Tardigrade Moon


On April 11, 2019 unmanned Israeli spacecraft Beresheet crashed into the Moon during a failed landing. Historians will mark this day as first unintentional Moon crash in 48 years, learn more at https://www.livescience.com/65218-moon-crash-beresheet.html

That said, Beresheet might be credited with depositing life on the Moon. Robotic lander Beresheet carried a payload of 30 million digitized pages of information about human culture and society, human DNA samples and Tardigrades. Human DNA and Tardigrade were locked in resin, held in place by sticky tape onto which thousands more Tardigrade were placed.

Tardigrade, aka “water bear”, are the only known life form capable of surviving airless vacuums of space and lethal radiation levels. Remarkable yes, mind blowing when considered with additional facts – Tardigrade can survive six times the pressure of our deepest ocean, frozen to absolute zero (-273 C) or boiled above 150 C. Dehydrate a Tardigrade for years then add water, voila – business as usual. Eventually they succumb to old age, but don’t hold your breath, life expectancy is 200 years.

In the wake of Beresheet’s fiery demise, indestructible Tardigrade litter the lunar surface. Did they vaporize on impact? I care to think not – Tardigrade are the definition of extremophile, if anything can survive crash landing on the Moon, it’s a Tardigrade.

https://www.thefactsite.com/tardigrade-facts/

Koch Snowflake


Yesterday work found me on a luxury yacht, a 60th wedding anniversary celebration with finicky moving parts. As chefs began plating passed canapes I voiced dissatisfaction with presentation – no symmetry please! Later that night one of the chefs, a close friend and co-worker of nine years messaged – in all our years working together why haven’t you corrected my symmetrical arrangements? Adding, “Google informs me  “Symmetry in everyday language refers to a sense of harmonious and beautiful proportion and balance”. He asked “what would you call your preference? Randomness, disorder or perhaps asymmetry “. I replied, “Ask any staff member what makes me crazy, I guarantee one of two answers – symmetry or bartenders who put caps on empty wine bottles.” My preference? Asymmetry of course!

Why asymmetry? What compels me to hammer notions of symmetry out of new staff? Why do long-time staff members laugh out load when they hear me train new staff, “pay attention” they chime, “she hates symmetry, no bookends, twos or fours, only threes and fives”. Cheekier staff punctuate with “relax, as long as it’s random she’ll be happy”.

Random? Asymmetry isn’t random, it’s pleasing and calculated to my eye! Without warning a fractal bomb went off – wait a minute, fractal symmetry is absolute perfection!

Ponders scurried from Mandelbrot Sets to Koch Snowflakes.  From https://fractalfoundation.org/resources/what-are-fractals/ “A fractal is a never-ending pattern. Fractals are infinitely complex patterns that are self-similar across different scales. They are created by repeating a simple process over and over in an ongoing feedback loop. Driven by recursion, fractals are images of dynamic systems – the pictures of Chaos. Geometrically, they exist in between our familiar dimensions. Fractal patterns are extremely familiar, since nature is full of fractals. For instance: trees, rivers, coastlines, mountains, clouds, seashells, hurricanes, etc. Abstract fractals – such as the Mandelbrot Set – can be generated by a computer calculating a simple equation over and over.”

In 1904 Swedish mathematician Helge von Koch published a paper titled “On a Continuous Curve Without Tangents, Constructible from Elementary Geometry” – translation, one of the first published fractal theories. Koch Snowflake is an elaboration of the Koch Curve. Be it curve or snowflake, fractal mathematics are the same – whenever you see a straight line divide it in thirds, build a equilateral triangle on the middle third, erase the base of the triangle so it looks like the shape to the right.

Animation of the first seven Koch Snowflake iterations –

Koch Snowflake

Shortly after his first query, my friend reminded me of mutual affinity for Mandelbrot sets (example below). So why asymmetry, he pressed. Why, indeed?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mandelbrot_set

Oh man, I replied! It’s too late for this ponder! Obviously fractal symmetry warms my heart, but until the day chefs definitively represent fractal perfection with smoked beet tartare on a passing platter – asymmetry remains an art form, symmetry makes me cringe. Go figure.

Moon Hoax Not


Shout out to https://nobodysreadingme.wordpress.com/2019/07/12/how-its-nearly-fifty-years-since-apollo-11/ for prompting this ponder. As nobodysreadingme points out – you can’t do a cover-up on this scale. A casual observation beyond reproach, he’s right – you can’t do a cover-up on this scale.

July 21, 2019 marks the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11 commander Neil Armstrong’s momentous first step on the Moon. Fifty years increasingly over shadowed by conspiracy wing-nuts. News flash – you can’t do a cover-up on this scale! For those inclined to gobble tabloid sawdust, persons swayed by internet jibber-jabber, people parroting fake Moon landing nonsense – snap out of it! You can’t do a cover-up on this scale.

What will it take to convince fake Moon landing conspiracy theorists otherwise? This video? Point by patient point analysis at the link below? Who am I kidding?

https://www.history.com/news/moon-landing-fake-conspiracy-theories

How about this? You can’t do a cover-up on this scale!

Apex


If apex means “top”, the world’s apex predator might just be a tiny spider. Meet Euophrys Omnisuperstes, ( Latin for “standing above everything” ) the Himalayan Jumping Spider,  highest known permanent resident life form on Earth. This quarter inch long, eight eyed, claw footed jumping spider capable of leaping distances 50 times its body length, thrives at elevations of 22,000 feet above sea level. Himalayan Jumping Spiders inhabit a realm so improbable, their only food source is insects carried by the wind.

Meet the Spider that Lives On Top of the World: the Himalayan Jumping Spider

For perspective, Mt. Everest south base camp in Nepal sits at 17,598 feet. At this elevation oxygen levels are 50% that of sea level. Worlds above the tree line, far beyond the domain of Snow Leopards, high above clusters of Nepalese Snub Nose Monkeys https://www.newscientist.com/article/2101954-secrets-of-how-primates-can-live-at-extreme-altitude-revealed/ whose only sustenance is lichen or rare thermal pool prisoners of high altitude hot springs, the Bailey’s snake https://reptiles.fandom.com/wiki/Thermophis_baileyi – tiny eight eyed jumping spiders wait for lunch to blow in on the wind. Why spider, why?

Make no mistake, spiders rule. Sure cockroaches survive underwater for half an hour, monarch butterflies migrate thousands of miles to a miniscule patch of Mexican forest, but it’s the spider who stands above everything.

Water, No Ice


Last night a client asked for water, no ice. Seems she disapproved of Pellegrino served at the bar. No problem, I’ll be right back. Oh, you want to come with me? Have it your way. Following me to the kitchen, she watched as I turned the faucet to run cold water. Her jaw went slack, unable to support quivering lips on a face now drained of colour.  Horrified, she mustered “you only have tap water?”. “Excuse me” I replied, handing her a glass of water, no ice. “I can’t drink that” she sputtered, “I need bottled water”. Propriety screamed “easy now, be cool, you’re a professional”. Rather than snap “are you thirsty or not?”,  politest admonishment ahead of “what’s wrong with you”, I smiled, shrugged and replied “there’s bottled juice at the bar”.

Water, no ice lady’s delusion isn’t unique. Convenience, accessibility, marketing and collective apathy sustain bottled water dependency. Why no ice, because it’s made from tap water?

Society resides in a plastic bubble. Insulated from common sense by convenience, consumers take the path of least resistance. Bolstered by marketed delusions, society dwells on plastic bottles and deems the contents crystal clear. Water, no ice lady doesn’t know 93% of all bottled water contains micro-plastics. Nor is she aware of Canadian law as it pertains to drinking water.

Canadian tap water is regulated by Health Canada which sets guidelines for potentially harmful contamination. Municipal water sources are tested constantly to assure quality. Bottled water is another matter – legally defined as “food”, it falls under jurisdiction of the Food and Drugs Act. Translation – “Aside from arsenic, lead and coliform bacteria, the act does not set limits on specific contaminants but says simply that food products cannot contain “poisonous or harmful substances” and must be prepared in sanitary conditions.” Bottom line, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) inspects water bottling plants – on average once every 3 years. Bottled water producers claim strict adherence to testing practices, legally they’re not obliged to make results public.

With the exception of “spring” or “mineral” water printed on labels, water producers aren’t required to reveal their water source. The Canadian Bottled Water Association claims less than 8% of water bottles in Canada contain municipal water sources. In the United States roughly 45% flows straight from the tap.

“In the U.S., Nestlé’s Poland Spring water, which is not sold in Canada, was the subject of a class-action lawsuit that alleged the company was mislabelling the water as “naturally purified” spring water from “pristine and protected sources… deep in the woods of Maine,” when it fact it was groundwater being drawn from man-made wells, some of which, the lawsuit alleged, were at risk of contamination.” – Kazi Stastna, CBC News

Ponder the link below –

https://www.cbc.ca/news/health/bottle-vs-tap-7-things-to-know-about-drinking-water-1.2774182

Water, no ice lady is a cautionary tale. Bottled water is unregulated, unethical, unhealthy and undeniably unscrupulous.

In plastic bottle news – earlier this week Justin Trudeau held a press conference to announce a nation wide ban on single use plastics by 2020. All good until a reporter asked what Trudeau’s family did to reduce plastics. Ponder his cringe worthy response –

 

 

 

Send Your Name To Mars


NASA invites the public to send their name to Mars. Names submitted by September 30, 2019 travel on the next Mars Rover Mission, expected to launch summer 2020. NASA will use a electron beam to etch submitted names onto silicone chips. With lines of text smaller than one thousandth the width of a human hair, each dime sized chip can contain over a million names. Engraved chips ride along with Rover under a glass cover. From EarthSky – https://earthsky.org/space/Send-your-name-to-mars-mission-2020?utm_source=EarthSky+News&utm_campaign=2e5c7b1c90-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2018_02_02_COPY_01&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_c643945d79-2e5c7b1c90-393970565

After submitting your name, NASA will send you a souvenir boarding pass and “frequent flyer” points. Miles/kilometers are awarded for each flight, with digital mission patches available to download. 

Image of rad planet Mars with a rectangular white ticket on top of it.

https://mars.nasa.gov/participate/send-your-name/mars2020/

Follow the link above to send your name to Mars.

 

May 18, 2019 Blue Moon Ponder


Since the dawn of my existence “once in a blue moon” defined rarity of two full moons in a calendar month. More than that, it served as impetus for cosmic wonder. Tonight I discovered the Blue Moon of May 18, 2019 is “seasonal”, meaning the third of four full moons in a single season. How rare can that be?

Twelve months in a year, each month roughly based on a single lunar orbit of Earth. Twelve months, four seasons, three months per season. Fine, I get it – four full moons in a season is rare, but someone could have told me “once in a blue moon” had alternate meanings! There was one on November 21, 2010 another August 20, 2013 and May 21, 2016. After May 18, 2019 we won’t witness another seasonal blue moon until August 22, 2021.

An article published in the March 1946 issue of Sky and Telescope magazine titled Once In a Blue Moon by James Hugh Pruett, cemented blue moon in popular culture. Referring to the 1937 Maine Farmer’s Almanac,  Pruett wrote –

“Seven times in 19 years there were – and still are – 13 full moons in a year. This gives 11 months with one full moon each and one with two. This second in a month, so I interpret it, was called Blue Moon.”

Despite the fact Pruett goofed in reference to astronomical details of 1937 moons (there were 12 that year not 13 ), the term Blue Moon was born. Me – I’m still coming to terms with the fact I’ve lived 59 years and never considered blue moon anything other than 2 full moons in a calendar month. Lesson learned.

Blue Moon: All you need to know

Link to detailed list of Blue Moon dates and designation – http://www.themoonfaqs.com/2010/01/blue-moon-dates_31.html