Sun to Flip its Magnetic Field Soon

August 7, 2013 § Leave a comment

The sun’s magnetic field is expected to flip in the next three to four months and it could lead to changes in our climate, storms and disruption to satellites.

This solar event only happens once every 11 years and signals what physicists call the Solar Maximum – a time when the Sun’s solar activity is at its highest.

During this peak in activity the outbursts of solar energy can increase the amount of cosmic and UV rays coming towards Earth and this can interfere with radio communications, cause solar bursts of light – known as flares – and can affect the planet’s temperature.

via Mail Online.

No one tell Al Gore that it’s really the sun that affects the Earth’s temperature.  Oh, let’s hope the “flip” is particularly violent, like it was in 1859.

On a cool September night in 1859, campers out in Colorado were roused from sleep by a “light so bright that one could easily read common print,” as one newspaper described it. Some of them, confused, got up and began making breakfast.

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Click on the picture for a full map showing how space weather can affect the Earth.

Farther east, thousands of New Yorkers ran out onto their sidewalks to watch the sky glow, ribboned in yellow, white and crimson. Few people had ever seen an aurora that far south — and this one lit up the whole city.

At the time, it was a dazzling display of nature. Yet if the same thing happened today, it would be an utter catastrophe.

The auroras of 1859, known as the “Carrington Event,” came after the sun unleashed a large coronal mass ejection, a burst of charged plasma aimed directly at the Earth. When the particles hit our magnetosphere, they triggered an especially fierce geomagnetic storm that lit up the sky and frazzled communication wires around the world. Telegraphs in Philadelphia were spitting out “fantastical and unreadable messages,” one paper reported, with some systems unusable for hours.

Today, electric utilities and the insurance industry are grappling with a scary possibility. A solar storm on the scale of that in 1859 would wreak havoc on power grids, pipelines and satellites. In the worst case, it could leave 20 million to 40 million people in the Northeast without power — possibly for years — as utilities struggled to replace thousands of fried transformers stretching from Washington to Boston. Chaos and riots might ensue.

via. Washington Post.

Wouldn’t that  be interesting?

 

 

Feds Ask Web Firms For Account Passwords

July 25, 2013 § Leave a comment

The U.S. government has demanded that major Internet companies divulge users’ stored passwords, according to two industry sources familiar with these orders, which represent an escalation in surveillance techniques that has not previously been disclosed.

If the government is able to determine a person’s password, which is typically stored in encrypted form, the credential could be used to log in to an account to peruse confidential correspondence or even impersonate the user. Obtaining it also would aid in deciphering encrypted devices in situations where passwords are reused.  …

Some of the government orders demand not only a user’s password but also the encryption algorithm and the so-called salt, according to a person familiar with the requests. A salt is a random string of letters or numbers used to make it more difficult to reverse the encryption process and determine the original password. Other orders demand the secret question codes often associated with user accounts.

via CNET News.

Well this sure has gotten ridiculous.

Lockheed Martin’s Desalination Graphene Filters

March 23, 2013 § Leave a comment

Lockheed has developed a special material that doesn’t need as much energy to drag water through the filter.

Graphene is a substance made of pure carbon. Carbon atoms are arranged in a regular hexagonal or honeycomb pattern in a one-atom thick sheet.

This special material is a film of a special structure of carbon, a honeycomb lattice called graphene. Because of its structure, the sheet is dotted with holes that are one nanometer or less. These holes between carbon atoms trap the salt and other impurities.

Graphene researchers won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2010 for developing the wonder-material.

In addition, the film is super thin — just a single atom thick — so that the water simply “pops through the very, very small holes that we make in the graphene and leaves the salt behind,” John Stetson, the chief technologist at Lockheed for this initiative told Business Insider.

via Business Insider.

Very cool.  Good… Great news for developing countries and ocean going vessels.  Hopefully it will lead to cheap, easy to use water filtration products for everyone to use.  Can’t live without drinkable water.

Bacteria Creates Microscopic Gold Nuggets

February 8, 2013 § Leave a comment

Among the more peculiar organisms that inhabit our Earth exists a bacterium that turns water-soluble gold into microscopic nuggets of solid gold, scientists said Sunday.  …

The answer, suggest researchers in Canada, lies in a molecule excreted by the microbe that both shields the organism and transforms the poisonous ions into particles.”This finding is the first demonstration that a secreted metabolite can protect against toxic gold and cause gold biomineralisation,” the process by which living organisms produce minerals, they wrote in the journal Nature Chemical Biology.

The molecule, delftibactin A, is capable of achieving this feat within seconds in pH-neutral conditions at room temperature.

Study co-author Nathan Magarvey of Ontario’s McMaster University told AFP the study was not designed to show whether it would be viable to use germs to grow gold from water in the lab.

But such processes seem “distinctly possible,” he said in an email exchange.

via Business Insider.

Nature Rocks!!

Lewis and Clark’s Air Rifle

January 31, 2013 § Leave a comment

An 8 minute history lesson about the power of an air rifle.

Plastic Bulb Promises Better Quality Light

December 3, 2012 § Leave a comment

The new light source is called field-induced polymer electroluminescent Fipel technology. It is made from three layers of white-emitting polymer that contain a small volume of nanomaterials that glow when electric current is passed through them.

The inventor of the device is Dr David Carroll, professor of physics at Wake Forest University in North Carolina. He says the new plastic lighting source can be made into any shape, and it produces a better quality of light than compact fluorescent bulbs which have become very popular in recent years.

Wake university researcher with light The new light source is said to be twice as efficient as fluorescent bulbs”They have a bluish, harsh tint to them, ” he told BBC News, “it is not really accommodating to the human eye; people complain of headaches and the reason is the spectral content of that light doesn’t match the Sun – our device can match the solar spectrum perfectly.

“I’m saying we are brighter than one of these curly cube bulbs and I can give you any tint to that white light that you want.”

via BBC News.

Sounds cool.

A General Lack of Regard for Einstein’s Brain

November 27, 2012 § Leave a comment

There’s a story about Einstein’s brain over at the Washington Post.  It’s your basic nature vs. nurture about how this guy got to have this unique piece of gray matter between his ears.

It appears quite a few Wash. Post readers don’t think much of Ol’ Albert or his accomplishments.  One particular genius wrote:

He didn’t invent, or come up with, relativity. That has existed since time began … he was the person that first -realized- it existed and then fashioned working mathematical relationships to describe it. If it wasn’t Albert Einstein, it would have been someone else that first put 2 and 2 together ….

Brilliant!!  Because yes, yes, the work Einstein did is really nothing more than 2 + 2.

This leads another commenter to write something I’ve thought for a long time:

So amusing to read the pronouncments of our typical modern day (Obongo supporting) clueless clowns with a little knowlege passing judgment on one of mankind’s greatest thinkers. Utterly underserved confidence in the most meager of abilities has been the only discernible triumph of the US liberal dominated dysfunctional education system in the last 50 years.

via The Washington Post.

The combination of arrogance and ignorance is very dangerous and  has infected a significant portion of the population.  People — you know who you are — have become so enamored with themselves that they either cannot or simply refuse to see real genius in others.

I’ve taken four college semesters of calculus ending with differential equations.  These classes would not begin to cover the mathematics that Einstein did without the assistance of a computer or even a hand-held calculator.  To imply that just anyone would come along and discover 2 + 2 shows just how little the average person walking down the street actually knows about math.

It’s very very sad.  Ignorance is truly bliss; but at least years ago people knew enough to keep their trap shut when they didn’t know anything.

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