Six hundred light years from Earth in the constellation Cygnus, circling a star named Kepler every 290 days, orbits the planet Kepler 22b. Named for the NASA probe Kepler, this is the first confirmed “earth like” planet in a “habitable” zone. the habitable zone is defined as a planet just the right distance from its Sun to support liquid water.
Imagine being forced to leave your family to live with a group of strangers. One of these strangers is now your husband. You are his property, you are invisible. Under the law obedience is all that matters. Divorce is not an option. Your body no longer belongs to you. You might be raped, beatings are encouraged as a means of love and instruction. You can not work, drive a car, or ever leave home unescorted. You can not contact your family without permission from your husband. If you complain you may be returned to your family, who must repay your dowry. You may be murdered in a perfectly acceptable “honour killing” aimed at keeping order.
It would be unfair to paint all of Islam with the same brush. That said, for those women born into a fundamentalist part of the world, the reality is tragic.
Although I have recently pondered the Harvest Moon, a little reminder is in order. When the full moon rises this Saturday, imagine a time before electricity when farmers relied on the extra light to harvest their crops.
Normally the moon would rise about 50 minutes after sunset. At the time of the Harvest Moon, the time shortens to 30 minutes. The date of the Harvest Moon changes from year to year. If it happens to fall on the same day as the Fall Equinox, it is called a Super Harvest Moon. The last super moon was in 2010.
Harvest Moon. Image Credit: nasaimages.org
Today Canada‘s House of Commons struck down Motion 312, aimed at re-opening the debate defining when life begins, by a vote of 203 to 91. Ponder the fact that 91 Members of Parliament voted in favour of the motion.
Abortions were illegal in Canada until Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau decriminalized them in 1969. Abortions were then allowed provided a committee of doctors ruled it was in the best interest of the mother. In 1988 R.V. Morgentaler was the deciding case in which Canada’s Supreme Court struck down the 1969 law as unconstitutional. Since then there have been no laws to limit abortion in Canada. In Canada life “begins” when a foetus exits a mother’s womb.
Roe V. Wade seemingly settled the abortion debate in America. The 1973 Supreme Court decision effectively invalidated all state laws restricting a woman’s access to an abortion during her first trimester of pregnancy.
Most certainly beyond pondering, I’m astounded by this backward slide. The State of Arizona recently voted in a law defining the beginning of life as “calculated from the first day of the last menstrual period of the pregnant woman” in other words – before she is even pregnant.
A lot more attention should be paid to our governing bodies. If this isn’t a wake up call to ponder, I don’t know what is.
A new comet, C/2012S1 ,known as comet ISON was recently detected beyond the orbit of Jupiter. This one has scientific jaws wagging . The reason their horn rims are bunched in a knot is ISON will pass very close to the Sun. 1.8 million Km. may not sound like much. In universe terms it may as well be your neighbour knocking on the door. It’s too early to say which fate will be dealt ISON. Several possibilities exist – it may fizzle out, disappearing in a puff of space dust, or it may become “super charged” from the intense heat of the Sun, making it visible to the naked eye. The verdict won’t come until next year.
Few people have the option of life without work. What motivates our career choices, and how many are happy with their job? Do we abandon dreams for money, or was money our dream? Do starry eyed ambitions crush under the realities of life? Does our job fulfil our lives, or does it burden us with resentment and anxiety? Are we over qualified and underpaid, or happily punching the clock pursuing our passions? Do we follow our own path or pave someone else’s?
Best jobs – Software Engineer, Actuary, Human Resources Manager, Dental Hygienist, Financial Planner, Audiologist, Occupational Therapist, Online Advertising Manager, Computer Systems Analyst, and Mathematician.
Worst jobs – Lumberjack, Dairy Farmer, Enlisted Military Personnel, Oil Rig Worker, Newspaper Reporter, Waiter/Waitress, Meter Reader, Dishwasher, Butcher, and Broadcaster.
It would warm my heart to know that others checked in with our Sun each day. Solar wind, chance of flares, Auroral oval, electromagnetic flux, it’s all there on spaceweather.com. I’m not bothered in the slightest that my inability to sleep until checking in, borders on compulsion. Anyone who has witnessed the Northern Lights might understand. I’ve managed to wean myself off solar alerts and warnings, checking that site out only when the Sun has been uppity.
The universe is a mystery in so many ways, we are nothing more than a speck of cosmic dust, at the mercy of forces completely beyond our control. Gazing skyward unlocks your imagination, understanding those forces makes you appreciate all that you have.
The solar wind is currently steady at 336 Km/second. Some active sunspots have kicked up a fuss, throwing off flares. Not to worry they’re on the far side of the sun and not Earth directed. In a few days they will be facing Earth, no telling how active they will be. For reasons not understood by science, around the Equinox Auroras become particularly intense. As of today there are 1331 near Earth asteroids, none on the PHA (potentially hazardous asteroid) list, so no collisions looming. A near earth asteroid is anything 100 Lunar Distance (the distance from earth to the moon) or less. The closest one, 2010JK1, will pass by on Nov. 25 a mere 56 metres and 9.3 Lunar Distance.
Photo from spaceweather.com
An incredible amount of attention has been given to Mayan predictions of our world ending on Dec. 21, 2012. There is absolutely no doubt the Mayans had an astounding window into time, space, and the workings of the universe. Vast bodies of insight and knowledge have been lost forever. The Spanish Conquistadors managed to erase huge pieces of the puzzle with little thought to the consequences. Mayan ruins were looted, and it wasn’t until quite recently that Mayan “glyphs” were even understood.
Despite media hype suggesting a “doomsday” this December, ponder this story.
In 2010 at the ruins of the Mayan site Xultun archaeologists found a faded mural. Unlike anything seen before, it contains glyphs referring to years well beyond 2012. The Maya had different calendar “cycles”, archaeologists are at a loss to explain all the intricacies, yet one thing is certain – the calendar begins August 11, 3114 B.C., and definitely does not come to a crashing halt this year.
Few people bother giving garbage a second thought. Recycling has become part of the routine. No problem, we separate trash, once a week its taken away. In many places electronics are no longer accepted, we’re begrudgingly getting used to that.
Ever pondered animal waste? Millions of tons of dog poop are trucked to American dumps each year. Lets talk kitty litter. An estimated third of Americans are cat owners. Each of those cats use around 275 lbs. of litter a year. Start doing the math, it’s mind boggling. How about dirty litter from the thousands and thousands of small animals like hamsters or gerbils. For the most part all this waste is tightly sealed in plastic bags which won’t be breaking down any time soon. Those bags that do break open spill out, contaminating the site. Cat faeces in particular has the potential to infect birds and other animals.
Move on to disposable diapers. Somewhere between 250 – 500 years is the time it takes a disposable diaper to decompose. By age two every child has contributed 1 – 2 tons of waste to the landfill. Millions of diapers grace the dump each day, an estimated 2 – 3 % of a landfill is diapers.
We wouldn’t dream of putting raw human sewage, diapers aside, into the city dump. I’m pondering the wisdom of allowing animal waste, and disposable diapers. Wouldn’t it make more sense to replace those electronics recycling depots with raw waste depots. I’d take a VCR over a bag of kitty litter in my dump any day.
Photo from myzerowaste
Sept. 22 the fall equinox arrives. Earth doesn’t orbit the Sun straight up and down, it’s tilted on a rather wobbly axis of about 23 degrees. Twice a year the angle of orbit mirrors the angle of tilt resulting in the axis neither turning towards or away from the Sun. This is the equinox, the point at which Northern and Southern hemispheres switch seasons as the Earth continues along its endless path. At the equinox both hemispheres receive about the same amount of sunlight, their days and nights the same duration. Equinox is derived from the Latin words aequis meaning”equal” and nox meaning “night”.
Ancient cultures built mind boggling structures for the sole purpose of marking the equinox. Stonehenge and Machu Pichu are two of the better known astrological observatories tirelessly heralding in the equinox with scientific precision.
Stonehenge from the Epoch Times