Earth's polar magnetic field is storming as our planet passes through a
region of south-pointing magnetism in the solar wind. Last night (Aug. 26-27),
observers around the Arctic Circle saw some of their first auroras in
months and Northern Lights descended across the Canadian border into
multiple US states. Solar wind conditions favor more geomagnetic storms
and high-latitude auroras on Aug. 27-28. Check http://spaceweather.com for more information and updates.
The light bulb needs changing.
Edison’s incandescent bulb, virtually unaltered for more than a century, is now
being eclipsed by the LED. The creative applications for these small and
efficient devices are endless: on tape, on wallpaper, even in contact
lenses. They will set the world aglow. But is a brighter world a
Discover the many ingenious
applications for LEDs and the brilliance of the 19th century scientist, James
Clerk Maxwell, who first discovered just what light is. But both
biologists and astronomers are alarmed by the disappearance of
dark. Find out how light pollution is making us and other animals
sick and – when was the last time you saw a starry night?
• Ian Ferguson – Engineer,
dean of the College of Engineering and Computing, Missouri University of
Science and Technology
• Jay Neitz – Professor,
department of ophthalmology, University of Washington
• Martin Hendry - Professor, gravitational astrophysics and cosmology,
University of Glasgow
• John Barentine - Program manager, International Dark Sky Association
This month, astronauts onboard the International Space Station have
witnessed exotic forms of lightning that reach up from thunderclouds
near Earth's surface all the way to the edge of space. Their
photographs of "sprites" and "trolls" dancing over Mexico are a
must-see. These forms can been seen from Earth's surface, too.
Source - Space Weather News for Aug. 14, 2015: http://spaceweather.com
GIGANTIC JETS OVER HURRICANE HILDA: A rare form of upward lightning that
reaches almost to the edge of space has been observed shooting up from
Hurricane Hilda as the storm approaches Hawaii. See the video and learn
more about these "gigantic jets" on today's edition of http://spaceweather.com
INFERIOR CONJUNCTION OF VENUS: The planet Venus is turning into a
whisper-thin crescent as it passes almost directly between the Earth and
Sun this weekend. Photos and observing tips are available on http://spaceweather.com
This week, Earth passes through a stream of debris from Comet
Swift-Tuttle, source of the annual Perseid meteor shower. Forecasters
say the show could be especially good because the Moon is nearly new
when the shower peaks on Aug. 12-13.
Ever gone bungee jumping on
Venus? Of course not. No one has. However your
great-great-great grandchildren might find themselves packing for the cloudy
planet … or for another locale in our cosmic backyard. That’s what we picture
as we accelerate our imagination to escape velocity and beyond – and tour
vacation spots that are out of this world.
An enormous mountain and an
impressive canyon await you on Mars. If the outer solar system is more
your thing, consider making a ten minute free-fall on Miranda, a moon of
Uranus, or step up to the challenge of playing catch on an asteroid..
Also, just opened up: Pluto. A member
of the New Horizons science team describes why the dwarf planet could be a
holiday haven. Bring your crampons for ice climbing!
PERSEID FIREBALLS: One meteor shower produces more fireballs than any
other--and it's underway now. Earth is entering a stream of debris from
Comet Swift-Tuttle, source of the annual Perseid meteor shower. NASA
all-sky cameras are detecting an increasing number of Perseid fireballs
as the shower's peak approaches on Aug. 12-13.
The moon jellyfish has remarkable
approach to self-repair. If it loses a limb, it rearranges its remaining
body parts to once again become radially symmetric. Humans can’t do that,
but a new approach that combines biology with nanotechnology could give our
immune systems a boost. Would you drink a beaker of nanobots if they
could help you fight cancer?
Also, materials science gets into
self-healing with a novel concrete that fixes its own cracks.
Plus, why even the most adaptive
systems can be stretched to their limit. New research suggests that the
oceans will take a millennium to recover from climate change.
TRANSCONTINENTAL SPACE WEATHER BALLOON EXPERIMENT: Last week,
Spaceweather.com and the students of Earth to Sky Calculus conducted a
unique experiment in atmospheric radiation involving airplanes and
high-altitude balloons launched simultaneously almost 3000 miles apart.
For the next five days, we will be highlighting some of the results.
The news kicks off with some interesting measurements of cosmic
radiation inside a commercial passenger jet. Visit http://spaceweather.com for details.
BLUE MOON: There's a full Moon this week and according to modern
folklore it is a "Blue Moon." Most Blue Moons are gray, as usual, but
sometimes a Blue Moon can really turn blue. Find out more about this
phenomenon in today's edition of http://spaceweather.com
ENCORE: Nuclear fission powers the Sun. Or is it fusion?
At any rate, helium is burned in the process, of that you are certain. After
all, you read that article on astronomy last week*.
You know what you know. But you probably don’t
know what you don’t know. Few of us do. Scientists say we’re spectacularly
incompetent at recognizing our own incompetency, and that sometimes leads to
Find out why wrongness is the by-product of big
brains and why even scientists – gasp! – are not immune. Plus, a peek into the
trash bin of history: the biggest scientific blunders and the
brighter-than-bright brains that made them. Including Einstein.
*Oh, and the Sun burns hydrogen to produce
helium. But then, you knew that.
“If it bleeds, it leads” is the tried
and true tenet of news. Indeed, headlines are often no more than a long
list of moral atrocities. Yet one man argues that we’re living in the
most civilized era in history. And he credits this to scientific thought
Hang on! Our executive function
isn’t enough to promote ethical behavior, says a psychologist. The real
fuel behind our drive to be good? Anger, compassion, pride: your
But whether or not you’re a pillar of
the community, good intentions might all be for naught when future ethical
decisions are made by our silicon successors. Get ready for moral
machines. Or not.
SPACE WEATHER ON PLUTO: As NASA's New Horizons spacecraft prepares to buzz Pluto on July 14th,
space weather forecasters have released long distance predictions for
the distant dwarf planet. A region of merged CMEs could be on the verge
of hitting Pluto and compressing its atmosphere, but this is expected
to happen well after the flyby. Meanwhile, New Horizons has just taken
its best picture of Pluto's farside, which is dotted with mysterious
dark spots. Check http://spaceweather.com for more information.
AURORA ALERTS: On July 10th and 11th, a G1-class geomagnetic storm
sparked auroras over multiple US states including Michigan, Vermont,
Maine, Massachusetts and the Dakotas.