Monthly Archives: February 2013

Scientists have released some results from their look at asteroid 2012 DA14 during its fly-by last week.

Scientists have released some results, including video, from their look at asteroid 2012 DA14 during its fly-by last week. Key quote:

The asteroid’s path was perturbed by Earth’s gravitational field in such a way that it won’t come as close in the foreseeable future.

The video, which I have embeded below the fold, was produced from radar data. It clearly shows the asteroid’s rotation.
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A new poll of Earth scientists has found that a majority are skeptical of human-caused global warming.

Consensus! A new poll of Earth scientists has found that a majority are skeptical of human-caused global warming.

Only 36 percent of geoscientists and engineers believe that humans are creating a global warming crisis, according to a survey reported in the peer-reviewed Organization Studies. By contrast, a strong majority of the 1,077 respondents believe that nature is the primary cause of recent global warming and/or that future global warming will not be a very serious problem.

This is fun to note, but this poll is as worthless in determining the climate of the Earth as every previous poll that said the opposite. What matters is the data. However, this quote about the poll is significant:
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Two days ago the Congressional Budget Office increased its projection for the cost of Obamacare by 29 percent, while also saying that seven million workers will lose their health insurance due to the law, almost twice as many as previously estimated.

Not fit to print: Two days ago the Congressional Budget Office increased its projection for the cost of Obamacare by 29 percent, while also saying that seven million workers will lose their health insurance due to the law, almost twice as many as previously estimated.

As noted at the link, not one news organization has seen fit to mention this juicy tidbit in their news reports. I wonder why?

Meanwhile, we will go bankrupt. This law, and the government that is imposing it on us, is unsustainable.

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A gun control bill introduced in Washington includes a provision that allows the police to conduct yearly house searches, without a warrant, of any gun owner’s home.

The fascists are out: A gun control bill introduced in the state of Washington includes a provision that allows the police to conduct yearly house searches, without a warrant, of any gun owner’s home.

Such searches would violate the fourth amendment of the Constitution, and in my case, any cop who showed up at my door would be politely told that I do not consent to any searches, without a warrant. They don’t get in my door.

Meanwhile, the Democrats who sponsored this bill, without reading it of course, are now tripping over themselves to disavow it, as if that would somehow make everyone forget that they introduced it.

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The abandoned calibration targets used by surveillance satellites of the 1960s.

The abandoned calibration targets used by surveillance satellites of the 1960s.

“There are dozens of aerial photo calibration targets across the USA,” the Center for Land Use Interpretation reports, “curious land-based two-dimensional optical artifacts used for the development of aerial photography and aircraft. They were made mostly in the 1950s and 1960s, though some apparently later than that, and many are still in use, though their history is obscure.”

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Largest in a century.

More on today’s Russian meteorite: Largest in a century.

My earlier skepticism appears incorrect. This impact actually happened.

Note the article’s sense of outrage and panic that we aren’t looking for these types of rocks:

Although a network of telescopes watches for asteroids that might strike Earth, it is geared towards spotting larger objects — between 100 metres and a kilometre in size. “Objects like that are nearly impossible to see until a day or two before impact,” says Timothy Spahr, Director of the Minor Planet Center in Cambridge, Massachusetts, which tracks asteroids and small bodies. So far as he knows, he says, his centre also failed to spot the approaching rock.

Yet, today’s impact actually illustrates the wisdom of excluding this kind of small asteroid from searches. They aren’t big enough to do serious harm, and trying to find them would hamper searches for larger asteroids that do pose a serious risk.

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An outline of the cuts NASA would do if sequestration occurs on March 1 includes shutting down commercial crew while leaving the Space Launch System untouched.

An outline of the cuts NASA proposes if sequestration occurs on March 1 includes shutting down commercial crew while leaving the Space Launch System untouched.

I am in favor of sequestration, as it will only bring NASA’s budget back to the numbers the agency received in 2005, numbers that were then totally sufficient to build Constellation and fly the shuttle. Now that the cost of the shuttle is gone there should be sufficient cash today for everything NASA wants to do.

To favor the very expensive and not very useful SLS system over the new commercial crew contracts however is madness. I suspect this letter is meant as a lobbying sledge hammer to try to convince Congress to cancel sequestration. If it is serious, however, than say good-bye to any manned American spacecraft for at least another few years, as I expect the new private companies will not disappear, but their effort will be slowed significantly as they search for alternative funding.

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An unexpected meteorite shower yesterday across three regions of Russia has reportedly caused more than 400 people to seek medical help.

An unexpected meteorite shower yesterday across three regions of Russia has reportedly caused more than 400 people to seek medical help.

Hundreds suffered cuts from broken glass as the meteorites smashed windows in numerous buildings across the Chelyabinsk Region, officials said. “The condition of at least three [people] is considered grave,” an Interior Ministry spokesman said. At least six cities have been hit in three central regions of Russia. Some areas of neighboring Kazakhstan were also affected, Russian state officials confirmed on Friday.

There is something about this story, reported in many Russian news sources, that smells fishy to me. Something happened, and it likely is related to a shower of meteorites, but the images at the link above as well as here and here just don’t look right.

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A group of California scientists have proposed a system to vaporize asteroids that threaten Earth.

A group of California scientists have proposed a system to vaporize asteroids that threaten Earth.

In developing the proposal, Lubin and Hughes calculated the requirements and possibilities for DE-STAR systems of several sizes, ranging from a desktop device to one measuring 10 kilometers, or six miles, in diameter. Larger systems were also considered. The larger the system, the greater its capabilities.

For instance, DE-STAR 2 –– at 100 meters in diameter, about the size of the International Space Station –– “could start nudging comets or asteroids out of their orbits,” Hughes said. But DE-STAR 4 –– at 10 kilometers in diameter, about 100 times the size of the ISS –– could deliver 1.4 megatons of energy per day to its target, said Lubin, obliterating an asteroid 500 meters across in one year.

They also propose an even larger system which could “enable interstellar travel.”

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Scientists now believe they have found evidence proving that the unknown origin of cosmic rays are supernova explosions.

Scientists now believe they have found evidence proving that the unknown origin of cosmic rays are supernova explosions.

This has been one of astronomy’s longest outstanding mysteries: What produces the interstellar cosmic rays that come from outside our solar system?

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Asteroid 2012 DA14 might experience seismic activity when it zips pass the Earth tomorrow.

Asteroid 2012 DA14 might experience seismic activity, an asteroid quake, when it zips pass the Earth tomorrow.

[MIT scientist Richard] Binzel imagines what an astronaut floating alongside such an asteroid might see: “The surface could slowly sway or rock by a few centimeters. Other things to look for would be puffs of asteroid-dust rising from the surface and gentle avalanches on the steepest slopes of craters.” In rare cases, “rubble pile” asteroids might break apart during the encounter and then re-form as Earth recedes into the distance.

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William Shatner proposes naming Pluto’s two unnamed moons Romulus and Vulcan.

William Shatner proposes naming Pluto’s two unnamed moons Romulus and Vulcan.

Astronomers running the Pluto moon naming campaign accepted Vulcan, adding it to the list a day after Shatner suggested it, but Romulus didn’t make the cut. “Mr. Shatner’s second suggestion, Romulus, has a bit of a problem because it is already the name of a moon,” Mark Showalter, an astronomer involved with the competition, wrote in a blog on the Pluto Rocks website on Tuesday. “Romulus, along with his brother Remus, are the names of the moons of the asteroid 87 Silvia. They were discovered by a team led by my good colleague Franck Marchis, now a senior scientist at the SETI Institute.”

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Building a real Peace Forest in Israel

Dedication to the Peace Forest
One of the plaques inside the Peace Forest

Just after the 1967 war, a strip of land in Jerusalem that had been part of no man’s land after the city was divided following the 1948 war was turned into a Peace Forest to symbolize “the hope for peace and serenity between all Jerusalem’s residents.” Located on a hillside that overlooks the city, the Jewish National Fund sponsored a campaign to have the site landscaped elegantly, with a promenade and a series of architectural observation points, each designed differently as if their architects were competing with each other for the most creative structure.

In 2003 my oldest nephew was married from the highest point on this hillside, just above the Peace Forest, with the entire city of Jerusalem as the backdrop. At the time there was a catering hall at this location, and it seemed to them to be a perfect place to tie the knot.
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