just watched it in my Twitter feed….not sure if I would say aliens but it gave me a great laugh….wonder what the next theory will be?
Well…for the second day in a row, I am not going to write anything about the idiot Trump…and I feel better for it. There was a little excitement in the science community the other day about a signal that a Russian telescope picked up back in 2015 that might be from extraterrestrials…..yeah, I know, the WOW signal was thought to be one, too, a few years back and nothing came from it….but some of the scientists that saw the data have recommended that we monitor the star that the signal came from constantly so we don’t miss another one if there is one…that would be pretty cool if it was a real signal…and in my lifetime…and the star is only 95 light years away in our galaxy…but that means any signal would have left there 95 years ago and any signal from here takes 95 years to get back there…but, the bubble of our radio noise is already out almost that far so maybe they can pick up some of our early radio shows from the 30′s…who knows? Okay…now that was something interesting to write about…politics is burning me out….
Well…as you know if you’ve been here for any length of time, I am a science geek and just love it when I can talk about new scientific discoveries and this week we have another one….on the 4th of July, a new spacecraft named Juno entered into orbit around Jupiter to do a two year scientific mission…and one of the cool things is that, after an adjusting burn, the thing is going to skim the cloud tops, at times only 50 miles above them which should give us just some of the coolest images ever…..can’t wait to see close ups of the great red spot and I am excited about the other things that will be discovered…..I’m hoping that Juno will get to the end of it’s two year mission…and that is not certain given the radiation environment it will be working in….whatever happens…it’s going to be cool…
Well…sitting here waiting for the Fedex guy to come and thought I’d do a little comment on an article I read this morning by Phil Plait over at Bad Astronomy. There was a little noticed announcement last week by Elon Musk and Space X that they are going to try to land one of their Dragon V2 capsules on Mars by 2018…yep…when everyone else says they can’t get there until 2025 at the earliest, Space X is going to try it in two years…unmanned, of course, since the Falcon Heavy that they are going to use to launch it has not been tested yet and the Dragon V2 has not been flown either…but, I find it just so cool that private industry is going to do what NASA can’t…and beat them to Mars by 7 years. I know there have been many successful Mars probes sent by NASA and I applaud their work…work that continues to amaze me…but, to fly the hardware that is going to be used to send people to Mars in that short a time frame goes up the scale to really cool. Oh, and one more thing with the Falcon Heavy, which is essentially three Falcon 9′s strapped together….when they test launch the Heavy later in the year, Space X is going to try to land all three boosters; two on land and one on the autonomous barge where they landed the last Falcon 9….that is going to be so cool and I had hoped they would try something like that…Space X is putting excitement back into space and even this old guy is pretty geeked….
Well…just finished watching the live launch of another Falcon 9 by Space X and I never get tired of seeing them…but this time, they finally landed the first stage on the barge in the ocean off the coast of Florida and it was one of the coolest things I’ve seen in a while…it’s only been a few years that they have even been in business and they are doing things that the others in the space business said couldn’t be done….Well done Space X…..