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Saturday, March 23, 2013


It's Saturday, here are some infocandy for your mind:

1.  The U.S. economy is doing remarkably well compared to our competitors.  Relative to the 2007/8 peak:

We are the only major country in the plus.  Greece, of course is suffering, but bet you didn't know China continues to despair?

2.  Is outer space a vacuum?  No.  Throughout the Universe there are 100-1,000 molecules per cubic centimeters.  Our atmosphere at sea level has 100 billion billion (quintillion)/cc molecules, with 92% hydrogen,  almost 8% helium, and the remaining one tenth of one percent, 180 other types of molecules.  Who cares?  Astrochemists, who now have a new toy, the Atacama Large Millimeter / sub millimeter Array (ALMA) in northern Chile.  There are 66 dishes at an elevation of 16,400 feet and cost $1.3 billion, mostly paid for by the USA and European Union.

3.  What is the most abundant organism on Planet Earth?  No, not ants, nor some type of bacteria...but a virus, for now known as HTVC(010)P.  While indeed ubiquitous, Pelagibacter unique, a bacterium, was once considered to be the most prevalent, being from a quarter to half of all the living cells in the ocean. No more, for there are 1000 times more viruses than bacteria, and a 100 billion times more of them than all the stars in the known universe.  This Smithsonian article was not clear, but that dish to the right could well be this virus.

4.  Hurricane Katrina in 2005 officially caused $81 billion of damage.  The eventual cost of Hurricane Sandy last year could reach $60 billion.  The Japanese government this week revealed a 400-page report showing that a 9.0 (same magnitude as the one that undid Fukushima two years ago) earthquake off the coast of central Japan could kill more than 320,000 people, displace 9.5 million and cause $2.3 trillion in damage.  The scary thing is that a major earthquake occurs in this Nankai Trough every 100-150 years, and last big one was 159 years ago.  And I'll be there in a week.  Are the Japanese just being paranoid?  Well, the two most expensive natural disasters in history occurred in Japan:

  #1  $235 billion    2022  The Great Tohoku earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster

  #2  $100 billion    1995  Kobe earthquake

  #3  $  81 billion    2005  Hurricane Katrina


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