Category Archives: Science

Solar Max

We are nearing Solar Maximum, which means that we will have some effects to radio spectrum telecommunications, like the X1.4 flare detailed below:

NASA has confirmed that a powerful X-class solar flare erupted from the sun on Apr. 24. Thanks to the space agency’s Solar Dynamics Observatory, there is photographic evidence of the solar event.

According to NASA, a solar flare is a “sudden, rapid and intense variation in brightness.” A flare takes place when magnetic energy that has accumulated in the solar atmosphere is suddenly released.

While harmful radiation from a flare cannot penetrate Earth’s atmosphere to physically impact humans on the ground, it can impact the atmosphere in the layer where GPS and communications signals travel.

Here’s more about the Solar Max from NASA:

360-Degree View of the Milky Way From NASA – JPL

This video shows a continually-looping infrared view of our Milky Way galaxy, as seen by NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope. MORE INFO BELOW…

The icon in the lower right corner shows how the view changes over time, from our position in the Milky Way.

The mosaic comes primarily from the GLIMPSE360 project, which stands for Galactic Legacy Mid-Plane Survey Extraordinaire. It consists of more than 2 million snapshots taken in infrared light over ten years, beginning in 2003 when Spitzer launched.

This infrared image reveals much more of the galaxy than can be seen in visible-light views. Whereas visible light is blocked by dust, infrared light from stars and other objects can travel through dust to reach Spitzer’s detectors. For instance, when looking up at our night skies, we see stars that are an average of 1,000 light-years away; the rest are hidden. In Spitzer’s mosaic, light from stars throughout the galaxy — which stretches 100,000 light-years across — shines through. This picture covers only about three percent of the sky, but includes more than half of the galaxy’s stars and the majority of its star formation activity.

The red color shows dusty areas of star formation. Throughout the galaxy, tendrils, bubbles and sculpted dust structures are apparent. These are the result of massive stars blasting out winds and radiation. Stellar clusters deeply embedded in gas and dust, green jets and other features related to the formation of young stars can also be seen for the first time. Looking towards the galactic center, the blue haze is made up of starlight — the region is too far away for us to pick out individual stars, but they contribute to the glow. Dark filaments that show up in stark contrast to the bright background are areas of thick, cold dust that not even infrared light can penetrate.

The GLIMPSE360 map will guide astronomers for generations, helping them to further chart the unexplored territories of our own Milky Way.

via 360-Degree View of the Milky Way – YouTube.

‘Electronic skin’ equipped with memory

This is merely the beginning — nano-technology razor thin wearable and/or implantable sensors coupled with computer on a chips wearing highly accurate medical devices that track everything will become the norm as these devices will become printable or otherwise available for mass production. Forget about those bulky android watches, this is the real future to come.

From : Nature News & Comment
Researchers have created a wearable device that is as thin as a temporary tattoo and can store and transmit data about a person’s movements, receive diagnostic information and release drugs into skin.Similar efforts to develop ‘electronic skin’ abound, but the device is the first that can store information and also deliver medicine — combining patient treatment and monitoring. Its creators, who report their findings today in Nature Nanotechnology1, say that the technology could one day aid patients with movement disorders such as Parkinson’s disease or epilepsy.The researchers constructed the device by layering a package of stretchable nanomaterials — sensors that detect temperature and motion, resistive RAM for data storage, microheaters and drugs — onto a material that mimics the softness and flexibility of the skin. The result was a sticky patch containing a device roughly 4 centimetres long, 2 cm wide and 0.003 millimetres thick, says study co-author Nanshu Lu, a mechanical engineer at the University of Texas in Austin.

via ‘Electronic skin' equipped with memory : Nature News & Comment.

Creationism & Climate Denialism – The Future Tearing Points in the GOP

In this video P. Z. Meyers, Genie Scott, and Larry Moran discuss the ideologies driving the GOP’s anti science and anti-reason voter blocs as well as the tactics of the Tea Parties. At the local levels I’ve pointed out how the far right extreme blocs are minorities – but how they are also highly effective at local levels while remaining toxic at the national level. You will continue to see the effects of this over the next decade in state and local legislatures and school boards.

The local Tea Party blocs are taking over local school boards because nobody else wants to do it, and the religious zealots among them are trying to drive creationism and climate denialism into public schools, attacking the public schools through privatization efforts, voucher programs, and charter or magnet school initiatives that drive children into schools run by religious institutions. They are doing this all at state level or below, because they know that none of these efforts will fly if put to national vote or the full congress.

I’m with P.Z on the charter school question — the religious right has latched onto this concept in a big way over the past decade.

Watch the part where Genie draws the Venn diagrams, this patch work ideological spectrum allows the Republican party to stitch the libertarian right to the religious right and is a very important bloc for them — if the Democrats want to succeed in Red States that is exactly the place they must tear at.

Red states are going to suffer more over the long run from Climate Change, so this is an issue where the Democrats can make major inroads if they work locally in the red states even though it seems impossible at this point. Anti-Science is also bad business which where they can make headway as well.

Arctic Ice Breaks Up in Beaufort Sea Back in March

A series of intense storms in the Arctic has caused fracturing of the sea ice around the Beaufort Sea along the northern coasts of Alaska and Canada. High-resolution imagery from the Suomi NPP satellite shows the evolution of the cracks forming in the ice, called leads, from February 17 — March 18 2013. The general circulation of the area is seen moving the ice westward along the Alaskan coast.

via Arctic Ice Breaks Up in Beaufort Sea – YouTube.

Waterproof Camera with GPS

For years I’ve used a point and shoot — a hideout camera that I could put in my pocket while walking around for those photo opportunities that come up when you don’t expect them. The very first one I had was the Kodak DC210, with an amazing 1 megapixel of resolution. (similar to this)

When the time came to move to more megapixels the natural jump was to a Sony Cybershot and its 8 megapixel but pocket sized awesomeness, the current models of the same camera are now available in a variety of 14 – 16 megapixel models:

DSC04507-2After years of use the lens started making a grinding sound when it extended, and sometimes the shutter-like cover leaves did not fully open. While in St. Lucia we took a catamaran trip in the rain and I didn’t feel the least bit uncomfortable snapping away even though the camera was getting drenched because I knew that the time had finally come to replace the Sony.
The pictures came out fine, and the camera did not get damaged, which got me looking for a camera that I didn’t have to worry about in water.

That search led me to the Nikon AW-100, a great little camera that comes fully featured. It can survive immersion up to 33 feet (10 meters,) freezing, and minor shock (drops from five feet.) On top of that has 16 megapixel sensor coupled with built in GPS.

While the glass is not quite as nice as the Cybershot’s Zeiss lens, the Nikon’s 5X zoom lens produces reasonably sharp photos throughout its range, from macro to telephoto. It has many preset modes, and a fully auto mode for capture. The GPS works great, and photos I imported to Lightroom dropped right onto the map once I turned on the GPS feature:Lightroom-GPS-placement

It works great underwater, (see photos below) and the built in ability to imprint time and latitude longitude onto the photo and/or to just capture them to metadata are great tools for scientists, police, sports enthusiasts, and others who need to document either their play or work. The built in GPS compass is also handy, and I can see myself using this camera for a metadata reference shot whenever I shoot a series with my DSLR’s and lenses. I have to say that I am loving the new tech acquisition.

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Night of Meteors

From EsoCast. Look closely and see a meteor shower captured in this series of timelapse shots. On 14–16 December 2012, the Geminid meteor shower made a spectacular appearance over ESO’s Paranal Observatory in Chile. As the meteors showered down over the site, photographer Gianluca Lombardi spent over 40 hours recording it.

The Geminids is a shower of shooting stars appearing to emanate from within the constellation of Gemini (The Twins). This shower occurs when the Earth cuts through the orbit of an asteroid named 3200 Phaethon, which happens once each year, in December. Particles in the trail of dust along the orbit of Phaethon burn up in our atmosphere, creating the brilliant, fast-moving points of light characteristic of meteor showers.

via Night of Meteors – YouTube.