Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Solar Wind Arrives Early


Source - Space Weather News for March 21, 2017: http://spaceweather.com

SOLAR WIND ARRIVES EARLY: Arriving a day earlier than expected, a stream of fast-moving solar wind is buffeting Earth's magnetic field today. The broad stream is expected to influence our planet for the next three days with a 60% chance of polar geomagnetic storms between now and March 23rd. Arctic sky watchers should be alert for auroras in the waxing Spring twilight.

Visit Spaceweather.com for more information and updates.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Sunspot Counts Drop to 7-Year Low


Source - Space Weather News for March 19, 2017: http://spaceweather.com

SUNSPOT COUNTS HIT 7-YEAR LOW: The face of the sun has been blank (no sunspots) for 13 consecutive days. The last time this happened was in April of 2010, near the end of an historically deep Solar Minimum.  The current stretch of blank suns heralds a new Solar Minimum expected to arrive in 2019-2020.  What does this mean for space weather? Answers may be found on today's edition of Spaceweather.com

VENUS AT INFERIOR CONJUNCTION: This week, Venus will pass almost directly between Earth and the sun--an event astronomers call "inferior solar conjunction."  As it turns its night side to Earth, the planetary disk of Venus is transforming into an exquisitely slender crescent easily seen through small telescopes or binoculars.  Visit Spaceweather.com for photos and observing tips.

Big Picture Science for Monday March 20, 2017 - Born Legacy












Big Picture Science - Born Legacy

We know how the stars shine, but how do you make a star?  We take an all-night ride on a high-flying jet – an airborne observatory called SOFIA – to watch astronomers investigate how a star is born.

As for how the universe was born, we know about the Big Bang but modern physics suggests that similar cosmic explosions may be happening all the time, and even hint that we could – in principle – create a new universe in a laboratory.  What does this mean, and how could we do it?

From stars to universes, how it all came to be.

Guests:
  • Zeeya Merali – Journalist and editor for the Foundational Questions Institute, author of A Big Bang in a Little Room: The Quest to Create New Universes
  • Nick Veronico – Manager of SOFIA Communications for NASA Ames Research Center and Universities Space Research Association
  • Felix Reimann – Freelance photographer
  • Huub Rottgering – Director of Leiden Observatory, The Netherlands
  • Dietmar Lilienthal – Manager, DLR SOFIA Institute, Germany
  • Cornelia Pabst – Astronomer, Leiden Observatory, The Netherlands
  • Charlie Kaminski – Engineering and Maintenance Manager, SOFIA
  • David McAllister – Deputy Program Manager for Operations, SOFIA, NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center

Download postcast at - http://bigpicturescience.org/episodes/born-legacy

You can listen to this and other episodes at http://bigpicturescience.org/, and be sure to check out Blog Picture Science, the companion blog to the radio show.

Neutrons on a Plane


Source - Space Weather News for March 18, 2017: http://spaceweather.com

NEUTRONS ON A PLANE: Researchers have long known that air travelers are exposed to cosmic rays on board commercial aircraft. Indeed, pilots are classified as "occupational radiation workers." Two days ago, Spaceweather.com and the students of Earth to Sky Calculus took a pair of bubble chambers onboard a flight from Sweden to the USA and detected a significant number of neutrons in the passenger compartment. This confirms that neutrons are an important form of aviation radiation. Read more about it on today's edition of Spaceweather.com

SOLAR WIND ADVISORY: A hole has opened in the sun's atmosphere and it is spewing a stream of solar wind toward Earth. The stream's arrival on March 23rd could spark the first auroras of northern spring. Monitor the realtime aurora gallery for sightings.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Big Picture Science for Monday March 13, 2017 - What Have You Got To Move?












Big Picture Science - What Have You Got To Move?

Whether they swim, slither, jump, or fly, animal locomotion is more than just an urge to roam: it’s necessary for survival.  Evolution has come up with ingenious schemes to get from here to there.  Hear how backbones evolved as a consequence of fish needing to wag their fins, and why no animals have wheels.

Motion is more than locomotion. Test the physics of movement in your kitchen and find out what popping corn has in common with the first steam engine.

And while physics insists that atoms are always moving, find how what happens to these basic building blocks when placed in the coldest spot in the universe.  The Cold Atom Laboratory chills material to nearly absolute zero, creating some weird superfluid effects as atoms slow down.

Guests:

Download podcast at - http://bigpicturescience.org/episodes/what-have-you-got-move

You can listen to this and other episodes at http://bigpicturescience.org/, and be sure to check out Blog Picture Science, the companion blog to the radio show.

Sunday, March 05, 2017

Big Picture Science for Monday March 6, 2017 - Cosmic Conundra












Big Picture Science - Cosmic Conundra

ENCORE:  Admit it – the universe is cool, but weird.  Just when you think you’ve tallied up all the peculiar phenomena that the cosmos has to offer – it throws more at you. We examine some of the recent perplexing finds.

Could massive asteroid impacts be as predictable as phases of the moon?  Speaking of moons – why are some of Pluto’s spinning like turbine-powered pinwheels?  Plus, we examine a scientist’s claim of evidence for parallel universes.

And, could the light patterns from a distant star be caused by alien mega-structures?

Guests:
  • Mike Rampino -  Professor of biology and environmental studies at New York University
  • Mark Showalter  - Senior research scientist at the SETI Institute in Mountain View, California
  • Ranga-Ram Chary - Astronomer, U.S. Planck Data Center, California Institute of Technology

This encore podcast was first released on Monday, ‎December ‎07, ‎2015

Download postcast at - http://bigpicturescience.org/episodes/cosmic-conundra

You can listen to this and other episodes at http://bigpicturescience.org/, and be sure to check out Blog Picture Science, the companion blog to the radio show.

Saturday, March 04, 2017

"Aurora Sprites" Sighted over New Zealand


Source - Space Weather News for March 4, 2017: http://spaceweather.com

"AURORA SPRITES" SIGHTED OVER NEW ZEALAND:  For the past few days, Earth has been moving through a stream of solar wind gusting with speeds of 700+ km/s.  Last night in New Zealand, the stream produced an unusual display of "aurora sprites" above the Otago Peninsula.  Visit Spaceweather.com to see the apparition and to learn what probably caused it.

ARCTIC SPACE WEATHER BALLOON LAUNCH: This coming week, Spaceweather.com will be flying to Sweden with a group of student researchers to launch a series of space weather balloons inside the Arctic Circle.  Near-simultaneous launches in the USA and Chile will allow us to probe the global response of our planet to rising levels of cosmic radiation in the inner solar system.  Today's edition of Spaceweather.com highlights the science of this mission--and whets our appetite for some very unusual photos of the Northern Lights.

Wednesday, March 01, 2017

Geomagnetic Storm in Progress


Source - Space Weather News for March 1, 2017: http://spaceweather.com

GEOMAGNETIC STORM: A G1-class polar geomagnetic storm is in progress on March 1st as Earth enters a fast-moving stream of solar wind.  This is sparking bright auroras around the Arctic Circle. The solar wind is flowing from a large canyon-shaped hole in the sun's atmosphere and is expected to influence Earth for the next two days.

Visit Spaceweather.com for more information and updates.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Geomagnetic Storm Likely This Week


Source - Space Weather News for Feb. 27, 2017: http://spaceweather.com

SOLAR WIND, INCOMING: A canyon-shaped hole in the sun's atmosphere is spewing a stream of solar wind toward Earth. Polar geomagnetic storms could begin as early as Feb. 28th when the leading edge of the stream reaches our planet. NOAA forecasters estimate a 60% chance of G1-class storms on March 1st when Earth is fully enveloped by the fast-moving solar wind. More information @ Spaceweather.com

SUNSET PLANETS: When the sun goes down tonight, step outside and look west.  The skinny crescent Moon is approaching Venus for a side-by-side gathering on Feb. 28th. 

Visit Spaceweather.com for sky maps.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Big Picture Science for Monday February 27, 2017 - Skeptic Check: Not So Sweet












Big Picture Science - Skeptic Check: Not So Sweet

Obesity, diabetes, heart disease … maybe even Alzheimer’s.  Could these modern scourges have a common denominator?  Some people believe they do: sugar.

But is this accusation warranted?  We talk with a journalist who has spent two decades reporting on nutrition science, and while he says there’s still not definitive proof that sugar makes us sick, he can make a strong case for it.

Also, how a half-century ago the sugar industry secretly paid Harvard scientists to shift the culprit for heart disease from their product to dietary fat.  We hear how the companies borrowed from the playbook of Big Tobacco.

So is your sweet tooth a threat to your health?

Guests:

Download postcast at - http://bigpicturescience.org/episodes/skeptic-check-not-so-sweet

You can listen to this and other episodes at http://bigpicturescience.org/, and be sure to check out Blog Picture Science, the companion blog to the radio show.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

"Ring of Fire" Solar Eclipse on Feb. 26th


Source - Space Weather News for Feb 25, 2017: http://spaceweather.com

"RING OF FIRE" SOLAR ECLIPSE: Something strange is about to happen to sunbeams in the southern hemisphere. On Sunday, Feb. 26th, the Moon will pass directly in front of the sun, covering as much as 99% of the solar disk.  This will turn the sun into a "ring of fire" over parts of South America and Africa. Crescent-shaped sunbeams and thin rings of light will dance across the ground of more than a dozen countries. 

Visit Spaceweather.com for more information and photos.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Solar Wind Advisory


Source - Space Weather News for Feb. 22, 2017: http://spaceweather.com

SOLAR WIND ADVISORY: Earth is about to enter a stream of solar wind flowing from a hole in the sun's atmosphere. NOAA forecasters estimate a 60% chance of polar geomagnetic storms on Feb. 23rd as the solar wind speed quickens to 550 km/s or more. Arctic sky watchers should be alert for auroras on Thursday and Friday nights. Updates and sightings @ Spaceweather.com

AURORA ROCKET LAUNCH: On Feb. 22nd, researchers from Dartmouth College launched a rocket directly into auroras dancing above Alaska. See the launch and find out why they did it on today's edition of Spaceweather.com.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

A Gash in the Sun's Atmosphere


Source - Space Weather News for Feb 19, 2017: http://spaceweather.com

A GASH IN THE SUN'S ATMOSPHERE: An unusually wide and sinuous hole has opened in the sun's atmosphere, and it is stretching like a gash across the sun's southern hemisphere. A roughly fan-shaped stream of solar wind flowing from the hole is gently buffeting Earth's magnetic field, and it could keep polar magnetic fields in an unsettled state for the rest of February.  Long range forecasts suggest the month could end with a moderately strong (G2-class) geomagnetic storm. This is all good news for Arctic sky watchers, who can expect regular episodes of Northern Lights in the nights ahead.

Visit today's edition of Spaceweather.com for more information and sightings.

Big Picture Science for Monday February 20, 2017 - Thinking About Thinking












Big Picture Science - Thinking About Thinking

ENCORE: Congratulations, you have a big brain.  Evolution was good to Homo sapiens.  But make some room on the dais.  Research shows that other animals, such as crows, may not look smart, but can solve complex problems.

Meanwhile human engineers are busily developing cogitating machines.   Intelligent entities abound – but are they all capable of actual thought?

Hear how crows fashion tools from new materials and can recognize you by sight.  Also, how an IBM computer may one day outthink the engineers who designed it.

Plus, scientists who simulated a rat brain in a computer, neuron-by-neuron, look ahead to modeling the human brain.  And, what brain disorders teach us about the brain and our sense of self.

Guests:

This encore podcast was first released on November 9, 2105

Download this podcast at - http://bigpicturescience.org/episodes/thinking-about-thinking

You can listen to this and other episodes at http://bigpicturescience.org/, and be sure to check out Blog Picture Science, the companion blog to the radio show.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Amazing Display of Colorful Clouds in the Arctic Stratosphere


Source - Space Weather News for Feb 13th, 2017: http://spaceweather.com

AMAZING POLAR STRATOSPHERIC CLOUDS: Around the Arctic Circle, veteran sky watchers are reporting a remarkable outbreak of polar stratospheric clouds (PSCs).  Floating high above Earth's surface in the normally transparent stratosphere, PSCs have filled the sky with brilliant colors that rival the aurora borealis. Some longtime residents of northern Sweden say it's the best display they've ever seen, continuing a trend in recent years of intensifying PSC activity.

Visit today's edition of Spaceweather.com to view photos of the outbreak and to learn more about these must-see wonders of the Arctic.


















Above: Polar stratospheric clouds over Kiruna, Sweden, photographed by Mia Stålnacke on Feb. 13, 2017. Browse the photo gallery for more sightings