Showing posts with label science news. Show all posts
Showing posts with label science news. Show all posts

8 Dec 2017

No More Sunspots?

Sunspots come and go in an 11-year cycle. Our sun has acted that way for centuries. With a few exceptions.

The sunspot cycle changed about 23 years back. I think we'll learn a great deal by studying what's happening, but at this point scientists aren't quite sure what to make of the new 'normal.'

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

1 Dec 2017

Still Seeking Earth 2.0

We've known about 55 Cancri e since 2004.

It may have lakes and rivers of lava. But that's probably not what keeps its night side hot enough to melt copper.

Ross 128 b, discovered this year, is a bit more massive than Earth, warm enough for liquid water, and too hot. It's not quite 'Earth 2.0,' but it may support life....

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

24 Nov 2017

Visitor from the Stars

"Scientists thought ‘Oumuamua was a comet when they spotted it last month.

"Follow-up observations showed it was more like an asteroid: and going too fast to be from the solar system.

"‘Oumuamua is from interstellar space. It's the first object of its kind we've seen.

"What scientists are learning about ‘Oumuamua tells us a bit about other planetary systems, and raises intriguing new questions...."

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

17 Nov 2017

Antarctic 'Hot' Spots

Some scientists say there'll be more carbon dioxide in Earth's atmosphere this year. They may be right.

I think the information's interesting, and may be meaningful. But I'm pretty sure this isn't a portent of doom.

Neither is a new and more detailed map of Antarctica's bedrock temperatures.

I'll be talking about that, the Halley VI base getting back in operation: and why I think we should keep learning about how Earth's climate works.

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

3 Nov 2017

A Century of Science

BBC News posted what a scientist thinks about we've learned in the last hundred years. That's hardly news.

What's remarkable is that he didn't go on to say that the sea will catch fire, or that if we don't recycle with greater zeal all the birds will die.

In short, that we're doomed. Doomed! DOOMED, I TELL YOU!!!!!

Not that BBC News goes in for that sort of thing. They're very British. Even so, an essentially upbeat look at a century of science and technology is somewhat remarkable.

The way I see it, science and technology are tools. Whether we use them to help or hurt each other is up to us.

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

27 Oct 2017

Swatting Fast Flies

We're a lot smarter than flies, which probably helps us swat them.

But the insects are very good at being somewhere else when the flyswatter or newspaper hits whatever they were on.

I've run into a few reasonable speculations. One was that flies are hypersensitive to air movements, and feel an approaching object. That may be part of the answer.

Scientists found another piece to that puzzle recently. "Recently" by my standards, that is. Flies live a whole lot faster than we do. Or, in a fly's eyes, we move in slow motion....

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

20 Oct 2017

LIGO/Virgo: Another First

Another gravitational wave observation gave scientists the best evidence yet about one aspect of merging stars.

On August 17, 2017, folks with the LIGO/Virgo collaboration observed three clusters of gravitational waves.

This time astronomers found an infrared, visible, and X-ray event near where the gravitational wave source.

The August gravitational wave observation, GW170817, is the first one where astronomers found electromagnetic waves coming from the same spot. It's a very big deal.

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

13 Oct 2017

Finding New Worlds

We could detect oxygen in Proxima Centauri b's atmosphere. It's a biosignature, but not proof of life.

Some extrasolar planets are like Earth, almost. Many are unlike anything in the Solar System.

I'll be looking at recently-discovered worlds; some almost familiar, others wonderfully unexpected. Also an informal 'top 10 best exoplanets' list.

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

6 Oct 2017

Einstein's Waves: New Views

Einstein's theories gave scientists good reasons for thinking gravitational waves exist. A century later, instruments detected the elusive radiation.

Three American scientists won this year's Nobel Prize in Physics for work that led to the discovery.

Observatories in America and Italy have detected three more gravitational wave signals. What they learned wasn't quite what they expected....

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

29 Sep 2017

Planet 9, Maybe; Nibiru, No

The world didn't end last Saturday. That's nothing new, and neither is another fizzled End Times prediction.

I'll be talking about how a current End Times prediction affected someone whose name is the same as the wannabe prophet's; but is an entertainer, not a doomsayer.

I'll also take a look at the continuing, and serious, search for Planet 9; predictions involving close encounters of the cometary kind; and what we're learning about the outer Solar System....

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

22 Sep 2017

An Ichthyosaur Tale

A nation's schools are returning to traditional values. Whether that's good or bad news depends partly on how you see what we've learned since about 1859.

I think we've learned more about how the universe works, and that this is good news. We haven't consistently made good use of the knowledge, but that's our problem.

We've made good and bad use of everything we've learned, from using fire to writing blogs. Whether it's good or bad depends on us, not fire or the Internet. And that's another topic.

Two scientists studied an ichthyosaur that had been used as a wall decoration. What they learned adds to what we're learning about those critters. I think that's worthwhile.

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

15 Sep 2017

Cassini-Huygens Mission

The Cassini-Huygens mission ends this week, after 13 years in orbit around Saturn. Scientists found answers to some questions they had, and uncovered new questions.

I think they'll be studying Cassini's and Huygens' data for years. Decades.

I'll take a quick look at what we've learned, and why scientists want follow-up missions to the Saturn system.

The Enceladan subsurface ocean wasn't a complete surprise.

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

7 Sep 2017

Labor Day SETI

I nearly missed an interesting development in SETI, the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence. Interesting, and as newsworthy as most Stephen Hawking stories, but probably not significant.

Professor Hawking didn't start chatting with aliens over the Labor Day weekend. That would be major news.

But an outfit he's connected with will be listening to FRB 121102. I think it's likely that they'll collect useful data, and that this isn't a prelude to 'first contact.'

Other scientists say they've spotted several planets orbiting Tau Ceti. Two of them may be just inside that star's habitable zone.

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

30 Aug 2017

Harvey Over Texas

Harvey's in the news, a lot, and probably will be for days.

I noticed stuff piling up in my notes, and decided that getting part of my 'Friday' post done early was a good idea....

...News reporting generally uses more superlatives than I like.

"Unprecedented" seems to be particularly popular with BBC News editors at the moment.

I don't mind things being biggest, smallest, newest, or whatever. But I've learned to be rationally skeptical when I read that something is the biggest, worst, or most devastating thing of its kind....

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

26 Aug 2017

Great American Eclipse 2017

A Solar eclipse sweeping from coast to coast dominated Monday's news in America.

I saw headlines describing the event, weather in different states, how folks had prepared and how they reacted, and some of the science involved.

It was nice while it lasted....

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

21 Jul 2017

Using Vaccines Wisely

Using drones to deliver vaccines seems reasonable for places like Vanuatu.

But vaccines won't help if folks don't know how to use them correctly, or can't.

Others avoid vaccines because they believe warnings from dubious sources.

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

7 Jul 2017

Misusing Opioids

"Crisis" or not, opioid overdose is a problem. A lethal one, sometimes.

We've used one opioid, opium, for millennia. Others have been developed during my lifetime. They're all useful: and dangerous if misused.

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

30 Jun 2017

Exoplanet Frontier

We wouldn't expect to find life on 51 Eridani b, even if were the size of Earth and at the right distance from its star.

The planet is only a bit over 20,000,000 years old.

At that point in our home's long story, the earliest critters wouldn't appear for at least another several million years.

We've discovered thousands of new worlds so far, some a bit like Earth, most not; and many not like anything in our Solar System.

Scientists are starting to make sense of what's being found, and discovering that we have a very great deal left to learn.

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

23 Jun 2017

Old Truths, New Aspects

The biggest critters with backbones are living today: baleen whales.

Finding the largest of them started getting harder about a century back.

We didn't quite drive the blue and fin whales to extinction, happily.

We're learning when they got so big, and maybe why.

We're also learning more about origins of dinosaurs and the domestic cat. It's not the same origin.

One happened around the time we started storing grain, the other 200,000,000 years ago. Give or take a bit.

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

2 Jun 2017

New Worlds: The Search Continues

There's a huge telescope under construction in Chile: the E-ELT. When compete, astronomers using it plan plan on looking for new worlds, and observing the early universe.

We may have spotted a second super-Saturn. We'll know more about that in September....

...Telescopes have come a long way since Galileo repurposed the "Dutch perspective glass" for astronomical observation.

About Galileo, Copernicus, the sun, and the Church: it's true....

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

My Affinity for Saint Lucy and My Battle with Fuchs Corneal Dystrophy

Saint Lucy was born in 283 A.D. in Syracuse, Italy, what we refer to today as Sicily. Little is known about this Saint, except that she d...