SUNSET SKY SHOW: The two brightest planets in the night sky are converging for a spectacular close encounter. On June 30th,
Jupiter and Venus will be just a fraction of a degree apart, forming a
pair so bright that you can see them even before nightfall. Check http://spaceweather.com for observing tips and more.
ENCORE: A computer virus that bombards you with pop-up ads is one thing. A
computer virus that shuts down a city’s electric grid is another.
Welcome to the new generation of cybercrime. Discover what it will take
to protect our power, communication and transportation systems as
scientists try to stay ahead of hackers in an ever-escalating game of
cat and mouse.
The expert who helped decipher the centrifuge-destroying Stuxnet
virus tells us what he thinks is next. Also convenience vs.
vulnerability as we connect to the Internet of Everything. And, the
journalist who wrote that Google was “making us stupid,” says automation
is extracting an even higher toll: we’re losing basic skills. Such as
how to fly airplanes.
Ray Sims – Computer Technician, Computer Courage, Berkeley, California
Eric Chien – Technical Director of Security Technology and Response, Symantec
GEOMAGNETIC STORM WARNING: A CME is heading directly for Earth, and it
is expected to sweep up one or more lesser CMEs before it reaches our
planet on June 22nd. The combined impact is likely to spark polar
geomagnetic storms and high-latitude auroras. Visit http://spaceweather.com for more information and updates.
ENCORE: It’s hard to imagine the twists and turns of evolution that gave rise to Homo Sapiens.
After all, it required geologic time, and the existence of many
long-gone species that were once close relatives. That may be one
reason why – according to a recent poll – one-third of all Americans
reject the theory of evolution. They prefer to believe that humans and
other living organisms have existed in their current form since the
beginning of time.
But if you’ve ever been sick, you’ve been the victim of evolution on a
very observable time scale. Nasty viruses and bacteria take full
advantage of evolutionary forces to adapt to new hosts. And they can do
Discover how comparing the deadly 1918 flu virus with variants today
may help us prevent the next pandemic. Also, while antibiotic resistance
is threatening to become a major health crisis, better understanding of
how bacteria evolve their defenses against our drugs may help us out.
And the geneticist who sequenced the Neanderthal genome says yes, our hirsute neighbors co-mingled with humans.
It’s Skeptic Check … but don’t take our word for it!
SOLSTICE AURORA WATCH: On June 18th, the sun produced its biggest flare
in nearly two months. The M3-class explosion caused a brief
low-frequency radio blackout over North America and hurled a CME into
space. A glancing blow from the CME is likely on June 21st , possibly sparking a geomagnetic storm and solstice auroras. Check http://spaceweather.com for updates.
SUNSET PLANETS: When sun goes down tonight,
step outside and look west. Venus, Jupiter and the crescent Moon are
having a lovely conjunction in the sunset sky. Photos @ http://spaceweathergallery.com
NOCTILUCENT CLOUDS REACH THE USA: The northern season for noctilucent
clouds began on May 19th when NASA's AIM spacecraft spotted a patch of
electric blue over the Arctic Circle. Since then the clouds have been
spreading south. This week, for the first time in 2015, they crossed the
border into the lower 48 US states. Seeded by meteoroids and floating
near the edge of space, these eerie-looking clouds are increasingly
visible to mid-latitude observers, possibly as a result of climate
Earth may be the cradle of life, but our bodies are filled with
materials cooked up billions of years ago in the scorching centers of
stars. As Carl Sagan said, “We are all stardust.” We came from space,
and some say it is to space we will return.
Discover an astronomer’s quest to track down remains of these ancient
chemical kitchens. Plus, a scientist who says that it’s in our DNA to explore – and not just the nearby worlds of the solar system, but perhaps far beyond.
But would be still be human when we arrive? Hear what biological and
cultural changes we might undergo in a multi-generational interstellar
Earth is entering a stream of debris from an unknown comet, and this is
causing one of the most intense meteor showers of the year. Ironically,
most sky watchers won't notice because the shower peaks in broad
daylight. We only know it's happening because a radar in Canada is
picking up echoes from meteoroids streaking through the blue sky
overhead. Astronomers call these meteors "Arietids" because they emerge
from the constellation Aries not far from the June sun.
tips on how you might be able to see earthgrazing Arietids just before
sunrise in the mornings ahead, visit http://spaceweather.com
ENCORE: 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.
Last week, Earth-orbiting satellites detected the first noctilucent
clouds of the 2015 season. Now people on Earth are seeing them, too.
Photographers in Scotland recorded a fairly bright display of the
electric-blue clouds on May 28th. At the same time, radars have
detected intense echoes coming from the "noctilucent zone" 80 km to 90
km above Earth's surface--possibly coming from the clouds themselves.
Check http://spaceweather.com for more information and observing tips to help readers see NLCs for themselves in the weeks ahead.
There are few enduring truths, but one is that no one gets out of
life alive. What’s less certain is what comes next. Does everything
stop with death, or are we transported to another plane of existence?
First-hand accounts of people who claim to have visited heaven are
offered as proof of an afterlife. Now the author of one bestseller
admits that his story was fabricated.
We’ll look at the genre of “heaven tourism” to see if it has anything
to say about the possible existence of the hereafter, and why the idea
of an afterlife seriously influences how we live our lives on Earth.
Also, a neurologist describes what is going on in the brain during near-death and other out-of-body experiences.
It’s Skeptic Check, our monthly look at critical thinking … but don’t take our word for it!