METEOR OUTBURST: The Canadian Meteor Orbit Radar is detecting echoes
from a meteor outburst in the constellation Andromeda, in progress on
Dec. 8th. It appears to be debris from old Comet Biela, which broke
apart in the 19th century. Observers in the northern hemisphere,
especially Europeans, should be alert for Andromedid meteors on the
night of Dec. 8-9. More information may be found at http://spaceweather.com.
GEOMAGNETIC STORM: A solar wind stream hit Earth's magnetic field on
Dec. 7th, sparking an unexpected geomagnetic storm and Northern Lights
over numerous US states. NOAA forecasters estimate a 35% chance of
additional storms on Dec. 8th and 9th.
Monsters don’t exist. Except when they do. And extinction is
forever, except when it isn’t. So, which animals are mythical and which
are in hiding?
Bigfoot sightings are plentiful, but real evidence for the hirsute
creature is a big zilch. Yet, the coelacanth, a predatory fish thought
extinct, actually lives. Today, its genome is offering clues as to how
and when our fishy ancestors first flopped onto land.
Meanwhile, the ivory-billed woodpecker assumes mythic status as it
flutters between existence and extinction. And, from passenger pigeons
to the wooly mammoth, hi-tech genetics may imitate Jurassic Park, and
bring back vanished animals.
In full view of the NASA-ESA solar physics fleet, Comet ISON
disintegrated when it flew through the sun's atmosphere on Thanksgiving
Day. Researchers are still marveling at the images and the scientific
data they contain.
Imagine a world without algebra. We can hear the sound of school
children applauding. What practical use are parametric equations and
polynomials, anyway? Even some scholars argue that algebra is the
Latin of today, and should be dropped from the mandatory curriculum.
But why stop there? Maybe we should do away with math classes altogether.
An astronomer says he’d be out of work: we can all forget about
understanding the origins of the universe, the cycles of the moon and
how to communicate with alien life. Also, no math = no cybersecurity +
hackers (who have taken math) will have the upper hand.
Also, without mathematics, you’ll laugh < you do now. The Simpsons creator Matt Groening has peppered his animated show with hidden math jokes.
And why mathematics = love.
Andrew Hacker – Professor of political science and mathematics at Queens College, City University of New York. His article, “Is Algebra Necessary?”, appeared in The New York Times in 2012.
COMET ISON LIVES: Cancel the funeral. Comet ISON is back from the dead.
Yesterday, Nov. 28th, Comet ISON flew through the sun's atmosphere and
appeared to disintegrate before the cameras of several NASA and ESA
spacecraft. This prompted reports of the comet's demise. Today, the
comet has revived and is rapidly brightening.
RIP, Comet ISON?:Evidence is mounting that Comet ISON did not survive
its brush with the sun on Nov. 28th. SOHO coronagraph images show the
comet apparently disintegrating, while first-look images from the Solar
Dynamics Observatory did not detect the comet moving along its expected
path through the sun's atmosphere.
Researchers working with magnetic fluids on the International Space
Station are taking "smart materials" to the next level. With proper
coaxing, molecules in microgravity can assemble themselves into "genius
materials" with surprising properties. This is opening a new frontier in
COMETS IN THE SOLAR WIND: NASA's STEREO-A spacecraft is obtaining some
marvelous footage of Comet ISON and Comet Encke being buffeted by gusts
of solar wind. So far the two comets have avoided a direct strike by a
CME, but a solar storm in the days ahead could have dramatic effects.
On Nov. 28th,
Comet ISON will have a perilous close encounter with the sun. In
today's story from Science@NASA, experts discuss what might happen if
the comet gets hit by a solar storm at point-blank range.
ENCORE: We’ve all had an “oops” moment.
Scientists are no exception. Sometimes science stumbles in the steady
march of progress. Find out why cold fusion is a premier example why
you shouldn’t hold a press conference before publishing your results.
Also, how to separate fumbles from faux-science from fraud.
Plus, why ignorance is what really drives the scientific method.
And our Hollywood skeptic poses as a psychic for Dr. Phil, while our
Dr. Phil (Plait) investigates the authenticity of a life-bearing
AMAZING COMET PIX: Comet ISON is plunging toward the sun for a perilous close encounter on Nov. 28th.
Even experts aren't sure if the furiously vaporizing comet can survive
its passage through the solar atmosphere on Thanksgiving Day. Some of
the final pictures from Earth may be coming in now--and they are
amazing. The comet, sporting a green head and streaming tail, is
entering the rosy glow of dawn not far from the planet Mercury.
After the winds and water of Typhoon Haiyan abated, grief and hunger
swept though the Philippines, along with the outbreak of disease. Are
monster storms the new normal in a warmer world? Some scientists say
yes, and if so, climate change is already producing real effects on
human life and health.
A hotter planet will serve up casualties from natural disasters, but
also higher rates of asthma, allergies and an increase in mosquito-borne
diseases. It is, according to one researcher, the greatest challenge
of our time, straining health care efforts worldwide. But could a
“medical Marshall Plan” save us?
Also, why the conservative estimates from the U.N.‘s climate change
group don’t help people prepare for worst-case scenarios. And, a
controversial approach to saving our overburdened planet: a serious
limit on population growth.
COMET ISON UPDATE: Comet ISON is now ten times brighter than it was on
Nov. 13-14 when an unexpected outburst propelled the sundiver into the
realm of naked-eye visibility. Observers around the world confirm seeing
the comet as a faint smudge low in the eastern sky before sunrise.
Backyard telescopes reveal a riot of gaseous streamers trailing behind
the comet's brightening (and possibly fragmenting) core. With almost two
weeks to go before ISON plunges into the sun's atmosphere, it is
already one of the most beautiful and active comets in years.