Tag Archives: science

An update on the Dept of Energy’s hold on monies to East Anglia

This story about the Department of Energy’s decision in May to suspend payments to the University of East Anglia because of the climategate scandal might very well be a Potemkin village. The story notes that they are placing a hold on $200k. However, Anthony Watts notes that DOE has probably provided East Anglia significantly more funds, in the millions. The suspension in funds then is only about one specific and not very large contract, with nothing said about the other funding. Note also that the hold was placed in May, pending the results of East Anglia’s own investigation. Since that investigation was a whitewash, I expect DOE to release these funds in near future.

Share

Loss of floating ice?

A paper published on Saturday in Geophysical Research Letters by the American Geophysical Union attempts to calculate the total ice loss at the polar caps and how it will affect the sea level. Key quote from the abstract: “Rapid losses of Arctic sea ice and small Antarctic ice shelves are partially offset by thickening of Antarctic sea ice and large Antarctic ice shelves.”

Share

Some weekend cave exploration

Posting today shall be very quiet, mostly because I am out in West Virginia, exploring a previously unknown upper level in a cave we are mapping. This passage was only discovered last month by Aaron Moses, John Harman, and Pete Johnson, who did a bolt climb of over 70 feet to reach a high lead in the wall of the cave. This weekend we will be pushing and mapping these virgin passages. Below is a picture taken by Brian Masney of Aaron Moses as he worked his way up the wall, with Pete Johnson providing a belay. More of Brian’s pictures can be seen on his Flicker webpage.

Aaron Moses bolt climbing

Share

Knowledge or Certainty

An evening pause: One of the best television science series ever produced was The Ascent of Man by Jacob Bronowski. Rather than simply describe science and knowledge, Bronowski instead pondered the nature of humanity. The best episode of the series was Knowledge or Certainty, in which Bronowski compared the humane uncertainty of science with the terrible consequences of dogma. As Oliver Cromwell said, “I beseech you, in the bowels of Christ, think it possible you may be mistaken.”

Share

Scientists measure the rise and fall of lakes on Titan

It appears we are entering the dry season on Titan. Scientists have observed a 1 meter drop in the levels of Titan’s methane lakes over the last four years as the seasons on the moon go from summer to fall. Fun quote: “[The scientists] report that the shoreline of Ontario Lacus receded by about 10 kilometers (6 miles) from June 2005 to July 2009.”

Share

More cave images from the Moon

James Fincannon of NASA has forwarded me two additional pictures of the same cave on the Moon, taken recently at different times by the camera on Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter and made available by the Goddard Space Flight Center and Arizona State University.

two images of the same pit

These images clearly show that the skylight looks down into a much larger space, with the underground room belling out from the skylight in all directions. This can be seen by how the angle of sunlight hitting the floor of the cave changes over time. Below is a very crude cartoon I have drawn to illustrate what I think we are seeing in the image on the left. The dashed lines indicate unseen walls whose precise location is not yet determined.

cartoon

James also forwarded me this link, showing even more images of additional lava tube skylights on the Moon.

Share

Greenland icecap is not melting

Steve Goddard has posted on Anthony Watt’s webpage a very detailed update on the state of the icecap covering Greenland. Surprise! There are no signs of it disappearing anytime soon. (Note that you might have to scroll to the right to see the text of Goddard’s post, as on some computers Watts’s webpage is unfortunately far too wide for the screen.)

Share

Boulder tracks on Mars

Here’s a nice picture from the HiRISE camera on Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, released July 7, showing the boulder tracks left by rocks bouncing down the escarpment of Kasei Valles in the low gravity of Mars. Fun quote:

Some of these blocks traveled downhill several hundred meters (yards) as they rolled and bounced, leaving behind a trail of indentations or poke marks in the surface’s fine-grained, light-toned soils. The raised borders in some of these poke marks indicate they are relatively recent features, unaffected by wind erosion, or that this soil has cohesive properties, such as if it was cemented.

Boulder tracks on Mars

Share

The state of the polar ice caps, June 2010

On July 6, the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) of the University of Colorado published its monthly report on the state of the polar ice caps. The Arctic ice cap, which this winter had been larger and more extensive than seen for many years, also shrank this spring at the fastest rate in years. (This chart, produced by data from the Japanese AMSR instruments on two research satellites, shows these trends very clearly.) Meanwhile, NSIDC reports that the ice cap in Antarctica is far larger than normal. Not unexpectedly, NSIDC immediately argues (quite unconvincingly if you ask me) that more ice in Antarctica is evidence for global warming.

From my perspective, the data continues to be inconclusive. We still do not really understand the long term trends of the Earth’s climate.

Share

More questions about climategate inquiry

More questions are being raised about the various climategate investigations, this time in the UK Parliament. Key quote:

Climategate may finally be living up to its name. If you recall, it wasn’t the burglary or use of funding that led to the impeachment of Nixon, but the cover-up. Now, ominously, three inquiries into affair have raised more questions than there were before.

Share

Water found around carbon star; Bok globule

Water vapor detected in deep space, first near the carbon star V Cygni and second in two dark starless cores. The second detection is a first time water has been seen in these black clouds. Fun quote from the abstract of the first paper notes how the detection “raises the intriguing possibility that the observed water is produced by the vapourisation of orbiting comets or dwarf planets.”

Share
1 165 166 167 168