Thursday, August 31, 2017

A New Kind of Upper Atmospheric Lightning?


Source - Space Weather News for August 31, 2017: http://spaceweather.com

A NEW KIND OF UPPER ATMOSPHERIC LIGHTNING? In recent years, photographers have catalogued a growing number of luminous forms apparently leaping up from the tops of thunderstorms. These so-called sprites, elves, gnomes, and trolls inhabit the upper atmosphere, reaching their weird-looking tendrils up toward space. On Aug. 14th, an amateur astronomer in New Mexico photographed a rare curving form of upper atmospheric lightning that has baffled experts in the field. Shaped like a funnel or a tornado, it might represent a new addition to the menagerie of sprites.

Read all about it on today's edition of Spaceweather.com























Image credit: Thomas Ashcraft 

Geomagnetic Storm Watch (G1-class)


Source - Space Weather News for August 30, 2017: http://spaceweather.com

GEOMAGNETIC STORM IN THE OFFING: A canyon-shaped hole has opened in the sun's atmosphere, and it is spewing a stream of high-speed solar wind toward Earth. NOAA forecasters say there is a 30% chance of polar geomagnetic storms (G1-class) when the gaseous material reaches our planet on August 31st. High-latitude sky watchers should be alert for auroras this Thursday and Friday.

Visit Spaceweather.com for photos and updates













Image Information: This canyon-shaped "coronal hole" is a region in the sun's atmosphere where the sun's magnetic field has opened up, allowing solar wind to escape.

Image Credit: NASA/SDO/Spaceweather.com 

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Big Picture Science for August 28, 2017 - Elements Never Forget













Big Picture Science - Elements Never Forget

ENCORE: It’s elementary, Watson.  Things are in flux – from the elements in the air you breathe to party balloons.   We investigate the massive, historic loss of nitrogen from the atmosphere and meet the culprits behind a modern-day helium shortage.

But it’s not all a disappearing act: be thankful that oxygen showed up in our atmosphere a few billion years ago.  Meanwhile, atom smashers have recently produced some new elements.  Their appearance was brief, but long enough to fill out the periodic table.

And perhaps the tastiest use of an element – one that gives Seth a chilly reception.

Guests:

This encore podcast was first released on 6/20/2016

Download this podcast at - http://bigpicturescience.org/episodes/elements-never-forget

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, August 20, 2017

Big Picture Science for August 21, 2017 - Musical Universe













Big Picture Science - Musical Universe

ENCORE: In space, no one can hear you scream, but, using the right instruments, scientists can pick up all types of cosmic vibrations – the sort we can turn into sound.  After a decade of listening, LIGO, a billion-dollar physics experiment, has detected gravitational waves caused by the collision of massive black holes, a brief shaking of spacetime that can be translated into a short squeal.

We listen to the chirp of black holes crashing into each other and wonder: could the universe contain more than individual sounds, but have actual musical structure?

A theoretical physicist and jazz saxophonist updates the ancient philosophical concept of the Music of the Spheres to probe the most vexing questions confronting modern cosmology.  Find out how the evolution of the universe resembles an improvisational jazz piece, and the musical inspiration John Coltrane drew from Albert Einstein.

Guests:

This encore podcast was first released on 7/25/2016

Download podcast at - http://bigpicturescience.org/episodes/musical-universe

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.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

New Predictions for the Solar Eclipse


Source - Space Weather News for August 16, 2017: http://spaceweather.com

NEW PREDICTIONS FOR THE SOLAR ECLIPSE: Next Monday, Aug. 21st, the Moon will pass directly in front of the sun producing an historic solar eclipse over the USA.  Millions of people inside the path of totality will catch a glimpse of the sun's gossamer outer atmosphere, the corona. In centuries past, the appearance of the corona was unpredictable from one eclipse to the next. But now researchers have developed supercomputer codes to forecast its shape.

New predictions for the "Great American Solar Eclipse" are highlighted on today's edition of Spaceweather.com

 













Above: NASA-supported researchers at Predictive Science Inc. have just issued a physics-based model of the sun's corona as it will appear during the Great American Solar Eclipse. [more

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Big Picture Science for August 14, 2017 - On Thin Ice













Big Picture Science - On Thin Ice

Water is essential for life – that we know.  But the honeycomb lattice that forms when you chill it to zero degrees Celsius is also inexorably intertwined with life.

Ice is more than a repository for water that would otherwise raise sea levels.  It’s part of Earth’s cooling system, a barrier preventing decaying organic matter from releasing methane gas, and a vault entombing ancient bacteria and other microbes.

From the Arctic to the Antarctic, global ice is disappearing.  Find out what’s at stake as atmospheric CO2 threatens frozen H2O.

Guests:
  • Peter Wadhams - Emeritus Professor of Ocean Physics at Cambridge University in the U.K. and the author of A Farewell to Ice: A Report from the Arctic
  • Eric Rignot - Earth systems scientist, University of California, Irving, senior research scientist, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory
  • ├ůsmund Asdal - Biologist, Nordic Genetic Resource Center, coordinator for operations and management of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, Svalbard, Norway
  • John Priscu - Polar biologist, Montana State University

Download podcast at - http://bigpicturescience.org/episodes/thin-ice

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.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Watch Out for Perseid Fireballs this Weekend


Source - Space Weather News for August 11, 2017: http://spaceweather.com

PERSEID FIREBALLS: The Perseid meteor shower, which peaks this weekend (Aug. 12-13), produces more fireballs than any other known annual meteor shower. (Fireballs are meteors brighter than Jupiter or Venus.) This characteristic of the Perseids is important because in 2017 the shower peaks under the light of a bright gibbous Moon. Perseid fireballs should be visible in spite of lunar interference, producing a pleasing display for anyone outdoors before sunrise on Saturday and Sunday.

Visit Spaceweather.com for observing tips.

Perseid Fireball - Taken by Piotr Majewski on August 12, 2016 @ Grodztwo, Poland 












 

Monday, August 07, 2017

Big Picture Science for August 07, 2017 - Skeptic Check: Busting Myths with Adam Savage













Big Picture Science - Skeptic Check: Busting Myths with Adam Savage

ENCORE: Can an opera singer’s voice really shatter glass?  Can you give your car a rocket-assisted boost, and survive the test drive?  How do you protect yourself from a shark attack?  Those are among the many intriguing questions and urban legends tested by the MythBusters team in front of the camera.

Now that the series has ended after a 16 year run, co-host Adam Savage tells us how it all began, how he and Jamie Hyneman walked the line between science and entertainment, and why he considers himself a scientist but not a “skeptic.”

Also, he reveals the location of the episode, “Duct Tape Island.”

Guests:
  • Adam Savage - Former co-host and executive producer of MythBusters

This encore podcast was first released on 5/23/2016

Download podcast at - http://bigpicturescience.org/episodes/skeptic-check-busting-myths-adam-savage

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.