The Sun in April – Steady as she goes!

The monthly updated graph for April of the Sun’s solar cycle sunspot activity was posted yesterday by NOAA’s Space Weather Prediction Center. You can see it below.

Though the Sun remained active, you can see that the steep increase in sunspot activity that occurred in March has ceased. At the moment it looks as if the Sun’s sunspot activity is following the most recent scientific prediction, more or less exactly, though the small dip in April puts the numbers slightly below that prediction.

All in all, we still appear to be headed to the weakest solar maximum in two hundred years.

April Sunspot activity

The story behind China’s planned space station begins to emerge

The story behind China’s planned space station begins to emerge.

China first said it would build a space station in 1992. But the need for a manned outpost “has been continually contested by Chinese space professionals who, like their counterparts in the United States, question the scientific utility and expense of human space flight”, says Gregory Kulacki, China project manager at the Union of Concerned Scientists, headquartered in Cambridge, Massachusetts. “That battle is effectively over now, however, and the funds for the space station seem to have been allocated, which is why more concrete details are finally beginning to emerge.”

Though I am always skeptical of comments from the Union of Concerned Scientists, in this case Kulacki makes sense. He also illustrates a further example of what I wrote in 2005, “After more than 40 years of debate, the argument is over and the supporters of manned spaceflight have won.”

White House modifies Osama bin Laden account

Multiple stories and contradictions from the White House over the details of Osama bin Laden’s death.

Idiots. The worst thing they could do is not get the story straight. By backing off from their original description of the attack on bin Laden’s compound the White House will only fuel conspiracy theories in the Middle East, where such things are rampant.

Is is too hard to find out what happened, then describe it accurately the first time? Or is exaggeration and lying so routine for these White House political appointees that even here they can’t resist embellishing the truth unnecessarily for political spin?

As I said, idiots.

More info on the asteroid “flyby” of Earth this coming November 8

More information on the asteroid “flyby” of Earth this coming November 8.

“On November 8, asteroid 2005 YU55 will fly past Earth and at its closest approach point will be about 325,000 kilometers [201,700 miles] away,” said Don Yeomans, manager of NASA’s Near-Earth Object Program Office at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. “This asteroid is about 400 meters [1,300 feet] wide – the largest space rock we have identified that will come this close until 2028.”

bin Laden killed by U.S. military

Justice: The U.S. military finally tracked down and killed Osama bin Laden yesterday.

Some additional information and analysis:

John Browning, part 4

An evening pause: The last part of “The Guns of John Browning” from Tales of the Gun.

The documentary correctly honors Browning for the quality of his designs and workmanship. To me, it is more important to honor him for making the weapons that allowed the United States to defend freedom in the twentieth century. Without these tools in the hands of our soldiers, the wars would have been longer and many more lives would have been lost. And worse, the fascists and Nazis and dictators might have won.

As George Bernard Shaw wrote in Major Barbara, “The people must have power.”

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