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Monday, September 8, 2008

THE PLANET VENUS (Part 13)

Venus was named for the Roman goddess of love and beauty. It’s almost the size of Earth, but is 67 million miles from the Sun, as opposed to our 93 million miles, and has a year 225 days long. But it takes more than a year for a day—that is, it takes 243 days to rotate once. It is hot, about 860°F (460°C), enough to melt lead, with clouds of sulfuric acid, and an atmosphere 96% carbon dioxide resulting in a surface pressure 90 times that of Earth. Venus is Hell, and is furthermore said to be the #1 UFO false alarm, because it can be seven times brighter than any other star or planet. I haven’t, but, with a practiced eye, you can actually see Venus in broad daylight.

The Aetherius Society (aetherius.org), founded a half century ago by George King, said he was telepathically contacted by an alien intelligence that Jesus and Buddha were from Venus. Well, maybe this is enough, for NASA Mariner 2 in 1962 showed what is now known to be hostile life conditions. But it is interesting nevertheless to reflect that one of the selected battlegrounds of the Soviet Space Program was Venus, for Cold War public relations purposes, and, in 1975, a camera on board a Soviet craft did send back the first photograph of the surface of Venus.

NASA Magellan flew in 1989 to map the surface of Venus, and, over four years, returned data showing that the planet was unlike Earth. The entire surface was relatively young, about 500 million years old, and uniform. NASA Cassini, in 1998 and 1999, on its way to Saturn (where the close encounter was made and transmitted for television audiences in July of 2005), added to the information base. However, scientists still cannot explain how the surface of Venus got that way.

But, it is surmised that Venus once had oceans, and water. What happened? Why is Venus Hell and Earth the Garden of Eden? The Goldilocks Paradox essentially says that Mars is too cold, Earth is just right and Venus too hot for the necessary life conditions, beginning with water.

This has all to do with runaway positive feedback (RPF). A well known example of RPF is the howling sound from an audio system. Negative feedback is good, as for example, in an air conditioner, which turns the cool off when a certain minimum temperature is reached, and then turns it back on, when a certain maximum temperature is reached. Positive feedback usually destabilizes systems. An example of positive feedback is when a heater reaches a maximum temperature, and the system reacts by adding more heat. This is what is happening in global climate warming. Our civilization is insanely contributing to positive feedback by burning more fossil fuels. But is there any danger of a runaway?

Theoretically, according to a NASA study, evaporation loads the atmosphere with water vapor, which traps thermal energy coming from the Earth, and in a chain reaction loop, results in further warming of the ocean, leading to higher evaporation rates, trapping more water vapor, etc. However, it just turns out that sea surface temperatures never reach more than about 87°F (27°C), the critical temperature at which a runaway effect could occur. On Earth, today, we are, maybe, safe, if there were no human activity.

One theory regarding Venus is that it is closer to the Sun, so that the critical ocean temperature was exceeded. With the clouds gone, carbonates and other carbonized compounds decomposed, maybe through volcanic eruptions, sending carbon dioxide into the atmosphere to start another Greenhouse Effect, resulting in the present condition. Another speculation is that of a planet-wide upheaval half a billion years ago took place—perhaps sudden volcano eruptions—changing the atmosphere and causing extreme climate warming, again, through the Greenhouse Effect.

In any event, we don’t want our atmosphere to be like Mars, and especially not that of Venus. But is this possible? Well, Stephen Hawking was asked at a seminar in Beijing in June of 2006 about his thoughts on the environment. He responded that he was afraid that Earth, “might end up like Venus, at 250 degrees centigrade and raining sulfuric acid.” Tomorrow, the final part of THE VENUS SYNDROME.
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Hurricane Ike struck eastern Cuba, is now back in the ocean, and should pass through western Cuba over the next 24 hours. Ike dropped to 80 MPH from a high of 135 MPH, and should weaken a bit more on its second land passage. However, all models show a re-strengthening in 4 days to 115 MPH. Landfall in the Galveston area is projected for Saturday. On the other hand, hurricanes have been known to confound predictions.
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Tropical Storm Lowell is at 45 MPH and is still expected to make a right turn towards Baha in a few days.
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Tropical Storm 15 formed in the North Philippines Seas, and will soon be named. It should skirt the northern part of the Philippines and head in the general direction of Taiwan.
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Crude oil stayed relatively steady near $107/barrel. But Ike is coming. The Dow Jones Industrials shot up 290 to 11,511 on news of housing rescue.
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