By Mercedes Kirkel This past week I went on a hike with my good friend, Susan. We chose a trail by the San Francisco Bay that Susan used to frequent but hadn’t been on in a number of years. The weather was beautiful, the wildflowers bursting forth, birds gracing our path, and all seemed […]
by G. William DomhoffNOTE: WhoRulesAmerica.net is largely based on my book,Who Rules America?, first published in 1967 and now in its7th edition. This on-line document is presented as a summary of some of the main ideas in that book.Who has predominant power in the United States? The short answer, from 1776 to the present, is: Those who have the money -- or more specifically, who own income-producing land and businesses -- have the power. George Washington was one of the biggest landowner [...]
Excerpt from huffingtonpost.comWhat does the edge of space sound like? Pretty darn strange. Just have a listen to these acoustic signals recorded in the stratosphere some 22 miles above Earth's surface (above). At frequencies below 20 hertz, thes...
Like mother, like son. Toni McCann says her newborn, Cillian, already has her gift of gab and says “hello” — at just seven weeks old. The Belfast, Northern Ireland youth drama-school teacher, 36, caught one of his amazing utterances on video and posted it to YouTube, where the footage has gone viral, raking in more than 366,000 views since March 3.
“I am a huge talker,” McCann tells Yahoo Parenting. “Cillian had been trying to communicate for a while, but it really surprised me how clear his ‘Hello’ was. I’m glad I got it on video, as I’m sure no one would have believed me.”
The mother of four – including Sophia, 12; Ellie, 11; and Eva, 8 — with her husband Paul McCann recently told one of her daughter’s music teachers that the girls’ little brother had said “Hello.” But, the mom admits, “He just looked at me like I was nuts.”
Ditto regarding a few viewers of the clip. “Some people don’t believe it’s real, that it’s been edited, but on the whole most people love it,” McCann tells The Daily Mail. “That is really lovely for me as there is so much bad in the world it’s great that my wee son is spreading some joy.”
But the tot’s biggest fans are right at home. His sisters are so excited about the pseudo talking that they’ve been trying to get Cillian to keep practicing. “After he said hello to me, my youngest daughter tried and he said a much quicker ‘hawo,’” McCann tells Yahoo Parenting. “It was cute but not as clear as the first one.”
Photo by Yahoo
Still, the mom believes her boy’s greeting wasn’t just luck. “He was trying to speak for a while, but that day I knew he was trying to say something,” she tells the Mail. “I’d read that babies communicate from a young age and to give them space to answer when you talk to them.” McCann says she was mindful, then, of giving her son a moment, as opposed to how she’d communicated with her girls: “I think I probably just talked ‘at’ them and didn’t give them space to respond.”
Excerpt from space.com Over the next two weeks, you have an excellent chance to spot one of the most rarely observed objects in the sky, the zodiacal light. The zodiacal light takes its name from the ancient band of 12 constellations through which the...
In the hunt for extraterrestrial life, scientists started by searching for a world orbiting a star just like the sun. After all, the steady warmth of that glowing yellow ball in the sky makes life on Earth possible.
But as astronomers continue to discover thousands of planets, they’re realizing that if (or when) we find signs of extraterrestrial life, chances are good that those aliens will orbit a star quite different from the sun—one that’s redder, cooler, and at a fraction of the sun’s size and mass. So in the quest for otherworldly life, many astronomers have set their sights on these small stars, known as red dwarfs or M dwarfs.
At first, planet-hunting astronomers didn’t care so much about M dwarfs. After the first planet outside the solar system was discovered in 1995, scientists began hunting for a true Earth twin: a rocky planet like Earth with an orbit like ours around a sun-like star. Indeed, the search for that kind of system drove astronomers through most of the 2000s, says astronomer Phil Muirhead of Boston University.
But then astronomers realized that it might be technically easier to find planets around M dwarfs. Detecting another planet is really hard, and scientists rely on two main methods. In the first, they look for a drop in a star’s brightness when a planet passes in front of it. In the second, astronomers measure the slight wobble of a star, caused by the gentle gravitational tug of an orbiting planet. With both of these techniques, the signal is stronger and easier to detect for a planet orbiting an M dwarf. A planet around an M dwarf also orbits more frequently, increasing the chances that astronomers will spot it.
M dwarfs got a big boost from the Kepler space telescope, which launched in 2008. By staring at small patch of the sky, the telescope searches for suddenly dimming stars when a planet passes in front of them. In doing so, the spacecraft discovered a glut of planets—more than 1,000 at the latest count—it found a lot of planets around M dwarfs. “Kepler changed everything,” Muirhead said. Because M-dwarf systems are easier to find, the bounty of such planets is at least partly due to a selection effect. But, as Muirhead points out, Kepler is also designed to find Earth-sized planets around sun-like stars, and the numbers so far suggest that M-dwarfs may offer the best odds for finding life.
“By sheer luck you would be more likely to find a potentially habitable planet around an M dwarf than a star like the sun,” said astronomer Courtney Dressing of Harvard. She led an analysis to estimate how many Earth-sized planets—which she defined as those with radii ranging from one to one-and-a-half times Earth’s radius—orbit M dwarfs in the habitable zone, the region around the star where liquid water can exist on the planet’s surface. According to her latest calculations, one in four M dwarfs hosts such a planet.
That’s higher than the estimated number of Earth-sized planets around a sun-like star, she says. For example, an analysis by astronomer Erik Petigura of UC Berkeley suggests that fewer than 10 percent of sun-like stars have a planet with a radius between one and two times that of Earth’s.
This illustration shows Kepler-186f, the first rocky planet found in a star’s habitable zone. Its star is an M dwarf. NASA Ames/SETI Institute/JPL-Caltech
M dwarfs have another thing going for them. They’re the most common star in the galaxy, comprising an estimated 75 percent of the Milky Way’s hundreds of billions of stars. If Dressing’s estimates are right, then our galaxy could be teeming with 100 billion Earth-sized planets in their stars’ habitable zones.
To be sure, these estimates have lots of limitations. They depend on what you mean by the habitable zone, which isn’t well defined. Generally, the habitable zone is where it’s not too hot or too cold for liquid water to exist. But there are countless considerations, such as how well a planet’s atmosphere can retain water. With a more generous definition that widens the habitable zone, Petigura’s numbers for Earth-sized planets around a sun-like star go up to 22 percent or more. Likewise, Dressing’s numbers could also go up. Astronomers were initially skeptical of M-dwarf systems because they thought a planet couldn’t be habitable near this kind of star. For one, M dwarfs are more active, especially during within the first billion years of its life. They may bombard a planet with life-killing ultraviolet radiation. They can spew powerful stellar flares that would strip a planet of its atmosphere.
And because a planet will tend to orbit close to an M dwarf, the star’s gravity can alter the planet’s rotation around its axis. When such a planet is tidally locked, as such a scenario is called, part of the planet may see eternal daylight while another part sees eternal night. The bright side would be fried while the dark side would freeze—hardly a hospitable situation for life.
But none of these are settled issues, and some studies suggest they may not be as big of a problem as previously thought, says astronomer Aomawa Shields of UCLA. For example, habitability may depend on specific types and frequency of flares, which aren’t well understood yet. Computer models have also shown that an atmosphere can help distribute heat, preventing the dark side of a planet from freezing over.View Article Here Read More
Excerpt from smnweekly.com Comet Lovejoy is scheduled to make an appearance right before New Year’s Day, a treat for astronomers looking forward to 2015.
Most revelers will be looking up to the sky to see the ball drop on New Year’s Eve, but skywatchers could be in for a treat if it’s not cloudy out: at around 11 PM local time the little comet, which looks a bit like a fuzzy green caterpillar, should be visible as it passes across the shins of the constellation Orion.
Of course not everyone is going to be interested in freezing their chestnuts off, especially in the colder climates of North America. If it’s too chilly for you to strain your eyes in order to spot the magnitude 5 comet, you can stay inside in the warmth and just wait for Lovejoy to grow a bit brighter. In fact, astronomers say you can expect the magnitude 5 comet to brighten to magnitude 4.1 over the next few weeks.
Best viewing conditions for New Year’s Eve will likely involve a bit of luck in not having any cloud cover. In addition, if you’ve got a pair of binoculars or a decent telescope you shouldn’t have any trouble spotting it – in fact, according to Alan MacRobert, senior editor of Sky and Telescope magazine, Lovejoy was clearly visible by using a pair of 10×50 magnification binoculars in a region that had more than its fair share of light pollution.
Excerpt from sciencetimes.comOften in the media, it's what's new and fresh that brings in the ratings. But what about looking for something potentially millions of years old? What if it wasn't on this planet even? Peak your interest yet? Well, if so...
A time capsule buried in 1795 by Paul Revere and Samuel Adams was unearthed Thursday in Boston at the Massachusetts Statehouse, possibly the oldest such U.S. artifact ever uncovered.
About the size of a cigar box, the copper container — green from oxidation and caked in plaster — was found in the cornerstone of the "new" statehouse on Beacon Hill, which was completed in 1798.
As Boston Museum of Fine Arts Conservator Pam Hatchfield chiseled away for hours to free the box, five silver coins spilled from the stone block — measures of good luck tossed in when the capsule was entombed by the revolutionary heroes 219 years ago, officials told the Boston Globe. At the time, Adams was known as the governor, not a beer.
The world will have to wait a little longer to learn what's inside. The museum will X-ray the box over the weekend and reveal its contents next week. View Article Here Read More