Sunday–25Nov18

Another rainy Sunday……my garden is close to finished…..seeding will begin Monday and then the wait until the harvest…..

This weekend the internet in my area is a slow mess…..how’s yours?

I have been watching the developments along the formation of the US Space Force( or whatever name they finally decide is proper)…..so because I have been watching this I also feel I need to keep an eye on the findings in space……who knows what our troops may face in the future…..

We may stretch our wings and go to the stars, as they say……

Barnard’s Star, a red dwarf star located in a solar system about six light-years away from Earth, may have some company. Researchers of the “exoplanet-hunting” group Red Dots have detected a planet—some 3.2 times the Earth’s mass and very cold—orbiting the star, Smithsonian reports. Their findings were published in Nature on Wednesday. “We firmly believe the object is there,” says lead researcher Ignasi Ribas. “We always have to remain a bit cautious … but we were sure enough that we were willing to go forward with publication.” The planet, Barnard’s Star b, is the second-closest exoplanet (a planet outside of our solar system) to Earth, per USA Today.

Researchers looked at two decades worth of data from seven different telescopes to pick up the planet, according to Forbes. As for the possibility of life on Bernard’s Star b, the planet is “way too cold” to sustain liquid water, Ribas says, and whether life may be frozen beneath an ocean is just speculation at this point. During the course of their study, Smithsonian notes, researchers found faint evidence of another planet, which would be Barnard’s Star c. Several decades ago, scientists believed that they had detected planets around the star. However, those ended up being the result of an instrument problem. (Last year, scientists found the smallest possible star.)

Just as the earth orbits its star, the Sun……but what if there was no sun to orbit?

Debate has raged in astronomical circles for years as to whether rogue planets could exist. Since they do not have a star to illuminate them, they are extremely difficult to find as they are almost always in the dark. However, a technique called gravitational microlensing allowed researchers to identify rogue planets by seeing when a planet comes between a distant star and the Earth. When this happens, the planet acts like a lens, distorting the light that we can see from that star when it reaches Earth. This indicates that a massive body like a planet is passing in front of the star, and the size of the body can be estimated from the size of the distortion.

https://www.digitaltrends.com/cool-tech/rogue-planets-discovered/

If and when we get our new Space Force one of the probable sites for a base is Mars….and we are still learning all we can about the planet…..

Between 3.5 billion and 3.9 billion years ago, when simple life forms were emerging on Earth, a river flowed through a delta system into a lake on Mars, then a warm and wet planet. NASA plans to send a rover there to see if any traces of life remain. The Jezero Crater site has been selected as the destination of the 2020 Mars rover mission, and scientists say that if life ever existed on the red planet, the crater is one of the places likeliest to hold evidence of it. “A delta is extremely good at preserving bio-signatures—any evidence of life that might have existed in the lake water … or possibly things that lived in the headwaters region that were swept in by the river and deposited in the delta,” project scientist Ken Farley tells the BBC.

The crater was chosen after a search that looked at around 60 sites, CNN reports. Farley says researchers have wanted to know more about the site for years, but it was once thought impossible to land a rover in the rugged terrain. “What was once out of reach is now conceivable, thanks to the 2020 engineering team and advances in Mars entry, descent, and landing technologies,” he says. Another rover, meanwhile, is preparing to land on Mars next week, NBC News reports. The InSight lander is due to land on the Monday after Thanksgiving to begin its mission to study the crust, mantle, and core of Mars, but it will have to survive a complicated landing NASA scientists call “seven minutes of terror” first, Forbes reports. (The Curiosity Rover has found the “building blocks of life” on Mars.)

More Mars news……

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/nasa-mars-insight-landing-explained-when-where-space-agency-latest-a8648986.html

Once we get our troops in training will they do what recruits use to do in the “old days” police the area?  The area in this case is the space around the earth…….

As an international relations scholar who studies space law and policy, I have come to realize what most people do not fully appreciate: Dealing with space debris is as much a national security issue as it is a technical one.

Considering the debris circling the Earth as just an obstacle in the path of human missions is naive. As outer space activities are deeply rooted in the geopolitics down on Earth, the hidden challenge posed by the debris is the militarization of space technologies meant to clean it up.

https://www.realcleardefense.com/articles/2018/11/14/why_space_debris_cleanup_is_a_national_security_threat_113954.html

Some things never change for the grunt…whether earth bound or space cadet……matters not.

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Space….The Good News And The Bad

Hope your Sunday is as relaxing as mine…..

We have a Space Force on the drawing boards as another military branch….first Obama and now Trump are considering the possibility……so we need to keep an eye on what is happening with our space programs……

First the Good News…….the Parker Solar Probe…..

NASA’s Parker Solar Probe is now closer to the sun than any spacecraft has ever gotten. Parker on Monday surpassed the record of 26.6 million miles set by Helios 2 back in 1976, the AP reports—and it will keep getting closer to the sun until it flies through the corona, or outer atmosphere, for the first time next week, passing within 15 million miles of the solar surface. Parker will make 24 close approaches to the sun over the next seven years, ultimately coming within just 3.8 million miles. “We’ve now come closer to our star than any other spacecraft in history,” Andy Driesman, the project manager for the probe, said in a statement, per Gizmodo. “It’s a proud moment for the team.”

Motherboard notes that the probe is protected by a Thermal Protection System (TPS) heat shield, which has been tested to endure temps up to 3,000 degrees Fahrenheit. It’s also designed to keep the probe’s instruments safe from radiation and to help the probe make an easier transition when it heads back to the relative chilliness of deep space. Launched in August, Parker was on track to set another record late Monday night, about to surpass Helios 2’s speed record of 153,454 miles per hour, relative to the sun. (Is your name flying close to the sun with Parker?)

And now the bad…..the Kepler Telescope has given scientist so much to think about has possibly died…..

NASA’s elite planet-hunting spacecraft has been declared dead, just a few months shy of its 10th anniversary. Officials announced the Kepler Space Telescope’s demise Tuesday, the AP reports. Already well past its expected lifetime, the 9 1/2-year-old Kepler had been running low on fuel for months. Its ability to point at distant stars and identify possible alien worlds worsened dramatically at the beginning of October, but flight controllers still managed to retrieve its latest observations. The telescope has now gone silent, its fuel tank empty. Kepler discovered 2,681 planets outside our solar system and even more potential candidates. It showed us rocky worlds the size of Earth that, like Earth, might harbor life. It also unveiled incredible super Earths: planets bigger than Earth but smaller than Neptune.

Kepler opened the gate for mankind’s exploration of the cosmos,” said retired NASA scientist William Borucki, who led the original Kepler science team. Adds NASA’s astrophysics director Paul Hertz, “It has revolutionized our understanding of our place in the cosmos. Now we know because of the Kepler Space Telescope and its science mission that planets are more common than stars in our galaxy.” Kepler focused on stars thousands of light-years away; a successor to Kepler launched in April, NASA’s Tess spacecraft, has its sights on stars closer to home and has already identified some possible planets. Now 94 million miles from Earth, Kepler should remain in a safe, stable orbit around the sun. Flight controllers will disable the spacecraft’s transmitters, before bidding a final “good night.”

It had a magnificent run……just look at the site for more info….

The centuries-old quest for other worlds like our Earth has been rejuvenated by the intense excitement and popular interest surrounding the discovery of hundreds of planets orbiting other stars. There is now clear evidence for substantial numbers of three types of exoplanets; gas giants, hot-super-Earths in short period orbits, and ice giants. The challenge now is to find terrestrial planets (i.e., those one half to twice the size of the Earth), especially those in the habitable zone of their stars where liquid water might exist on the surface of the planet.

The Kepler Mission is specifically designed to survey our region of the Milky Way galaxy to discover hundreds of Earth-size and smaller planets in or near the habitable zone and determine the fraction of the hundreds of billions of stars in our galaxy that might have such planets.

https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/kepler/overview/index.html

Sundays are for relaxation….try it you will like it…..chuq

Saturday–27Oct18

Cooler weather for awhile…..garden is slowly showing the signs of approaching winter….Mo is ripping around the back yard and I am enjoying my beer….all in all a good day….this was the planter I was going to use for my radishes…..

I remember years ago when the Large Hadron Collider was in the process of being turned on and all the doom and gloom coming from some quarters.

We were told that once it was up and functioning then a massive black hole would be created and the destruction of our planet would be eminent….remember all those warnings?

Guess what.  The predictions have returned!

Martin Rees, a well-respected British cosmologist, has a warning about particle accelerators. There is a small, but very real possibility of disaster. Rees claims Earth could be crushed to the size of a soccer field by particle accelerators.

The Large Hadron Collider, which is a particle accelerator, shoots particles at incredibly high speeds, smashes them together, and scientists observe the fallout. According toScience Alert, these high-speed collisions have helped us discover a lot of new particles, but according to Rees, these discoveries come with several risks to humanity. In a new book, called On The Future: Prospects for Humanity, he gives some pretty dire possible outcomes of this type of advancement in science.

Maybe a black hole could form, and then suck in everything around it,” he writes, as Sarah Knapton reported over at the Telegraph.

“The second scary possibility is that the quarks would reassemble themselves into compressed objects called strangelets. That in itself would be harmless. However, under some hypotheses, a strangelet could, by contagion, convert anything else it encounters into a new form of matter, transforming the entire earth in a hyperdense sphere about one hundred meters across.”

 That’s about the length of one soccer field or 330 feet.

https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2018-10-02/renowned-cosmologist-warns-earth-could-be-crushed-particle-accelerator

Should we worry?

Time to sit and think……

Those Were The Days

I admit it….I was a acid rock fan….those were the days….Bennies, Dex, Yellow Jackets, Acid, Weed, ‘shrooms, etc…..

But recent scientific research has shown that some of the magic drugs of my youth can be beneficial in treating PTSD……

Those magic mushrooms that grow liberally in cow dung could indeed have properties that could help those suffering from PTSD……

Want to quit smoking or alleviate depression? In a few years you might be taking the psychedelic “magic” in magic mushrooms—if the FDA ever agrees, the New York Times reports. Researchers from John Hopkins University suggest the FDA should reclassify psilocybin—the psychedelic drug in hallucinogenic mushrooms—to a Schedule IV drug, meaning it can serve a medical use and isn’t likely to trigger addiction or abuse. It would be like sleeping pills, but not a simple prescription: “We believe that the conditions should be tightly controlled and that when taken for a clinical reason, it should be administered in a health care setting” under professional guidance, study co-author Matthew Johnson tells Fortune.

Published in Neuropharmacology, the study looks at psilocybin data going back to the 1940s. “In the 1960s, they were on the cutting edge of neuroscience research and understanding how the brain worked,” says Johnson. “But then it got out of the lab.” Research stopped partly because the hippie counterculture embraced mind-altering drugs like mushrooms and LSD, but a recent cultural shift has seen professionals adopt “microdosing” to increase productivity, and consumers—particularly women—use psychedelics to alleviate anxiety and depression. And while psilocybin poses some health risks, Johnson says in a press release it’s safer than other surveyed drugs. But don’t hold your breath: FDA approval could take more than five years.

Another drug of choice in those days was the sugar cubed “ACID”…LSD…..and yes they are finding it useful in moderation……go figure (we could have told them that but no one would listen)….

Microdosing” on psychedelic substances like LSD—ingesting just enough to heighten cognitive faculties, enhance creativity, improve concentration and alleviate depression—is currently back in vogue among people not normally associated with anything remotely ‘countercultural’ in the USA.

The term psychedelic was coined in 1958 by British psychiatrist Humphrey Osmond and is derived from the Greek words psyche (“soul, mind”) and delein(“to manifest”), hence “soul-manifesting,” the implication being that psychedelics can access the soul and develop unused potentials in the human mind. It’s a contention that’s gaining increased acceptance in mainstream universities.

https://theantimedia.com/political-significance-lsd/

Fascinating stuff, eh?

Some related reading……

https://www.alternet.org/speakeasy/martharosenberg/why-are-suicides-climbing-military-lets-look-drugs-being-prescribed

https://lobotero.com/2016/05/06/the-war-on-drugs-failed-so-why-isnt-it-over/

For your musical enjoyment…..

Archeology For A Sunday

Weekends and I choose stuff that is not a big headline generator….since I like history and archeology I want to share some of the stuff that has come to light recently….

We are discovering that the Maya were a lot more widespread than first believed….these fascinating people are coming into better understanding…..

Maya civilization was no mere collection of city states using slash-and-burn farming—that we learned earlier this year. Now archaeologists are looking deeper into an airborne survey that revealed a formidable civilization double the size of medieval England at its peak 1,200 years ago, Ars Technica reports. The survey, which used LIDAR (Light Detection And Ranging) to peek beneath the jungle foliage, revealed some 61,000 buildings, draining canals, fortresses, and roads across roughly 828 square miles. What archaeologists are saying about those details in Science:

  • Population: About 7 million to 11 million people populated the central Maya Lowlands—an area including some of Belize, Guatemala, and Yucatan—between 650 and 800 CE, the Late Classic Period. How did researchers crunch that number? By counting the structures per square mile and estimating how many were houses. Big cities like Tikal likely had hundreds of people per square mile, per Discovery.
  • Farming: A huge agricultural effort was needed to keep all those mouths fed, LiveScience notes. Imagine a complex grid of channels providing flood control and irrigation, with grids up to six feet wide and 20 inches deep, some stretching over half a mile. Still, densely populated cities like Naachtun and Tikal had to import food from other Maya kingdoms to survive.
  • Causeways: In earlier Maya times, from 1000 to 250 BCE, cities were linked by elevated roads or causeways up to 65 feet wide and up to 13 miles in length—but they fell into disuse when so-called Preclassic cities were abandoned. Yet their faded ghost outlines are visible on the LIDAR.
  • Fortresses: Mayans built more of them than expected in the Late Classic Period, and sophisticated ones, too. One has walls over 25 feet high and an Olympic-pool-size reservoir: “In other words, this place was ready for a siege,” says Ithaca College archaeologist Tom Garrison. “That is not really the type of conflict that we think about for the ancient Maya.”
  • Overall: “Seen as a whole, terraces and irrigation channels, reservoirs, fortifications, and causeways reveal an astonishing amount of land modification done by the Maya over their entire landscape on a scale previously unimaginable,” a Tulane researcher says in a statement.

The iconic sphinx has been a lonely monument to the early Egyptians and today it is not as lonely as it was in the past…..

Egypt says archaeologists have discovered a statue of a lion’s body and a human head in the southern city of Aswan. Per the AP, the Antiquities Ministry says the sphinx made of sandstone was found in the Temple of Kom Ombo during work to protect the site from groundwater. Mostafa Waziri, secretary general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, says the statue probably dates back to the Ptolemaic time. The Ptolemaic Dynasty ruled Egypt for some 300 years—from around 320BC to about 30BC. Egypt hopes such discoveries will spur tourism, partially driven by antiquities sightseeing, which was hit hard by political turmoil following the 2011 uprising. (Another recent discovery in Egypt predates this one’s origins by thousands of years.)

Since I can remember some archeologists have wanted to proven the Exodus and so far nothing….but a new site has been found and the attempt to prove continues…..

Ancient ruins found in the Israeli wilderness could solve the biblical mystery of the Exodus, archaeologists claim.

According to the Bible, Moses liberated the Israelites from slavery in Egypt and led them through the wilderness of Sinai, before they crossed the River Jordan into the promised land of Canaan.

Yet no historical basis for the legend exists, and experts generally agree the Israelites were in fact native to Canaan – an ancient region covering modern day Israel.

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-6210313/Do-ruins-prove-Biblical-story-Exodus.html

Personally, I think that the Israelites were just an off-shoot of the Canaanites and were in the region always since it is proven that the Egyptians have been proven to have not employed slaves…..but that is just me…..

Any thoughts?

Biotech Gone Bad?

The weekend begins and I try to find the stuff that does not make it to the headlines…..basically I try to be an FYI post……

I read disturbing stories and reports all the time but the ones that involve our environment especially when the food supply being tampered with…. like the below report……

How about GMO insects and the possibility of them being used as a bio-weapon?

A team of scientist sounds the alarm in a new Science Policy Forum report about a mysterious US government program that is developing genetically modified viruses that would be dispersed into the environment using insects. The virus-infected or ‘Frankenstein’ insects are being developed as countermeasures against potential natural and engineered threats to the US food supply. The program is operated by the Pentagon’s Defense Advanced Research Project Agency (DARPA) could be viewed as an attempt to develop an entirely new class of bioweapons that would prompt other nations to seek similar weapons, they cautioned.

The researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology and the University of Freiburg both in Germany, and the University of Montpellier in France suggest DARPA’s program could likely breach the Biological Weapons Convention, the first multilateral disarmament treaty banning the development, production, and stockpiling of biological and toxin weapons.

https://www.technocracy.news/darpa-developing-gmo-insects-that-genetically-modify-crops/

It should be a crime to use food as a weapon.

Personally, I do not like the idea of anything GMO.  It makes veggies tasteless…..and seeds worthless….I think we would be better off without the burden of GMO anything.

I try to grow my own veggies from non-GMO seeds as much as I can these days…..

Any thoughts?

Cooler mornings, more time in the garden…..I love Autumn!

Closing Thought–03Oct18

Ever notice that when the science of Physics is mentioned there is very little thought for the women in the field…….that oversight may well be a thing of the past…..

You see that a woman has finally won the Nobel prize for Physics…..

Three scientists from the United States, France, and Canada have been awarded the Nobel Prize in physics for advances in laser physics, including the first woman to take home the prize in 55 years. The Swedish Royal Academy of Sciences on Tuesday awarded half the $1.01 million prize to Arthur Ashkin of the United States, and the other half will be shared by Gerard Mourou of France and Donna Strickland of Canada, per the AP. Strickland is the third female laureate in physics, but the first in more than half a century, reports the BBC.

The academy says Ashkin developed “optical tweezers” that can grab tiny particles such as viruses without damaging them. As the Guardian notes, “this means scientists can hold even living cells in place, allowing them to probe their inner workings.” Strickland and Mourou helped develop short and intense laser pulses that have broad industrial and medical applications. The Nobel panel’s explanation: “Ultra-sharp laser beams make it possible to cut or drill holes in various materials extremely precisely—even in living matter. Millions of eye operations are performed every year with the sharpest of laser beams.” (A CERN scientist just got suspended for saying physics was built by men.)

Congrats to Ashkin for her award…..a much deserved one at that.

I must be off like a dirty shirt…..see ya later….chuq