Sun, Moon and Stars in the News

first_imgWhat’s up in astronomy?  Surprises, by heavens.Spherical sun:  The sun is too close to a perfect sphere than expected theoretically, a finding “baffling” to astronomers.  “Definitive” measurements by the Helioseismic and Magnetic Imager (HMI) show that “if the Sun were shrunk to a ball one meter in diameter, its equatorial diameter would be only 17 millionths of a meter larger than the diameter through its North-South pole,” according to PhysOrg.  The shape is also remarkably constant over time.  Even with its slow rotation, it should flatten into an oblate shape more than is observed; besides, it is a turbulent surface filled with magnetic disturbances and flares.  “For years we’ve believed our fluctuating measurements were telling us that the sun varies, but these new results say something different,” the team leader of the observations said. “While just about everything else in the sun changes along with its 11-year sunspot cycle, the shape doesn’t.”Another new moon theory:  How long have the textbooks said that a glancing blow from a Mars-size object hit the earth and formed the moon?  Time for another revision.  Science Now entertained a new theory that it might have been a direct hit.  The article, “Moon Formed From Head-On Collision,” came ready-made with new artwork.Some 4.53 billion years ago, a Mars-sized impactor slammed into Earth, forming a young, molten moon. But was it a head-on collision or a glancing blow?  New computer simulations argue for the former, indicating that the impactor scored a direct hit, crashing into Earth at a steeper angle and with a higher velocity than previously thought. The resulting smashup would have ejected far more Earth debris into space than other models have indicated, with much hotter temperatures. And that would mean the moon formed from more Earthlike material than previously thought. The origin of the impactor itself remains an open question.As usual, the phrase “than previously thought” avoids stating who thought such notions.  Note: a smashup is not like a mashup; no intelligent design is involved.Lunar helium:  Helium, a slippery molecule that should not have long lifetimes above the moon, has been detected in the moon’s tenuous atmosphere by the Lunar Reconnaisance Orbiter, according to PhysOrg.  It’s too early to say if it comes from the interior or is added by the solar wind; observers of lunar origin theories may want to take note and follow up on the developing story.Creation by destruction:  Theorist Alan Boss is pretty sure a supernova led to the formation of our solar system, even though the idea is highly speculative.  This is because gas clouds need a shove to form planets, explained Space.com: “In particular, the shock wave from the explosion is thought to have compressed parts of the nebula, causing these regions to collapse.”  Boss’s computer model was programmed to make sure that short-lived radionuclides got into the nebula before they decayed, because they show up in meteorites.  It’s all work in progress: “the researchers are still trying to find various combinations of supernova shock wave parameters that will line up with observations of exploding supernovas.”Solutions:  Not to worry: two solar system puzzles have been solved at once, according to PhysOrg: the origin of comets and asteroids.  Perhaps your textbook didn’t tell you they were puzzles.  The puzzles relate to the origin of calcium-aluminum inclusions (CAIs) in meteorites.  If you are willing to accept some complexity, a solution is at hand:  “CAIs are thought to have formed at the very beginning of the Solar System,” one said.  “Our results show that they must have experienced remarkably complex histories as they were transported chaotically all over the disk.”  Whether that is a good solution, the reader can judge.Getting the dates right:  “Dating features on the Moon and Mars is guesswork. Scott Anderson is building a tool to change that.”  So begins a Nature News feature about Anderson’s cool new tool to date meteorites that can fit on a spacecraft.  But he has his critics, who reveal some dirty laundry about radiometric dating methods:Anderson will have to show not only that his chronometer is fast and light, but also that his dates make sense. Radiometric dates are some of the trickiest, most delicate and most disputed measurements on Earth. Anderson wants to transform what has been a laborious process of chemical extraction and analysis into a laser-based system, automate it and shrink it into a robot small and reliable enough to send to another planet. “We’re extremely sceptical of these things working,” says Lars Borg, a chemist at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in Livermore, California, whose three-person lab usually produces just two dates a year. “We really struggle to get these ages ourselves.”Monster mash: A previous announcement about stars too big for theory now has an explanation: smaller stars did the Monster Mash.  Details at Live Science.Primitive star?  A puzzling star thought to be among the “second generation” of stars was announced in Nature News.  “The chemical content of a star that was born relatively shortly after the formation of the Milky Way calls into question conventional understanding of how stars formed in the early Universe.”  The problem is that this low-mass Milky Way star has one of the lowest metallicities (elemental abundances heavier than lithium) of any star at a time when such stars should have been massive.  This and other problems call into question star formation theories and their progress since the Big Bang; the astronomers do not yet see a pattern.Plasma puzzle:  We’ll just reproduce the opening sentence of this entry on PhysOrg, typical of the “everything you know is wrong” genre: “The first controlled studies of extremely hot, dense matter have overthrown the widely accepted 50-year old model used to explain how ions influence each other’s behavior in a dense plasma. The results should benefit a wide range of fields, from research aimed at tapping nuclear fusion as an energy source to understanding the inner workings of stars.”The dark rulers of all:  For an entertaining story, read the book review on black holes at Nature August 16. The book is Gravity’s Engines: How Bubble-Blowing Black Holes Rule Galaxies, Stars, and Life in the Cosmos (Caleb Scharf Scientific American: 2012).  Mario Livio lavished in the speculation: “Scharf speculates that black holes rule everything in the cosmic landscape — from the large-scale structure of the Universe to life. Using rich language and a brilliant command of metaphor, he takes on some of the most intricate topics in theoretical and observational astronomical research. He weaves a wonderfully detailed tapestry of what modern astronomy is all about, from the complexities of cosmic microwave background studies to the X-ray mapping of galaxy clusters.”  But then he had some quibbles.  Scharf tends to overstate things.  “I have quibbles, too, with the passages in which Scharf attempts to support his argument that black holes are the main engines driving everything from re-ionization and cosmic star formation to galactic evolution and the emergence of life.”  Far be it from astronomers to exaggerate.All this culminates with his intriguing statement that “the entire pathway leading to you and me would be different or even nonexistent without the coevolution of galaxies with supermassive black holes and the extraordinary regulation they perform”. Scharf admits that many steps remain uncertain and that numerous questions have yet to be answered. But he proposes that because the cosmic and galactic environments leading to the rise of complexity and life are part of black holes’ galactic evolution, it is reasonable to ask what special things link us directly to that history.However, I feel less certain than Scharf about the answer. He explains that the tight correlation between the masses of supermassive black holes and of stellar bulges at galaxies’ centres reveals a co-evolution. It is equally certain that feedback from supermassive black holes had an important role in the ensuing star-formation history in the bulges of galaxies. But was this the key factor in determining whether life-bearing planets should exist or not? I doubt it. Still, the idea makes for a very interesting journey.In short, read Scharf as a nice story, not as solid science.Within much of astronomy these days, what you thought you knew is wrong, and what you think you know now is likely to be proved wrong in the future, but what scientists tell you they know at the moment is a sure thing.  Does the fable of the Blind Men and the Elephant come to mind? (Visited 24 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

Here Comes Cosmos Again

first_imgCarl Sagan’s TV series Cosmos is coming back in version 2.0 with a new cast of atheists to spread the gospel of scientism.Two generations have passed since Cosmos became a hit TV series in 1980 with the atheist popularizer of science, Carl Sagan.  Now, Neil deGrasse Tyson, the PhD astrophysicist and director of New York’s Hayden Planetarium, is reviving it with the help of PBS and Sagan’s widow, Ann Druyan.  Tyson, no less enthusiastic and articulate than his predecessor (if not more so), is also, like Sagan, an atheist, a staunch believer in cosmic evolution, and a passionate defender of science as the fountainhead of all certifiable knowledge.The new 13-episode Cosmos series will begin airing in March on Fox and the National Geographic channel.  Space.com tells about the “rebooting” of the series and how, 34 years later, it is being recast for a new generation that expects cutting-edge video and audio.  A video clip promoting the new series begins with Sagan’s memorable opening manifesto of materialism from the old series, “The cosmos is all that is, or ever was, or ever will be” – an assertion beyond science that launched a thousand commentaries and criticisms, such as the book Cosmos: Carl Sagan’s Religion for the Scientific Mind by Christian apologist Norman Geisler.Producer of Cosmos 2.0 Brannon Braga (Star Trek) describes the series as, if not opposed to religion, at least one-up to it:“Science doesn’t have to be the opposite of religion in terms of its emotional value,” he said. “Science can move you like any other story. Science can be a visceral, emotional experience. Religion doesn’t own awe and mystery. Science does it better.“The producers expect the new series to continue on past its initial release in reruns, disks and other media platforms for many years.  Undoubtedly there will be a book and website.  While clips of Sagan will be interspersed in the shows, Tyson will have many advantages not available to Sagan in 1980: the internet, social media, and 34 years of planetary and astronomical discoveries.The original Cosmos was criticized for its promulgation of a largely debunked “warfare hypothesis” of science vs religion.  Judging from the trailer, that theme will still be prominent.  Sagan portrayed religion as anti-intellectual, responsible for all the wars and regresses of nations.  Science was always the savior and liberator of mankind.  Central to the plot was Darwinian evolution – not just biological, but cosmic.  The trailer includes flashbacks that will probably make it into the “reimagining” of Cosmos: religion burning Giordano Bruno at the stake for suggesting the possibility of life on other worlds, for instance (a largely distorted, though inexcusable incident – he was killed for other sins, historians say).As Cosmos 2.0 makes “the case for science,” it will undoubtedly equate science with cosmic evolution.Critics of scientism had better prepare themselves, because this miniseries is bound to be very appealing to a lot of people, including Christians, Jews and other theists.  It will also provide a shot in the arm to the new atheists who are becoming increasingly assertive.  Cosmos 1.0 took on a life of its own that has lasted for over 3 decades, reaching around the world as one of the most successful and widely-watched science documentaries in TV history.  Now, with 34 years of progress in animation, production quality and scientific advances, it would be surprising if Cosmos 2.0 does not surpass its famous predecessor.One reason is Neil deGrasse Tyson himself.  He is a dynamo: energetic, tall, muscular, handsome, articulate, smart, funny, possessing an engaging aura that exudes positive vibes.  For some, he will gain extra points simply for being black.  He’s likeable, very intelligent, and already has a big following.  I’ve seen how effective he is as a communicator; once he gave a special video greeting to the Cassini team and had them all on the edge of their seats.  In my opinion, he will be more effective than Carl Sagan in communicating the case for scientism, especially when it’s clear from the trailer he will be presented to viewers as almost a demigod or superhero.  What is unknown is whether viewers who can download Lord of the Rings on a smartphone will be so jaded by high-tech wizardry as to find another miniseries just another miniseries.  Sagan didn’t have to compete with a thousand cable channels, Netflix and YouTube.Much of the appeal of Cosmos 2.0 will be all the stuff that’s right about it.  There will be plenty of good science, like a depiction of the Cassini-Huygens mission to Saturn and the Titan landing.  Christians will say “amen” as Tyson debunks astrology and other superstitions.  This will desensitize them to the poison in the pill, when the “warfare of science and religion” theme (largely discredited by philosophers and historians) builds bit by bit, anecdote by anecdote.  Many viewers won’t know the truth about the Bruno affair, the Galileo affair, and the Christian faith of great scientists, because the stories will be spun to fit the warfare mold.  He will also make the origin and evolution of life look very simple and plausible.  As Tyson announces “The cosmos is all that is, or ever was, or ever will be,” his persona along with the careful scripting and appealing visuals will make it hard to dismiss.  Church-goers may come to their pastors with lots of questions.  The worst possible answer is: “I don’t understand science; just have faith.”Parents, pastors and youth leaders should not shield young people from the series; they’re going to get the same propaganda in college anyway, most likely, or in the general culture.  You don’t build strong faith by ignoring challenges.  You get it by facing them with better weapons and the skills to use them.  And Christians have the better weapons!  Despite its arrogant facade, the scientism theater is a house of cards if you know where the weaknesses are.  For instance, by using logical argumentation, evidence, and reasoning, Tyson and the cast will be cutting their legs out from their own materialistic feet.  Where does logic come from?  From hydrogen?   Perceptive viewers will also notice Tyson turning science into a religion, with superstitious imagery that makes astrology look tame (examples: a big eye embedded in the Ring Nebula; zipping around the universe on a whim faster than the speed of light, space aliens everywhere).  With a few master strokes, you can unmask the Cosmos production set as a den of thieves.  They plagiarize parts of the Christian worldview (belief in truth, logic and morality) to build a materialistic castle of paper on sand.  Pastors and teachers can empower young people and adults with good answers and apologetic training; it will make them stronger after the battle than before.  It can actually make them excited about their faith, more passionate to defend it.Specific unbiblical scientific claims should be faced.  Creation-Evolution Headlines has a search bar for researching many evolutionary claims; if you don’t know something, look it up.  Don’t be overly critical; for instance, both Tyson and Sagan are reputable astronomers deserving respect for their science; Sagan did valuable work for NASA’s Mars and Venus missions, for instance, and became a bit less arrogant in his atheism in later years.  Be circumspect in your criticisms; don’t call them fools or evil; go after the claims, not the men.  But especially, freshen up your critical thinking skills with our Baloney Detector, recognizing card stacking, big lie*, half truth, visualization**, loaded words, glittering generalities***, suggestion, reductionism, red herring, equivocation, straw man, and other tricks of the propaganda trade.  Since the series will be heavy into astronomy, read up on our biographies of Newton, Galileo, Kepler and other Bible-believing astronomers; also, know something about the anti-Darwin biologists and the sordid history of the Darwinian revolution.  A prepared mind can enjoy the good aspects of the series, learning things, appreciating its strengths but remaining alert to its weaknesses.  It’s safe to say this will be one of the strongest and most consistent presentations of scientism one is likely to see on TV.  If you can rock that Goliath to sleep with a logical stone, you’ve got reason for confidence.*Example of a big lie from Cosmos 1.0:  Sagan stated emphatically, “Evolution is a fact, not a theory.  It really happened.”  Then he tried to illustrate it with trivial examples of microevolution and even artificial selection.**Example of visualization: In Cosmos 1.0, Sagan narrated a series of one-dimensional drawings of animals morphing into one another, following evolutionary stages from bacteria to man.  This is not only asinine, but contrary to evolutionary theory itself.  Straight-line “orthogenesis” is a debunked theory.  Animals do not evolve as one individual into another; offspring and whole populations must be considered.  It was pure propaganda – simplistic, at that.***Example of glittering generalities: In the last episode of Cosmos 1.0, Sagan summed up the whole cosmic evolution scenario in sweeping generalities.  At one point, he said, “Eyes evolved, and now the cosmos could see.”  As evolution advanced, leading to sumptuous scenes of civilization, transportation and space exploration, with a final musical crescendo, he capped it all off with this monstrous generality that he admitted sounds like “epic myth”: “These are some of the things that hydrogen atoms do, given fifteen billion years of cosmic evolution.”(Visited 35 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

OCA members to offer over 115 consignments in Replacement Female Sale

first_imgShare Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest Several members of the Ohio Cattlemen’s Association (OCA) will sell over 115 consignments in the OCA Replacement Female Sale on Friday, Nov. 27, 2015, at 6 p.m. at the Muskingum Livestock Auction Company facility in Zanesville, Ohio. Consignments include approximately 30 mature cows, less than five years of age, and approximately 85 bred heifers.Breeds represented will include Angus, Angus x Red Angus, Polled Hereford, Red Angus, Simmental, Simmental x Angus, Simmental x Red Angus, and crossbred. Service sires represented include Angus, Hereford, Maine-Anjou, Red Angus and Simmental.“Now is an excellent time for producers to add quality replacement heifers to their herds,” says John Grimes, OSU Extension Beef Coordinator. “The economic forecast for the cow-calf segment of the beef industry is very good for the next few years. Feeder calf prices remain strong from a historical perspective and the future looks positive as well. This sale represents an excellent opportunity for cow-calf producers to add quality bred heifers to their herds and potentially take advantage of the positive economic outlook for the beef industry.”last_img read more

BackType Now Filters Out Boring Tweets, Launches New WordPress Plugin

first_imgThe Dos and Don’ts of Brand Awareness Videos Conversations around blog posts now often happen offsite on social networks like Twitter and Facebook. Sadly, a lot of plugins that try to bring these conversation back to the blog end up being somewhat useless, as large numbers of retweets can easily overshadow the more interesting tweets. Twitter search engine BackType just launched a major update to its search engine and a new WordPress plugin that aim to combat this problem. Starting today, BackType will filter out uninteresting tweets from its search results and its widgets.Widgets and PluginsLast April, BackType released its first WordPress plugin. Unlike the original plugin, which features comments from sources like Twitter, Digg, FriendFeed,Reddit and other blogs, the new plugin only focuses on Twitter.Installing the plugin is straightforward. If you use WordPress, you can find the plugin and instructions for installing it here. If you use another blog engine, the widget can be found here. You don’t need to register with BackType to use this service.If nobody has tweeted anything interesting about your site yet, BackType will give your readers the option to send a tweet right from the widget. Sadly, BackType didn’t integrate a re-tweet feature into the plugin, which would have made the service even more useful for publishers.Here is the new BackType widget in action:BackType is obviously working in a crowded market. As a search engine, it has to compete with successful startups like OneRiot, while its plugin competes with more complete offerings from Disqus and JS-Kit. At the same time, though, the simplicity of the plugin is its greatest strength. If you don’t want to replace your current comment system but would like to bring in more discussions from Twitter to your blog, the new BackType plugin is definitely worth a look. Related Posts Tags:#Blogging#news#twitter#web A Comprehensive Guide to a Content Auditcenter_img Guide to Performing Bulk Email Verification frederic lardinois Facebook is Becoming Less Personal and More Pro…last_img read more

No Constitutional impropriety in Goa govt. formation: Shah

first_imgPanaji: Accusing the Congress of misusing the Article 365 of the Constitution time and again to topple State governments during its rule, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) national president Amit Shah on Saturday said the BJP did not commit Constitutional impropriety while forming a coalition government in Goa.Mr. Shah was speaking at a rally organised by the State BJP, where he and Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar were felicitated for their roles in government formation after the Assembly elections, in which the party came second to the Congress with 13 MLAs in the 40-member Goa Assembly. The Congress had emerged as the single largest party in the polls with 17 MLAs. Seven Ministers had lost their seats from the erstwhile coalition government, including the then Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar.The BJP national president also criticised the All India Congress Committee (AICC) General Secretary in-charge of Goa, Digvijay Singh, for failing to swiftly elect a legislative party leader, a key step in government formation post-results.“I want to ask Digvijayji, when BJP leaders with [Union Minister] Nitin Gadkari went to meet the [Goa] Governor, were you even able to elect CLP leader by then? [Congress] were not even able to choose their legislative leader,” he said.The Union Minister for Roads Transport and Highways and Shipping, Mr. Gadkari, credited Mr. Shah as being the architect of the government formation. He also denied any illegality in the process. He revealed some of the behind-the-scenes aggressive manoeuvring done by Mr. Shah, who worked with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and key members of the BJP’s parliamentary board, to effect the party’s victory in the State.The BJP had received the support of three MLAs from Goa Forward Party and the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party, and three Independent MLAs, which cleared the way for formation of a coalition government. The Congress had alleged that Constitutional provisions were violated by the BJP in the process.Mr. Gadkari said, “We did not do anything wrong. In the history of India, in the Lok Sabha and the legislative Assembly elections, those who have a majority are invited to form the government.”He added, “The real architect of Goa victory is Amit Shah. My mood was that we may not form a government, so we should give up. But he called me to his home and told me to go to Goa and that a government should be formed in any condition.”Congress a ‘rare species’Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar said the Congress would soon become a “rare species” on the canvas of Indian politics. He also said the BJP could come to power in Goa only because of the party’s Central leadership and the Congress leadership’s inability to act swiftly to form a government.“We have to think as to why we dropped from 21 to 13 [MLAs]. We were lucky that the party’s Central leadership was behind us. They gave us full support and to our luck, the person who the Congress had sent here [referring to Digvijaya Singh] was more interested in being a tourist,” Mr. Parrikar said.Mr. Parrikar also said the Congress would also lose the Karnataka Assembly polls scheduled next year.“Congress is like an extinct species. Like the wildlife species which a forest department tracks down when it is on its way to becoming extinct. It is there in Karnataka, but next year it will disappear from there too,” Mr. Parrikar said.Speaking about his government’s plans, Mr. Parrikar said, “One thing I learned in Delhi is to speak less and work more. This time [as a Chief Minister] I have decided to speak less. Whatever work we do, people will see for themselves.”last_img read more

India vs Bangladesh: Match abandoned due to rain

first_imgThe third ODI between India and Bangladesh has been abandoned due to rain.The match began under a cover of thick clouds at the Shere Bangla Bangla National Stadium in Mirpur. Suresh Raina, India’s captain, won the toss for the first time in the series and elected to bat.India were reeling at 13/3 after 8.3 overs, when a passing shower shortened the match to 40 overs a side. The Indians have already won the series 2-0, after Stuart Binny’s stellar bowling performance of 6 wickets for 4 runs in the 2nd ODI on Tuesday.Check live scores here: 3rd ODIThe starting lineup for both teams for the third ODI are:Bangladesh: Tamim Iqbal, Anamul Haque, Mithun Ali, Mushfiqur Rahim (capt. & wk), Shakib Al Hasan, Nasir Hossain, Mahmudullah, Sohag Gazi, Mashrafe Mortaza, Taskin Ahmed, Al-Amin HossainIndia: Robin Uthappa, Ajinkya Rahane, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ambati Rayudu, Suresh Raina (capt.), Manoj Tiwary, Wriddhiman Saha (wk), Stuart Binny, Akshar Patel, Mohit Sharma, Umesh Yadavlast_img read more