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Sunday, October 19, 2014

ALL IS NOT WELL WITH PLANET EARTH


Yesterday, 25,000 (or 30,000, depending on source) runners participated in the Beijing Marathon.  Masks of various types were used.  However, air pollution did not bother Girmay Gebru of Ethiopia, who won in 2:10:42:


While it was reported that "most" runners finished, it wasn't clear how many died.  The government had issued a BLUE WARNING, meaning, the air quality was unsuitable for outdoor activities.  Not sure what blue means, for:


Maybe blue means off the charts, for there were readings in Dingzhou yesterday that went beyond the highest level on the index.  From another source, here is what I found about BLUE:

Beijing Initiated a Blue Warning  

From Beijing’s severe air pollution emergency director’s office), the reporter found out, Beijing’s unfavorable weather conditions continued to influence the air quality, as the air current moved poorly. At the same time, the fireworks and firecrackers set off on the night of Lantern Festival increased the degree of pollution. From 6 pm on the day of Lantern Festival, the density of PM2.5 increased markedly, rising to a peak hourly average of 500 micrograms per cubic meter. There was even an individual instance of 900 micrograms per cubic meter recorded. Compared with the peak recording on New Year’s Eve, Lantern Festival was 50% higher.

Apparently BLUE means an Air Quality Index greater than 500.  There was some sense of humor, as the general theme had to do with airpocalypse and there was no Ebola scare, for no one wore a Hazmat suit.  Interesting that, as bad as Beijing might be, here are the world's worst air polluted cities:


If you're wondering why Beijing is not listed, this has something to do with the use of particulate matter (PM) size:  PM10 micron by the world and PM2.5 micron by China.  In general, you can inhale a 10 micron particle, but the smaller 2.5 micron is far more dangerous, as it gets into your blood stream.


Last month, September, was the hottest on record. This April, May, June and August also equalled or broke the all-time monthly highs:

"We shouldn't be beating the all-time records without an intense El Nino," said Andy Pitman (right), director of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate System Science at the University of NSW. "What the hell's going to happen when we do get [one]?"

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Hurricane Ana remains at 80 MPH, is today south of Kauai/Niihau, and will turn north from tomorrow.


Best as I could tell, Ana was kind to Hawaii.  Honolulu has had gentle rains for a day and a half now, with sunlight expected this afternoon.  Whew!

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Saturday, October 18, 2014

TIME AND SPACE ARE RELATIVE

Almost everyone knows that light travels 186,282 (simplify to 186,000) miles per second, which means that if you were to go at that speed, you would circle Planet Earth 7.5 times in one second.  Or, sunlight takes 8 minutes and 20 seconds to travel from the Sun to us.  To be really picky, our orbit is not circular, so it can be 8 min 27 sec when we are furthest away.  If  you've ever been curious about how we get our sunlight (which is nuclear power, fusion, occurring at the center of our Sun), here is one explanation.

Yesterday, Richard Brill featured in his Star Advertiser column the long, hard trek of sunlight, or photons (this is a quantum of light), from the Sun to Earth:
  • A gamma ray photon is created at the core of the Sun at 27 F million degrees and 250 billion atmospheres.
  • As gamma rays are "dangerous," it is fortunate that this high energy photon has to pass through 432,000 (Brill says 400,000) miles to the surface of the Sun.
  • The first 300,000 miles is plasma denser than lead.
  • This gamma ray photon collides with mostly hydrogen molecules (really, the proton portion), bounces around, and loses energy.
  • It takes around 100,000 years for this photon to finally reach 100,000 miles from the surface of the Sun, and is now only one ten-millionth of its original energy as an X-ray photon.
  • The final 120,000 miles is "only" turbulent plasma (mostly ionized hydrogen), so this X-ray photon only takes a week more to get to the surface of the Sun, which is at around 10,000 F.
  • This photon is now only one-millionth as energetic, or one ten-trillionth of what it originally was.
  • Thus, this benign photon, called sunlight, takes a final 8 minutes and 20 seconds to reach the surface of Planet Earth.
  • The whole journey took about 100,00 years + one week + 8 minutes +20 seconds, or around 100,000 years to reach us.  However, Brill says in the first paragraph 120,000 years, so I suspect he meant that it takes 120,000 years, not 100,000 years, to reach a point 100,000 miles from the surface.  In any case, 100,000 years or 120,000 years is a long time and it doesn't matter much if scientifically accurate.
Unfortunately, the fundamental science is not as simple, for another analysis says this 100,000 years  estimate is, essentially, not really so!  Another source indicates 10,000 to 170,000 years, based on collisions.  A more accurate answer is:

 The calculation is a little tricky, but the conclusion is that a photon takes between many thousands and many millions of years to drunkenly wander to the surface of the Sun.

All three results from eminent individuals are sufficiently different, but such is the nature of advanced astrophysics.  They say dark energy is 73% of all mass and energy in the Universe, and 23% is dark matter, except that no one has yet seen or measured anything dark.  What we observe, thus, is ONLY 4% of everything.  Does this make any sense to you?

Here is something a little more understandable, and reveals the incredible vastness of our Universe.  This source says that a commercial jet would take from 118 billion to 143 billion years to travel from one  end of our Milky Way Galaxy to the other.  Of course, it would quickly run out of fuel first, and can't travel in a vacuum anyway.  Keep in mind, though, that the Big Bang was only 13.8 billion years ago.    The rule of thumb is that light would need 100,000 years to get across our galaxy.  The first biologically modern Homo sapiens evolved around 100,000 years ago, wall paintings perhaps 50,000 years ago, farming 12,000 years, and tale of Jesus Christ 2,000 years.  

The closest major galaxy, Andromeda (which is the farthest thing we can see with our unaided eyes), is 2.3 light-years away, or, in other words, light would take 2.3 million years to get here from there.  Again, other reports show the figure to be 2.5 million years.    Why can't they be consistent?

Incidentally, when you gaze at Andromeda, that light left that galaxy at a time when Homo habilis (right) lived,  and way before the Neanderthals (first appeared 400,000 years ago), where the earliest version of  Homo sapiens, us, only came, perhaps, 250,000 years ago.  In other words, if any signal is detected from that galaxy, if we respond, it will take another 2.5 million years to get there.

Incidentally, while it might be true that our Sun should be good for maybe another 5 billion years, it turns out that our Milky Way and Andromeda will begin to merge in 4 billion years.  With Andromeda to the left, here is what this collision will look like from Planet Earth:



Andromeda has a trillion stars, while at most, the Milky Way might have 400 million, so we will lose this battle.  But, we are only two of 225 billion galaxies that can be detected (there are more).  Inter-galactic travel?  There are suggested ways.  But dream on.

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The eye of Hurricane Ana is 140 miles from Honolulu and moving west:


From my computer, here is Ana, beyond the horizon:


Perfectly calm, no rain, only cloudy, but regular screechy weather warnings about the potential of floods.

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Friday, October 17, 2014

IT'S FRIDAY, AND ALL IS REASONABLY WELL ON PLANET EARTH


In Hawaii, Hurricane (supposed to become one today) Ana appears to be sliding just south of the Hawaiian Islands.  On the other hand, in 1992, Hurricane Iniki took this path, suddenly making a right turn to devastate Kauai:


This was a Category 4 storm, which at 145 MPH, caused $3 billion (in 2014 dollars) of damages to the island.  So you just never know, and people in Hawaii remain anxious.

And speaking of Category 4, Hurricane Gonzalo was one yesterday, but today "only" a Category 3 at 125 MPH, is bearing down on Bermuda:


That over-hyped Ebola scare affecting the stock market, compelling CNN to almost continuously repeat stories of this micro-crisis and scaring the Obama Administration to name an Ebola Czar (that's Ron Klain to the right)?  Well, the United Nations declared today that Senegal has overcome Ebola.  Senegal is just above Guinea, which, with Liberia and Sierra Leone, will continue to face some difficult times for many months to come.  While perhaps a tad early to declare total victory, Nigeria, too, appears to have contained their Ebola outbreak.


Only one person has died of Ebola in the U.S.  But be was a Liberian citizen who snuck through airport control by lying. Every year from 3,300 to 49,000 are killed by the flu in the USA, and worldwide, 250,000 - 500,000.  Even though the flu can be transmitted through the air, we still fly.  Ebola can only be contracted by touching fluids from an infected individual.  Global traffic deaths number around 1.25 million each year, and we still drive.  Oh, get your flu shot.

American stocks are doing well today, the Dow Jones Industrial Average jumping 263 points, and much of the world also showing gains, even the  Japan Nikkei.  However, the Japan stock exchange has dropped by almost 2000 the past month and is way less than half of what it was in 1990:


In 1989, the Dow was in the range of 2500, so we have jumped by almost a factor of 7, while Japan is close to one third its peak in 1989.  Russia and Greece are also looking vulnerable these days, and Europe continues to be a messy basket case.  In comparison, the USA is doing fine, indeed.

The darlings of the American sports world are the Kansas City Royals.  They miraculously have won eight straight games in the post season, and for first time in 29 years, made it into the World Series.

The San Francisco Giants, too, eased into the Series from wild card status.  That's Madison Bumgarner of the Giants, the best pitcher in baseball today.

The World Series begins in  Kansas City (the American League beat the National League in the June All-Star Game) on Tuesday, October 21.  If it goes seven games, that will be on October 29.  On three days rest, Bumgarner could pitch his third World Series game on the 29th, if it goes that far (first to win four games is the American champion--we have never won the World Baseball Classic, and at best reached #3 in 2009)


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Thursday, October 16, 2014

PLANET EARTH AND HUMANITY BLOG SITE

As I post this today:

     Sparkline 761,662

visitors have viewed this blog site.

They come from 216 countries.  The top ten:
1    





United States  
152,205
2.United Kingdom17,460

3.Canada13,916

4.India9,738

5.Germany8,417

6.Australia6,931

7.France6,331

8.Japan5,509

9.Philippines4,668

10.Netherlands3,520


These countries or Google sites have never clicked here:

Country   Visitors 
1.British Indian Ocean Territory0
2.Central African Republic0
3.Chad0
4.Christmas Island0
5.Comoros0
6.Falkland Islands0
7.Guinea-Bissau0

8.Kiribati0

9.Kosovo0

10.Montserrat0

11.Nauru0
12.Niue0
13.Norfolk Island0
14.North Korea0
15.Republic of the Congo0
16.Saint Helena0
17.Saint Martin0

18.Saint Pierre and Miquelon0
19.Sao Tome and Principe0
20.Sint Maarten0
21.South Sudan0
22.Svalbard0
23.Tokelau0
24.Turkmenistan0
25.Tuvalu0
26.Vatican City0
27.Wallis and Futuna

Anyone reading this posting know someone from those entities, please have them ping on:


Amazingly enough, more than a hundred different countries apparently visit this site each day and in some days approach 200.  27 February 2010 saw the most visitors:  3,356 viewers with 3,912 flag counter views, whatever the difference might be.  This was THE CHILE EARTHQUAKE.  In fact, natural disasters tend to draw the most viewers:


That first blip on the left is the HAITI EARTHQUAKE.

However, over the six years of this blog, certain postings accumulated more views, as for example, here are the top 20 (and some make no sense to me):
  1. THE WONDER OF QATAR  21271
  2. COUNTRY #15: BARBADOS  17785
  3. THE BEST PLACES IN THE WORLD (Part 25: Jewels of the American East)  12645
  4. THE FUTURE OF GEOTHERMAL ENERGY  8196
  5. CAN THE WHALE SHARK REPLACE CATTLE?   6792
  6. FALL OF THE BERLIN WALL AND END OF THE COLD WAR  6561
  7. ABOUT THAT GIANT FILIPINO CROCODILE  6072
  8. RECENT HUFFPOS  5708
  9. SNAKES IN HAWAII  5600
  10. SUNDAY BONBONS  5551
  11. THE MAGIC OF TRUFFLES  5390
  12. COUNTRY #13: BAHRAIN  5223
  13. SIMPLE SOLUTIONS FOR JAPAN  4935
  14. THE MASAI  4895
  15. INDIA SUCKS…*  4592
  16. WHERE ARE THE OSAKA WHALE SHARKS???  3968
  17. SIMPLE SOLUTION ESSAYS: The Venus Syndrome (Part 1)  3828
  18. HONOHONO AND CATTLEYA ORCHIDS  3513
  19. CAN YOU GET VIVID DREAMS WITH GARCINIA CAMBOGIA?  3211
  20. WHAT SPARKED THE ISLAMIC REVOLUTION?  3145
There are very few energy and environment postings on that list above.  Thus, at the encouragement of some of my friends and readers, I have expanded the coverage to anything I want, especially, travel, food and entertainment.  People seem to like whale sharks.  Actually, my SIMPLE SOLUTIONS for Humanity does get into most of these subjects, and I actually once had a whale shark project with Taiwan.  From day to day you don't expect what will be featured, mostly because I also don't until I turn on the computer.

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Ana remains a tropical storm, but will attain hurricane status later today or tomorrow.  Then the expectation is for a slight weakening when close to Honolulu from Saturday into Sunday:


There seems to be a slight shift south, which will be a relief for the Big Island, but bad for Oahu and Kauai, for this diminish the potential of Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa dampening the winds.

There is a stronger ocean storm, Hurricane Gonzalo at 145 MPH, in the Atlantic.  Bermuda could be in grave danger, but the next near landfall would be Newfoundland:


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