Ponder 2017, A Year In Space


On the cusp of 2017s last gasp, ponder a year of cosmic discovery. September 2017 marked the end of Cassini’s stoic 20 year, one billion mile journey to unlock mysteries of Saturn and its moons. A quest defined by exquisite images, unprecedented collection of data and a fiery death plunge into the heart of Saturn. We lost Cassini in 2017, but data collected on her death march will keep science busy for years. Great link to NASA Cassini timeline –

https://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov/resources/7757/

In April 2017 Harvard astronomer David Charbonneau published a study detailing LHS 114Ob, a Earth-like planet orbiting a red dwarf star 40 light years away.  “This is the one we’ve been hunting for all these years!” said Charbonneau. A rocky, temperate exoplanet with our best to date potential for finding alien life.

http://www.wired.co.uk/article/super-earth-40-light-years

Credit – M. Weiss/CfA

Speaking of exoplanets – In June 2017 NASA announced 10 of the most recent 219 planets catalogued by the Kepler space observatory, were Earth sized and potentially habitable.

Credit – NASA/JPL-Caltech

November 2017, science discovered the first documented interstellar object to enter our solar system. Object A/2017 U1 was noticed moving away from Earth at a staggering 15.8 miles per second. Now dubbed Oumuamuas, learn more at link below this image –

http://earthsky.org/space/oumuamuas-solar-system-trajectory-ottewell

Gravitational waves took October 2017 by storm, awarding the Nobel Prize in Physics to LIGO (Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory). First theorized by Albert Einstein, conclusive evidence of gravitational waves is possibly the greatest cosmic discovery of 2017. Gravitational waves occur when mass accelerates, such as when two black holes rotate around each other. Moving at the speed of light, they spread outward filling the universe. Einstein didn’t believe they could be measured, LIGO proved him wrong. Astrophysicists won’t forget 2017, the year gravitational waves validated determination to understand disruptions in spacetime.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/technology/nobel-prize-in-physics-goes-to-gravitational-wave-scientists-1.4318306

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Cosmic water rippled across 2017. From Cassini’s suggestion Saturn’s moon Enceladus harbored water, to exhaustive unraveling of ancient flowing liquid erosion on Mars and Moon research indicating a wealth of hidden water.

Saturn's moon Enceladus, photographed here by the Cassini spacecraft, has a subsurface ocean that also contains a chemical energy source that could be used by life-forms.

 

Saturn’s moon Enceladus, photographed here by the Cassini spacecraft, has a subsurface ocean that also contains a chemical energy source that could be used by life-forms.

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

 

This image of an inner slope of a crater on southern Mars has several seasonal dark streaks called “recurrent slope lineae,” or RSL.

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UA/USGS

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Moon water theory stems from deposits of pyroclastic rock known as volcanic glass. Glass beads form when eruptions of magma crystallize as they cool on the surface trapping water inside. Until recently decades old samples of volcanic moon glass brought back by Apollo 15 & 17  were thought to be regional peculiarities. Closer modern scrutiny confirms wide total distribution of volcanic glass – a 2017 about face regarding hidden lunar moisture.
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 Perhaps the best way to embrace wonders of 2017 is with imagery. Start here – https://www.digitaltrends.com/photography/best-space-photos/ – move on to – https://www.popsci.com/best-images-outer-space#page-2 – spend a few minutes at NASA – https://www.nasa.gov/multimedia/imagegallery/index.html
2017 catapulted cosmic foundations, science embraced unimaginable leaps toward unraveling the paradox of spacetime. Lack of understanding, dismissive frustration born of absent points of reference are no excuse to retreat from cosmic wonder. I won’t call it a resolution for the new year, but do hope more people open their minds to the cosmos. Start 2018 with links to http://earthsky.org/ or https://www.space.com/ in your news feed. Happy New Year.

 

 

Life Coach


On the cusp of a new year, seasonal anomalies of obligatory resolution find me pondering “life coaches”. To be fair, life coaching has nothing and everything to do with seasonal aversion to empty personal promises. I’m all for personal reflection, but once a year because it’s expected is a tad tiresome. Proliferation of life coaching adds insult to injury. I personally know 3 people who peg their futures on successful life coaching endeavors. Each one a university graduate professing unique insight into the plight of millennials.

Words “life doesn’t come with a manual” form the thesis of this baby boomer’s approach to life. Seasonal resolutions however well intentioned or inane, always stemmed from personal reflection. Enter life coaching, a booming profession defined as –

“Life Coaching is a profession that is profoundly different from consulting, mentoring, advice, therapy, or counseling. The coaching process addresses specific personal projects, business successes, general conditions and transitions in the client’s personal life, relationships or profession by examining what is going on right now, discovering what your obstacles or challenges might be, and choosing a course of action to make your life be what you want it to be.”

Holy crap! If I know of three life coaches, how many more serve as millennial oracles? Am I alone in fearing for a generation of life coached dreamers whose seasonal resolutions stem from coached life plans rather than intrinsic motivation?

Image result for life coach

 

2018 Top Writer Nod


Fired up the laptop after work, a message from Quora politely delivered news I had been named a Top Question Writer 2018. Aw shucks Quora, you just made my day. Top Question Writer 2 years in a row? Yep, a click on my profile page confirmed the distinction.

Image result for quora top question writer 2018

Most people haven’t heard of Quora, obscurity of being named a top writer isn’t lost on me. Personal satisfaction stems from recognition of content, not followers or views. Tomorrow I’ll forget about another top writer nod, tonight I’ll grin like a mad fool

Pondering Honey Fungus


What is the largest organism on Earth? Simple enough question, take a shot at the answer – giant sequoia, blue whale – not even close. Ponder a 5.5 kilometer across honey fungus in Oregon, our largest terrestrial organism.

Image via Factorialist.

https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2017/10/humongous-fungus-genome/544265/

Fungus inhabit the kingdom of Fungi. Neither plant or animal, science suspects member species of the fungal realm number in millions. Of 120,000 identified species –  300 are detrimental to humans, 8,000 attack plants, many more target animals. Before dismissing fungus as mushroom soup or nasty toenails, ponder a parasitic community boasting the largest organism on Earth.

Science defines individual life forms as organisms comprised of genetically identical cells, able to communicate and share a common purpose. Weighing an estimated 600 tons, Oregon’s behemoth Honey Fungus passes the single organism test with flying colours. Don’t go looking for a giant mushroom, most of this fungal monstrosity lurks below ground. A parasitic giant, entwined underground in colonized tendrils intent on dissolving roots of conifer forests above.

http://factorialist.com/fungus-tree-eating-machine/

http://earthsky.org/earth/largest-land-organism-honey-fungus

Fungi don’t photosynthesize, sustenance comes from absorbing nutrients dissolved by secretion of digestive enzymes. Science can’t say if it took two or eight thousand years for the world’s largest organism to occupy 2,384 acres, roughly the area of 1,665 football fields. It can say the largest individual organism on Earth is a fungal parasite named Honey. A mysterious, organic matter dissolving monster capable of sucking life from all it touches. Fungi freak me out.

The illions Of Carl Sagan


In 1980 Carl Sagan took humanity to the Cosmos. In honour of Sagan’s  dedication to bring wonder and thought provoking insight to the masses – a clip for those who share my regard for one of the greatest minds in history.  Ponder Millions, Billions and Trillions, all the illions of Cosmos taken in order.

Still beaming from Cosmos illions, I can’t resist offering – We Humans Are Capable of Greatness…

Asperitas


For the first time in over 50 years, skies are officially cloudier. This year maestros of meteorologic whimsy, conduits of foreboding trepidation and petticoats of nature’s fancy were asked to make room for Asperitas at the head table. Gavin Pretor-Pinney, founder of the Cloud Appreciation Society inducted Asperitas into the International Cloud Atlas hall of fame. A monumental achievement in science clouded by genre, subsection, supplementary features and special circumstance.

https://cloudatlas.wmo.int/clouds-supplementary-features-asperitas.html

Gavin Pretor-Pinney defined Asperitas as –

… localized waves in the cloud base, either smooth or dappled with smaller features, sometimes descending into sharp points, as if viewing a roughened sea surface from below. Varying levels of illumination and thickness of cloud can lead to dramatic visual effects.

An asperitas formation over Ballstad, Vestvagoy, Lofoten islands, north of Norway.

If by chance you happen upon undulating clouds that resemble rough seas if viewed from below – shout a hearty welcome to Asperitas, the first cloud formation recognized in half a century.

Romulus Augustus


Romulus Augustus appeared on my Facebook page yesterday. Written by Nigel Best, a fellow Canadian who echoes my sentiments –

When a dog has fleas, a powder helps. worms? it’s given medicine.

When the dog has cancer, it’s only right that the animal is put to sleep.

So it should be with Romulus Augustus, such is the name of the dog.

Romulus is the mastiff American republicans adopted a couple of years ago. Despite some fears about his temperament and his propensity to shift in an instant from licking to snarling, the party took him in, gave him a few dog whisperers, and put him out on show.

“somehow, he manages to grab us all in a certain way, despite a certain revulsion at the slobbering jowls,” gushed one junior senator at Romulus’ inaugural event just 12 months ago.

Excess salivating aside, the party membership in America needs to accept what the rest of us could already discern on that cold day, the dog looked very sick.

Republicans had to have known something may be going on when their mastiff started pissing on the bed. with some hindsight, perhaps the congress should have done something earlier, but when one has a pet, it’s sometimes hard to accept this day will arrive, especially not this quickly.

By mid-year, it was a little more difficult to afford or reconcile Romulus’ sneaking into offices and pissing on senators’ heads as they attempted to sleep on office sofas between late-night committee sessions.

“all i needed was him to quieten down and curl up in my lap, but he just could not, or would not,” said a Utah congressman. “yet, it still seemed possible he would take a turn for the better.”

It’s hard to hear that something one has coddled is riddled with inoperable tumors, though it probably helps to understand some of the animal’s most outlandish and erratic behaviors stemmed from a systemic sickness.

It must have been difficult to shake off questions about his behavior, even as they were being mocked and ridiculed.

Was that perhaps because some were in horror at the appearance of being aloof to his plight? Now that there’s no disguising this sickness, will there be any pity for the appearance of being almost inhumane?

It should not have come to this, but look, Romulus is barely able to breathe. he can barely walk. having gone almost blind, like any creature in a similar situation, he is afraid. that accounts for his bared teeth and attempts to bite at any shadow that flits across his dimming pupils.

It is cruel to keep the sick animal on a life-support system. at the same time he is taxing your well-being, putting your health at risk with the constant not knowing what is next.

It’s never easy letting go. having to have done it before, dog owners will tell you, whisper gently into Romulus’ ears as the sharp needle is administered.

You will detect in his final moments that this is exactly what he has been wanting from you. those early-morning yelps of desperation that would rouse you daily from your slumber, those were his appeals for this moment.

You will know he will be thanking you as the drug helps him slip into oblivion.

So, in the sake of empathy, now is the moment to say goodbye to Romulus Augustus. as the saying goes, every dog has its day.

Top 11 Drooling And Slobbering Dogs Neapolitan Mastiff