The Watering Hole, Monday, September 14th, 2015: ICYMI Grab Bag

While the “Christian” flavor of the right-wing-religious-nut-jobs have been hogging the limelight lately, there’s been more of ‘teh crazy’ happening over in the Mormon corner. According to an article by Peggy Fletcher Stack in last Thursday’s Salt Lake Tribune, many Mormons, in the belief that the signs are about right for doomsday to arrive, are starting preparations (these Mormons are referred to as “preppers.) Here’s a couple of excerpts from the article, titled “Some Mormons stocking up amid fears that doomsday could come this month”:

“Jordan Jensen, a salesman at Emergency Essentials, said his Bountiful store has been “crazy busy, sales up by definitely a large amount.”
Those 72-hour emergency kits are “almost impossible to keep on the shelves,” Jensen says, “and we get a shipment every day.” A lot of customers, he says, believe “this is the month it will all happen — with a ‘blood moon’ and a currency collapse and everything.”

Here’s how the doomsday scenario plays out: History, some preppers believe, is divided into seven-year periods…In 2008, seven years after 9/11, the stock market crashed, a harbinger of a devastating recession. It’s been seven years since then, and Wall Street has fluctuated wildly in recent weeks in the wake of China devaluing its currency. Thus, they believe, starting Sept. 13, the beginning of the Jewish High Holy Days, there will be another, even larger financial crisis, based on the United States’ “wickedness.” That would launch the “days of tribulation” — as described in the Bible. They say Sept. 28 will see a full, red or “blood moon” and a major earthquake in or near Utah. Some anticipate an invasion by U.N. troops, technological disruptions and decline, chaos and hysteria.

Some of these speculations stem from Julie Rowe’s books, “A Greater Tomorrow: My Journey Beyond the Veil” and “The Time Is Now.” Rowe, a Mormon mother of three, published the books in 2014 to detail a “near-death experience” in 2004, when the author says she visited the afterlife and was shown visions of the past and future. Though Rowe rarely gives specific dates for predicted events, she did describe in a Fox News Radio interview “cities of light,” including scores of white tents where people will live in the mountains and sometimes be fed heavenly “manna.” She saw a “bomb from Libya landing in Israel, but Iran will take credit.” And “Gadianton robbers” of Book of Mormon infamy, meaning secret and corrupt leaders, are “already here.”

Okay, that’s the crazy part–now for the scary-crazy part:

Her purpose in speaking out, Rowe told interviewer Kate Dalley, was “to wake more of us up. … We need each other as we unify in righteousness and continue to build a righteous army. When we need to defend the [U.S.] Constitution, we will be ready.”

Oh, great, another right-wing-religious-nut-job cult that doesn’t understand that the Constitution proscribes the very idea of their “righteous” religious rule. Then again, this particular zealot who is trying to build her “righteous army” may not have a whole army of followers:

“For the past year, the popular writer has been sharing her experience and visions at Mormon venues nationwide, drawing crowds of eager — and worried — listeners. Her two books have sold more than 20,000 copies apiece.”

Uh-huh, and probably all 40,000 books are sitting in a Newsmax warehouse or its religious-literature equivalent.

Next, from TheWeatherChannel, cool photos of volcanic ‘blue’ lava, taken by photographer Reuben Wu in East Java, Indonesia.

Last, NASA has some new photos of Pluto to share from New Horizons’ flyby of the “dwarf planet.” Photos of Pluto’s moons will be coming along soon.

This is our daily Open Thread–enjoy!

The Watering Hole, Monday, May 5th, 2014: Hubble, 24 and Going Strong

Last Thursday marked the 24th year in space for the Hubble telescope. After its inauspicious start, when it became obvious from the blurry images sent back that something was wrong with the telescope’s huge mirror, who’d have thought that we’d eventually be treated to beautiful and breathtaking images of star nurseries, a huge variety of nebulae, and glorious galaxies. The Weather Channel has a photo gallery of the top 100 images from the Hubble Telescope; here’s just a few from this amazing gallery:

Carina Nebula (NASA/ESA Hubble Heritage Team)

Carina Nebula (NASA/ESA Hubble Heritage Team)


Barred Spiral Galaxy NGC 1672 (NASA/ESA Hubble Heritage Team)

Barred Spiral Galaxy NGC 1672 (NASA/ESA Hubble Heritage Team)


Antennae Galaxies merging (NASA/ESA Hubble Heritage Team)

Antennae Galaxies merging (NASA/ESA Hubble Heritage Team)


Centaurus A, Taken with Hubble Wide Field Camera 3

Centaurus A, Taken with Hubble Wide Field Camera 3)


Orion Nebula, taken by Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS) (NASA/ESA Hubble Heritage Team)

Orion Nebula, taken by Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS) (NASA/ESA Hubble Heritage Team)

The mind-boggling size of these formations and their unimaginable distances from our tiny corner of the universe makes me feel about the size of a dust mote, and totally inconsequential.

This is our daily open thread–what’s on YOUR mind today?

The Watering Hole, Monday, November 11th, 2013: Amazing Space

8 New Photos from Chandra Observatory

8 New Photos from Chandra Observatory (photo composite courtesy of NASA)

A few weeks ago, NASA released eight new photographs taken by the Chandra X-Ray Observatory, a telescope launched in 1999. According to information from the Chandra website:

“This collection of images represents the thousands of observations that are permanently stored and accessible to the world in the Chandra Data Archive (CDA). This sample showcases the wide range of objects that Chandra has observed during its over 14-year mission, including the remains of exploded stars, cosmic nurseries where stars are being born, and galaxies both similar to our Milky Way and those that are much different. In each of these images, the Chandra data are blue or purple and have been combined with those from other wavelengths.”

The Chandra “Photo Album” offers hundreds of other amazing views into space courtesy of the Chandra telescope. A website that I ran across has more technical information on Chandra’s X-Ray photography, as well as more photos from other space-traveling and land-based telescopes. Images such as these, along with the glorious wonders opened to our view by the Hubble telescope and other sources, give me a vestige of hope that there is, somewhere in all that vastness, at lease one race of intelligent beings who are living in harmony with each other and their planet. I’d hate to think that Terran humans are the pinnacle of Nature’s creations.

This is our daily open thread, say anything!

The Watering Hole, Monday, September 16th, 2013: Monday Medley

As you are all aware, I love going to The Weather Channel online — not just to find out the local forecast, but for their unusual variety of photo galleries and and links to other interesting and frequently educational stories and news.

Today’s crop includes:

updates on the Voyager 1 probe (and be sure to scroll down for links to space photos from NASA’s Spitzer telescope, and photos of a newborn star from a Chilean telescope.)

– Photos of recent tornadoes, including (but not limited to) several photos taken last week from Kenosha, Wisconsin.

– Photos of lightning storms – check out two in particular that I liked, one called “Lightning Under the Stars” and one called “Fire In The Sky.”
Lightning_weather_Wallpaper_hflv9

– Photo gallery of the “10 Longest Bridges In the U.S.

– Photo gallery of “12 Spectacular Castles of the World

The Bojnice Castle in Bojnice, Slovakia

The Bojnice Castle in Bojnice, Slovakia

This is our Open Thread. Enjoy the views!

The Watering Hole, Saturday, August 31, 2013: The Naked Greenland

Just when you thought you knew what your planet looked like, along comes a surprise – there’s another canyon on our planet that rivals our own Grand Canyon. It’s in Greenland, and it was discovered by scientists using ice-penetrating radar and decades of data.

The canyon has the characteristics of a winding river channel and is at least 460 miles (750 kilometers) long, making it longer than the Grand Canyon. In some places, it is as deep as 2,600 feet (800 meters), on scale with segments of the Grand Canyon. This immense feature is thought to predate the ice sheet that has covered Greenland for the last few million years.

The scientists used thousands of miles of airborne radar data, collected by NASA and researchers from the United Kingdom and Germany over several decades, to piece together the landscape lying beneath the Greenland ice sheet.

As beautiful as I’m sure it looks, my fear is that we’ll be able to see what the canyon looks like, with the naked eye, in our lifetimes. Well, not the people living on the Eastern coast.

This is our daily open thread. Feel free to discuss canyons are any other topic you wish. And if you’re currently enjoying a three-day holiday weekend, you can thank Unions for that.

The Watering Hole, Monday, August 26th, 2013: “…Chad Everett?”

Way back when Comedy Central was just starting out as The Comedy Channel, The Higgins Boys and Gruber was one of the fledgling comedy shows (along with Short Attention Span Theater, hosted by a very young Jon Stewart, and Mystery Science Theater 3000* aka MST3K, with the inimitable Joel Hodgson.)   [*FYI, good news for MST3K fans at this link.]

One of the sketches on The Higgins Boys and Gruber that Wayne and I always remembered – well, besides the “Sex Survey” sketch – was their game-show spoof “$99,000 Pyramid.” They’re down to the last category in the Pyramid, and the clock is ticking down while one contestant is giving the other clues like “stars”, “suns”, “comets”, etc. The clock runs out while the contestant sputters without an answer. The host says to the disappointed contestant, “Now wait, before you turn around…what if I said…Chad Everett?” The contestant, who obviously had a light bulb go on inside his head, nods and responds with the correct answer, “Things in the Universe?

[…smooth segue…]

So here’s a fabulous photo of another one of those “Things in the Universe”, the “Cinderella’s Slipper Galaxy”, part of a ‘space photo of the day‘ series [scroll down past the picture on the link for hundreds more amazing photos, as well as commentary about the photo] from wired.com. Slate’s Phil Plait wrote about it back on April 2nd, and apparently one of Plait’s Twitter followers suggested the “Cinderella’ Slipper” name.

Cinderella's Slipper Galaxy--Image: ESA/Hubble & NASA, M. Hayes

Cinderella’s Slipper Galaxy–Image: ESA/Hubble & NASA, M. Hayes

I like what Phil Plait says at the end of his article:

“I find it fascinating that the Universe is so accommodating to our inquisitive nature. It leaves clues everywhere about itself, and all you need to learn about it is a bit of math and physics, technology, and above all curiosity. With those features in combination, the entire cosmos can be revealed.”

This is our daily open thread — talk away now, don’t be shy!

The Very Watery Whole, Monday, October 29th, 2012: Heeeeere’s SANDY!

-Hurricane Sandy, photo courtesy of NASA

As of this writing, Hurricane Sandy is hitting parts of New Jersey. Up here in Dutchess County, New York, we’re already starting to get some wind gusts, bringing down what’s left of our leaves, but the brunt of Sandy will not hit us for several hours. On the other hand, New York City is already all but closed down, and, according to a blurb on TWC, the inimitable Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey says “Don’t be stupid, get out!” Reservoir levels in New Jersey and southern New York have been lowered several feet in advance of the storm to help avoid overflows, but a Weather Channel shot of a local lake beach a bit southwest of us in Putnam County showed the water up several feet past the lifeguard’s chair.

For more information on the size and possible effects of Hurricane Sandy, here’s an article from The Weather Channel online. Forecasts include very heavy rains in the coastal and slightly inland areas, but huge swaths of Pennsylvania could get anywhere from several inches to two feet of snow.

You know that this hurricane is a huge one when it even eclipses talk of the upcoming election. To all of our friends in the path of this storm, please STAY SAFE!

This is our daily open thread–let’s talk!

The Watering Hole: Wednesday, August 8, 2012: Hump Day! Now What!

This post is being written as NASA gives its first press conference following the successful landing of Curiosity on Mars.

At this point, this author will look into his crystal ball and report the following stories now, ahead of them happening in real time, to be revealed later, when they have already occured.

Republicans were quick to give George Bush full credit for the Curiosity landing. This program began 8 years ago, when Bush was President, therefore He gets full credit for its success.

Republicans were also quick to blame Obama for Curiosity’s failure. Two days have gone by, and Curiosity failed to find proof of life on Mars. Christian leaders across the evangelical spectrum blamed Obama for seeking out new life forms, when God only created life on Earth. “Life on Mars goes against the Bible.” one editorial proclaimed.

But this Mars landing has created a bit of a rift within the extremes of the Right Wing. On the one hand, many consider this to be part of a plot to bring Communism to the United States. Mars is the Red Planet, and by going to Mars, Obama has aligned himself with the Red Menace, i.e. communism.

But others take a different view. Mars is Red, just as Conservative States are Red. Bush, in sending this Rover to Mars has staked out a new frontier for conservatives in our solar system. These forward-looking conservatives look to the day when Mars’ electoral votes secure a permanent conservative majority in the solar system forever. However, it did not escape their notice that all of the NASA scientists were wearing blue…

Meanwhile, Republicans in the House and Senate have introduced bills to eliminate funding for the Curiosity program. We need jobs here in the United States, not on Mars. People working in goverment jobs such as NASA aren’t working in real jobs. One alternative bill seeks to privatize NASA, with Halliburton purportedly backing the effort.

THIS IS OUR OPEN THREAD, WE GO BOLDLY WHERE NO BLOG HAS GONE BEFORE, TO REPORT THE NEWS BEFORE IT HAPPENS, AFTER IT HAPPENS

The Watering Hole – Saturday, Aug 4th, 2012 – Seven Minutes of Terror

In honor of Walt the Man, I have chosen to write about the upcoming Mars Curiosity rover landing. I’m sure Walt would have chosen that topic if he were writing this Saturday’s post, and it would have been far more informational and educational. Enjoy the view from up there, Walt.

Something wonderful is about to happen. On Monday morning, the Mars Science Laboratory will, if all goes according to some very meticulous planning, drop Curiosity, the next Mars rover, onto the surface of Mars. While they will stop sending signals to the MSL two hours before the landing, it is the seven minutes it will take for the spacecraft to execute its landing instructions that have NASA scientists nervous. Earth is fourteen minutes away from Mars via radio telemetry signal, so there is no way to correct anything should it go wrong. I’m sure our crack staff at The Zoo will keep you informed as the landing time approaches.

UPDATE: I said Monday morning, but it will happen on Sunday night if you live on the West Coast. 10:30 PM Sunday night, or 1:30 AM Monday morning.

UPDATE: For more info on Mars, TheWeatherChannel has “5 Things You May Not Know About Mars” and Mars photos.

This is our open thread. Feel free to discuss any topic you want.

MORE 8/5: Additional info from TheWeatherChannel.

The Watering Hole, Thursday, December 8th: There’s Someplace Like Home?

Kepler-22b

Kepler-22-b - "Goldilocks" Planet? (Artist's rendering provided by NASA)

Nasa’s Kepler telescope, whose specific mission is to explore strange new worlds – er, uh, to seek out possible Earth-like planets, has already discovered more than 1000 new exoplanets (outside of our solar system.) One planet, which made news earlier this year, was dubbed “Tatooine”, as it revolves around twin suns. The Planet Habitability Laboratory has an online catalogue of such discoveries, and a current update now lists Kepler-22-b, featured as part of the First Kepler Scientific Conference.

Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson, the popular astrophysicist at the American Museum of Natural History in New York, had met the team of NASA scientists at Ames Research Center earlier this week. In an interview with The Weather Channel, Dr. Tyson stated that Kepler-22-b “is the first Earth-like planet in a Goldilocks zone around a sun-like star. This one hits a check in every box.” Exciting news, indeed. Unfortunately, Kepler-22-b is 600 light-years from Earth, and as Dr. Tyson says, “The fastest spacecraft we have ever launched would take 50,000 years to get to Kepler-22b.”  When asked in The Weather Channel interview, “Given the population explosion and impact on the environment, would inhabiting another planet give humankind a chance to start over?“, Dr. Tyson responded:

“After we mess up this planet go move to another one? If you had the power to move to another planet then you’ve got the power to fix your own planet. I’m much more in favor of thinking of other planets as a place to expand to, not a place to escape to because we’ve trashed Earth…don’t think of it as an escape hatch.”

Damn! I was really hoping that the science of cryogenics might advance enough within my lifetime that I could be frozen, then sent to Kepler-22-b and thawed in order to request political asylum from any ‘overlords’ there may be on this possible new home.

Natural Magnetic Fields Revealed As Chaotic

Natural magnetic fields are revealed as chaotic, ever-changing geometries as scientists from NASA’s Space Sciences Laboratory excitedly describe their discoveries.

The secret lives of invisible magnetic fields are revealed as chaotic, ever-changing geometries. All action takes place around NASA’s Space Sciences Laboratory, UC Berkeley, to recordings of space scientists describing their discoveries. Actual VLF audio recordings control the evolution of the fields as they delve into our inaudible surroundings, revealing recurrent ‘whistlers’ produced by fleeting electrons.

This is a really interesting video that I thought all the science enthusiasts, like myself, would enjoy. The audio isn’t grainy it’s the noise generated by the magnetic fields.

This video is by ascarida.

I Love Naming Contests

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (or NAMBLA NASA), recently held a contest to choose the name of a new section of the space station.

NASA is deciding on a name for the International Space Station’s Node 3 – a connecting module and its cupola – before the two segments travel to space and are installed on the orbiting laboratory. The name should reflect the spirit of exploration and cooperation embodied by the space station, and follow in the tradition set by Node 1- Unity- and Node 2- Harmony.

They offered four choices Continue reading