Conscious Choice cover

From the press release: In this ground-breaking new history of early America, historian Robert Zimmerman not only exposes the lie behind The New York Times 1619 Project that falsely claims slavery is central to the history of the United States, he also provides profound lessons about the nature of human societies, lessons important for Americans today as well as for all future settlers on Mars and elsewhere in space.

Conscious Choice: The origins of slavery in America and why it matters today and for our future in outer space, is a riveting page-turning story that documents how slavery slowly became pervasive in the southern British colonies of North America, colonies founded by a people and culture that not only did not allow slavery but in every way were hostile to the practice.  
Conscious Choice does more however. In telling the tragic history of the Virginia colony and the rise of slavery there, Zimmerman lays out the proper path for creating healthy societies in places like the Moon and Mars.


“Zimmerman’s ground-breaking history provides every future generation the basic framework for establishing new societies on other worlds. We would be wise to heed what he says.” —Robert Zubrin, founder of founder of the Mars Society.


Available everywhere for $3.99 (before discount) at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and all ebook vendors, or direct from the ebook publisher, ebookit. And if you buy it from ebookit you don't support the big tech companies and I get a bigger cut much sooner.

Sunspot update for May 2018: Solar activity hangs on

NOAA yesterday posted its monthly update of the solar cycle, covering sunspot activity for May 2018. As I do every month, I have annotated the graph and posted it below.

The small uptick in sunspots that we saw in April after the low in March continued.

May 2018 sunspot activity

The graph above has been modified to show the predictions of the solar science community. The green curves show the community’s two original predictions from April 2007, with half the scientists predicting a very strong maximum and half predicting a weak one. The red curve is their revised May 2009 prediction. The yellow line compares the present activity with the activity during solar minimum in 2008 and 2009.

In a sense, the increased activity in May was less a return to an active Sun and more a reflection of the Sun’s 27-day rotation period. I have noted this previously but it bears repeating. We count sunspots by the number seen daily on the visible hemisphere of the Sun. Since it is not unusual for sunspot activity to be unevenly distributed across the entire solar globe, it often happens that, during the time when sunspot activity is weak but still occurring, one hemisphere will be blank while the other has sunspots. As the Sun rotates we therefore go through a two week period with no sunspots followed by a two week stretch with increased activity.

SILSO graph, June 4, 2018

This happened in May, as shown by the SILSO graph on the right. While a majority of the Sun’s surface had some sunspots in May, there was a week-long period mid-month when no sunspots were visible. It was at this time that the hemisphere that happened to be less active was facing us.

That quiet period ended on May 20th. Based on the Sun’s 27-day rotation period, you could then predict that a quiet period would next return around two weeks later, around June 1st. And lo and behold, if you look at the graph on the right you will see that on June 3rd the Sun returned to a blank state once again.

Obviously, this type of prediction is very superficial and explains nothing. Moreover, it is reliable only for short periods, as sunspot activity on the surface eventually shifts about so that no specific hemisphere of the Sun remains blank for long. Nonetheless, the fact that about half the Sun’s surface is now routinely blank is another indication that we are heading toward solar minimum, and it looks like we shall reach it, based on the first graph above, sometime late this year or early in 2019. This will make this solar cycle a short ten-year-long cycle. It will also be a weak cycle. This is unprecedented, as in the past short cycles were always more active, not less.

The Sun continues to baffle, and exhibit behavior that we have not seen in more than three hundred years, since the last Grand Minimum.


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One comment

  • Phill O

    “Obviously, this type of prediction is very superficial and explains nothing.”

    Well, not quite true! It does explain the scatter in data near solar minimum, and that we need to remember that solar minimum has not yet come.

    However, the whole solar sun spot cycle is just one indicator for “something” is going on in solar dynamics. We are having a treasure trove of data right now, unprecedented in history: a possible chance to document what happens during a grand minimum.

    As with any research, as some questions are answered, many more come to “light”.

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