The sun unleashed a cosmic double whammy Tuesday (March 6), erupting with two major flares to cap a busy day of powerful solar storms. One of the flares is the most powerful solar eruption of the year, so far.
Both of the huge flares ranked as X-class storms, the strongest type of solar flares the sun can have. They followed several weaker, but still powerful, sun storms on Tuesday and came just days after
Sometimes there are things that are just as important as energy distribution/consumption and the environment in general. Sometimes an event is so large that you have to at least acknowledge that it happened. Such was the case of the death of Princess Dianah or Hurricane Katrina. So it is with the landing of the Curiosity MARs Probe. It is nuclear powered and this blog does not care for that. It extends capitalism’s mythology that humans have unlimited capacity to expand, thus unlimited markets to exploit. Still there is so much to learn and so little time as our planet heats up. So while this is just a little text. It is so much more than that.
This image released on Tuesday Aug. 7,2012 by NASA shows the first color view of the north wall and rim of Gale Crater where NASA’s rover Curiosity landed Sunday night. The picture was taken by the rover’s camera at the end of its stowed robotic arm and appears fuzzy because of dust on the camera’s cover. (AP Photo/NASA)
NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity snapped this picture of Mount Sharp with its front Hazard Avoidance camera, or Hazcam. The photo was released by NASA on Aug. 6, 2012.
My ability to post videos is limited by my technological inadequacies. However, we care about the environment exactly because we care about the solar system and the universe. So since it will not happen again in my lifetime here is a short clip of the transit of Venus across the face of the sun.
The author finds the humor in such widely diverse places as Cal-Tech, the Jet Propulsion Lab (JPL), and of course in his own business ventures in the alternative energy field. A true renaissance man, the author has enjoyed more careers, and indulged in more laughter, than many people would experience in two lifetimes.
Thanks to Robert Danziger for his comprehensive and informative answers.
Robert Danziger: At the gym a couple of years ago a young mother was supervising her two kids, five and eight years old. We struck up a conversation and she told me that she doesn’t let her kids watch the news anymore because the energy and environmental stories had given them repeated nightmares. Partisanship and the escalation of catastrophic rhetoric threatened the sense of security and safety she wants for her children.
My career has been inventing and developing solutions. I am fundamentally optimistic about new technology and our ability to respond to crisis. Scaring people doesn’t work and breeds resentment. I don’t want to be part of scaring kids to accomplish something.
The conversation with that young mother convinced me to take a year or so to listen to people from a broad range of ages, politics, and beliefs to try to find out what people agreed on, if anything. I found three things all of them, at least in these groups, agreed on without exception: people like to laugh; like music; and want energy independence and a clean environment when they are coupled with prosperity.
Dragon capsule on course for space station arrival
By MARCIA DUNN
The Associated Press
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — The privately bankrolled Dragon capsule approached the International Space Station for a historic docking Friday after sailing through a practice rendezvous the day before.
The unmanned SpaceX Dragon was on track most of the morning to deliver a half-ton of supplies and become the first commercial vessel to visit the space station. But as the capsule drew within 100 feet, flight controllers commanded it to retreat.
The capsule backed off to 230 feet as the SpaceX company worked to resolve a problem with the on-board tracking sensors. Stray reflections from the Japanese part of the space station were interfering with the Dragon’s laser-based sensors, officials said. SpaceX mission controllers quickly fixed the trouble and resumed the docking operation.
On Thursday, the capsule came within 1½ miles of the space station in a practice fly-by. It returned to the neighborhood early Friday so Kuipers and U.S. astronaut Donald Pettit could capture it with a robot arm. First, the capsule went through a series of stop-and-go demonstrations to prove it was under good operating control.
What do you think has a greater impact on society, a Bugatti Veyron Super Sport or a Tesla Roadster? Both have spectacular performance reviews, with the Super Sport setting top speed records. Both will turn heads driving down any road or even through any parking lot in the world. Both are truly engineering marvels.
However, the engineering accomplishments behind both vehicles will be dwarfed by the advances Tesla has made with its power storage devices. Let’s take a look at a few numbers for both vehicles (see table).
These numbers are astonishing. As a “car guy,” the opportunity to drive either of these vehicles would be amazing. However, as an energy professional, these numbers are even more astonishing.
Amazing Head Output
The Bugatti Veyron Super Sport was designed and built for one purpose — to set a new speed record. It is also what I like to refer to as a “straight-line car.” What I mean by that is simple: Even with that much horsepower and amazing technological advances, there are cars (and some cost under $100,000) that can beat the Super Sport around a race track.
Martin Luther King’s Acceptance Speech, on the occasion of the award of the Nobel Peace Peace Prize in Oslo, December 10, 1964
Your Majesty, Your Royal Highness, Mr. President, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen:
I accept the Nobel Prize for Peace at a moment when 22 million Negroes of the United States of America are engaged in a creative battle to end the long night of racial injustice. I accept this award on behalf of a civil rights movement which is moving with determination and a majestic scorn for risk and danger to establish a reign of freedom and a rule of justice. I am mindful that only yesterday in Birmingham, Alabama, our children, crying out for brotherhood, were answered with fire hoses, snarling dogs and even death. I am mindful that only yesterday in Philadelphia, Mississippi, young people seeking to secure the right to vote were brutalized and murdered. And only yesterday more than 40 houses of worship in the State of Mississippi alone were bombed or burned because they offered a sanctuary to those who would not accept segregation. I am mindful that debilitating and grinding poverty afflicts my people and chains them to the lowest rung of the economic ladder.
Therefore, I must ask why this prize is awarded to a movement which is beleagured and committed to unrelenting struggle; to a movement which has not won the very peace and brotherhood which is the essence of the Nobel Prize.
After contemplation, I conclude that this award which I receive on behalf of that movement is a profound recognition that nonviolence is the answer to the crucial political and moral question of our time – – the need for man to overcome oppression and violence without resorting to violence and oppression. Civilization and violence are antithetical concepts. Negroes of the United States, following the people of India, have demonstrated that nonviolence is not sterile passivity, but a powerful moral force which makes for social transformation. Sooner or later all the people of the world will have to discover a way to live together in peace, and thereby transform this pending cosmic elegy into a creative psalm of brotherhood, If this is to be achieved, man must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression and retaliation. The foundation of such a method is love.
The tortuous road which has led from Montgomery, Alabama, to Oslo bears witness to this truth. This is a road over which millions of Negroes are travelling to find a new sense of dignity. This same road has opened for all Americans a new era of progress and hope. It has led to a new Civil Rights Bill, and it will, I am convinced, be widened and lengthened into a super highway of justice as Negro and white men in increasing numbers create alliances to overcome their common problems.
I accept this award today with an abiding faith in America and an audacious faith in the future of mankind. I refuse to accept despair as the final response to the ambiguities of history. I refuse to accept the idea that the “isness” of man’s present nature makes him morally incapable of reaching up for the eternal “oughtness” that forever confronts him. I refuse to accept the idea that man is mere flotsom and jetsom in the river of life unable to influence the unfolding events which surround him. I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality.
The Sun is by far the largest object in the solar system. It contains more than 99.8% of the total mass of the Solar System (Jupiter contains most of the rest).
It is often said that the Sun is an “ordinary” star. That’s true in the sense that there are many others similar to it. But there are many more smaller stars than larger ones; the Sun is in the top 10% by mass. The median size of stars in our galaxy is probably less than half the mass of the Sun.
The Sun is personified in many mythologies: the Greeks called it Helios and the Romans called it Sol.
The Sun is, at present, about 70% hydrogen and 28% helium by mass everything else (“metals“) amounts to less than 2%. This changes slowly over time as the Sun converts hydrogen to helium in its core.
The outer layers of the Sun exhibit differential rotation: at the equator the surface rotates once every 25.4 days; near the poles it’s as much as 36 days. This odd behavior is due to the fact that the Sun is not a solid body like the Earth. Similar effects are seen in the gas planets. The differential rotation extends considerably down into the interior of the Sun but the core of the Sun rotates as a solid body.
Conditions at the Sun’s core (approximately the inner 25% of its radius) are extreme. The temperature is 15.6 million Kelvin and the pressure is 250 billion atmospheres. At the center of the core the Sun’s density is more than 150 times that of water.
The Sun is the most prominent feature in our solar system. It is the largest object and contains approximately 98% of the total solar system mass. One hundred and nine Earths would be required to fit across the Sun’s disk, and its interior could hold over 1.3 million Earths. The Sun’s outer visible layer is called the photosphere and has a temperature of 6,000°C (11,000°F). This layer has a mottled appearance due to the turbulent eruptions of energy at the surface.
Solar energy is created deep within the core of the Sun. It is here that the temperature (15,000,000° C; 27,000,000° F) and pressure (340 billion times Earth’s air pressure at sea level) is so intense that nuclear reactions take place. This reaction causes four protons or hydrogen nuclei to fuse together to form one alpha particle or helium nucleus. The alpha particle is about .7 percent less massive than the four protons. The difference in mass is expelled as energy and is carried to the surface of the Sun, through a process known as convection, where it is released as light and heat. Energy generated in the Sun’s core takes a million years to reach its surface. Every second 700 million tons of hydrogen are converted into helium ashes. In the process 5 million tons of pure energy is released; therefore, as time goes on the Sun is becoming lighter.
The chromosphere is above the photosphere. Solar energy passes through this region on its way out from the center of the Sun. Faculae and flares arise in the chromosphere. Faculae are bright luminous hydrogen clouds which form above regions where sunspots are about to form. Flares are bright filaments of hot gas emerging from sunspot regions. Sunspots are dark depressions on the photosphere with a typical temperature of 4,000°C (7,000°F).
The corona is the outer part of the Sun’s atmosphere. It is in this region that prominences appears. Prominences are immense clouds of glowing gas that erupt from the upper chromosphere. The outer region of the corona stretches far into space and consists of particles traveling slowly away from the Sun. The corona can only be seen during total solar eclipses.
The Sun appears to have been active for 4.6 billion years and has enough fuel to go on for another five billion years or so. At the end of its life, the Sun will start to fuse helium into heavier elements and begin to swell up, ultimately growing so large that it will swallow the Earth. After a billion years as a red giant, it will suddenly collapse into a white dwarf — the final end product of a star like ours. It may take a trillion years to cool off completely
Electromagnetic radiation consists of electrical and magnetic energy. The radiation can be thought of as waves of energy or as particle-like “packets” of energy called photons.
Visible light, infrared rays, and other forms of electromagnetic radiation differ in their energy. Six bands of energy span the entire spectrum (range) of electromagnetic energy. From the least energetic to the most energetic, they are: radio waves, infrared rays, visible light, ultraviolet rays, X rays, and gamma rays. Microwaves, which are high-energy radio waves, are sometimes considered to be a separate band. The sun emits radiation of each type in the spectrum.
The amount of energy in electromagnetic waves is directly related to their wavelength, the distance between successive wave crests. The more energetic the radiation, the shorter the wavelength. For example, gamma rays have shorter wavelengths than radio waves. The energy in an individual photon is related to the position of the photon in the spectrum. For instance, a gamma ray photon has more energy than a photon of radio energy.
All forms of electromagnetic radiation travel through space at the same speed, commonly known as the speed of light: 186,282 miles (299,792 kilometers) per second. At this rate, a photon emitted by the sun takes only about 8 minutes to reach Earth.
The amount of electromagnetic radiation from the sun that reaches the top of Earth’s atmosphere is known as the solar constant. This amount is about 1,370 watts per square meter. But only about 40 percent of the energy in this radiation reaches Earth’s surface. The atmosphere blocks some of the visible and infrared radiation, almost all the ultraviolet rays, and all the X rays and gamma rays. But nearly all the radio energy reaches Earth’s surface.
Protons and electrons flow continually outward from the sun in all directions as the solar wind. These particles come close to Earth, but Earth’s magnetic field prevents them from reaching the surface.
However, more intense concentrations of particles from flares and coronal mass ejections on the sun reach Earth’s atmosphere. These particles are known as solar cosmic rays. Most of them are protons, but they also include heavier nuclei as well as electrons. They are extremely energetic. As a result, they can be hazardous to astronauts in orbit or to orbiting satellites.
The cosmic rays cannot reach Earth’s surface. When they collide with atoms at the top of the atmosphere, they change into a shower of less energetic particles. But, because the solar events are so energetic, they can create geomagnetic storms, major disturbances in Earth’s magnetic field. The storms, in turn, can disrupt electrical equipment on Earth’s surface. For example, they can overload power lines, leading to blackouts.
OverPopulation is never a pleasant topic. Why? Well for so many reasons:
1. It is Anti-Capitalistic. Capitalism is founded on an unlimited growth model as is it’s hand maiden in literature – science fiction. Malthus sends Capitalists into a frenzy of “it ain’t so” denial. But if he is ultimately right, and our technology and science can not prevent our population from stabilizing at a set amount, then Capitalism is dead.
2. It is anti-religious. Almost every religion in the world preaches procreation. The idea has always been that the religion that has the most recruits will eventually become the ULTIMATE Religion. Which is the goal of course.
By Steven Duke Editor, One Planet, BBC World Service
LIVING ON A CROWDED EARTH
Current world population – 6.8bn
Net growth per day – 218,030
Forecast made for 2040 – 9bn
Source: US Census Bureau
There are already too many people living on Planet Earth, according to one of most influential science advisors in the US government.
Nina Fedoroff told the BBC One Planet programme that humans had exceeded the Earth’s “limits of sustainability”.
Dr Fedoroff has been the science and technology advisor to the US secretary of state since 2007, initially working with Condoleezza Rice.
Under the new Obama administration, she now advises Hillary Clinton.
“We need to continue to decrease the growth rate of the global population; the planet can’t support many more people,” Dr Fedoroff said, stressing the need for humans to become much better at managing “wild lands”, and in particular water supplies.
Pressed on whether she thought the world population was simply too high, Dr Fedoroff replied: “There are probably already too many people on the planet.”
3. OverPopulation is very male. Knowing that OverPopulation must end is very women centered. One of the most mysogynist impulses is religion’s and men’s impulse to control a woman’s womb. When women control their womb they produce 2 or 3 children which is just about right for their health and just about right for the planet. But over procreation has been the norm for the last 300 years and we are about to reap it’s wind.
Think the population explosion is over? Think again.
On or about October 12, 1999, human population is expected to reach 6 billion. While it took until about 1800 to reach the first billion, the trip from 5 billion to 6 will have required a mere 12 years. Those born in 1930 will have seen humankind triple within their lifetime.
That makes all the more surprising the strange take of the national media, which over the past few years have been full of stories like “The Population Explosion Is Over” (The New York Times Magazine) or “Now the Crisis Is Global Underpopulation” (Orange County Register). These contrarian stories are based on two recent demographic trends: fertility in nearly all developed nations has fallen below the population-stabilizing “replacement” rate (2.1 children per woman, where mortality is low), and fertility is declining in most of the developing world. These trends led the United Nations to revise its population projections, reflecting a slower rate of growth than previously forecast.
“Slower,” however, does not mean slow. At the current global growth rate, 1.5 million people–roughly a new metropolitan Milwaukee–are added every week. Despite fertility declines, birthrates in much of the world remain high. For example, Guatemala’s fertility is 5.1 children per woman, Laos and Pakistan’s 5.6, and Iraq’s 5.7. And those are not even the high end of the spectrum: Afghanistan’s fertility rate is 6.1. The 43 nations of East, West, and Central Africa average 6.0, 6.2, and 6.3 children per woman, respectively. Countries that have reduced their birthrate to three or four children per woman are also growing very rapidly. This is partly because of “population momentum,” in which earlier high fertility yields a large proportion of young people. Even fertility rates fractionally above replacement can perpetuate rapid growth.
What if every nation’s fertility stayed at its present level? Human population would exceed 50 billion by the year 2100–if the earth could support that many.
The UN “medium” projections (perhaps the most realistic) now assume that fertility in developing nations will fall to about 2.2 children per woman over roughly the next 30 years. Even so, world population would reach 8.9 billion by 2050. The 2.9 billion gain would itself equal the world’s entire human population in 1957.
Most future growth will occur in the most distressed regions of the earth, many of which are already experiencing severe deforestation, water shortages, and massive soil erosion. In the medium projections, sub-Saharan Africa’s present population of 630 million will more than double to 1.5 billion by 2050. By that time, Afghanistan, Egypt, Iraq, and Pakistan will also more than double, as will Bolivia, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Paraguay. Bangladesh will grow by two-thirds, and India will increase by more than half a billion persons to 1.5 billion.
4. OverPopulation harbors everyone’s worst fears about “State” control. That we will be prohibited to breed “for our own good” and that only the rich shall have kids. Which would your rather have a human die off of 6 billion people or a little self control?? But we are past that now. The die off will happen and the real issue is “what do we do when humans become food”…and once we get over the crash how do we stabilize the population. Many world leaders are thinking about this now. Shouldn’t you?
Overpopulation does not depend only on the size or density of the population, but on the ratio of population to available sustainable resources. If a given environment has a population of 10 individuals, but there is food or drinking water enough for only 9, then in a closed system where no trade is possible, that environment is overpopulated; if the population is 100 but there is enough food, shelter, and water for 200 for the indefinite future, then it is not overpopulated. Overpopulation can result from an increase in births, a decline in mortality rates due to medical advances, from an increase in immigration, or from an unsustainablebiome and depletion of resources. It is possible for very sparsely-populated areas to be overpopulated, as the area in question may have a meager or non-existent capability to sustain human life (e.g. the middle of the Sahara Desert or Antarctica).
The resources to be considered when evaluating whether an ecological niche is overpopulated include clean water, clean air, food, shelter, warmth, and other resources necessary to sustain life. If the quality of human life is addressed, there may be additional resources considered, such as medical care, education, proper sewage treatment and waste disposal. Overpopulation places competitive stress on the basic life sustaining resources, leading to a diminished quality of life.:}
CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida (Reuters) – NASA’s outreach to the public to drum up interest in the International Space Station started innocently enough with an online contest to name the station’s new living quarters.
But Stephen Colbert, a comedian who poses as an ultra right-wing news commentator on cable television’s Comedy Central, nosed into the act with a grass-roots appeal that has backed the staid U.S. space agency into a corner.
The comedian’s supporters cast 230,539 write-in votes to name the new module at the $100-billion space outpost “Colbert.” The top NASA-suggested name, “Serenity,” finished a distant second, more than 40,000 votes behind.
Contest rules stipulate that the agency retains the right to basically do whatever it wants, but it may not be that easy.
Last week, U.S. Representative Chaka Fattah, a Pennsylvania Democrat, called on NASA to do the democratic thing and use the name that drew the most votes.
“NASA decided to hold an election to name its new room at the International Space Station and the clear winner is Stephen Colbert,” Fattah said in a statement. “The people have spoken, and Stephen Colbert won it fair and square — even if his campaign was a bit over the top.”
NASA is taking some time to ponder its next move.
“We have a plan and we’re working with some folks and in a couple of weeks you’ll know what the answer is,” NASA’s associate administrator Bill Gerstenmaier said.