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Apr. 22nd, 2014

Earth Day 2014

"The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner, how frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that, in glory and triumph, they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot.

Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves. The Earth is the only world known so far to harbor life. There is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which our species could migrate. Visit, yes. Settle, not yet. Like it or not, for the moment the Earth is where we make our stand.

It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we've ever known."


Carl Sagan, Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space

There Was No First Human

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Apr. 19th, 2014

Kepler-186f

For the first time, scientists have discovered an Earth-size alien planet in the habitable zone of its host star, an "Earth cousin" that just might have liquid water and the right conditions for life. The newfound planet, called Kepler-186f, was first spotted by NASA's Kepler space telescope and circles a dim red dwarf star about 490 light-years from Earth. While the host star is dimmer than Earth's sun and the planet is slightly bigger than Earth, the positioning of the alien world coupled with its size suggests that Kepler-186f could have water on its surface, scientists say. "One of the things we've been looking for is maybe an Earth twin, which is an Earth-size planet in the habitable zone of a sunlike star," Tom Barclay, Kepler scientist and co-author of the new exoplanet research, told Space.com.

Scientists think that Kepler-186f — the outermost of five planets found to be orbiting the star Kepler-186 — orbits at a distance of 32.5 million miles (52.4 million kilometers), theoretically within the habitable zone for a red dwarf. Earth orbits the sun from an average distance of about 93 million miles (150 million km), but the sun is larger and brighter than the Kepler-186 star, meaning that the sun's habitable zone begins farther out from the star by comparison to Kepler-186. "This is the first definitive Earth-sized planet found in the habitable zone around another star," Elisa Quintana, of the SETI Institute and NASA's Ames Research Center and the lead author of a new study detailing the findings, said in a statement. Other planets of various sizes have been found in the habitable zones of their stars.

 

However, Kepler-186f is the first alien planet this close to Earth in size found orbiting in that potentially life-supporting area of an extrasolar system!


Kemo D. 7

Space Art by Michael Böhme

Apr. 17th, 2014

#throwback thursday

This is a pic. of me from 1999 when I was in College in Holland. Back then I had longer hair. I miss the college days..


Kemo D. 7

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Apr. 16th, 2014

Mysteries

Supernovas are the spectacular ends to the lives of many massive stars. These explosions, which occur on average twice a century in the Milky Way, can produce enormous amounts of energy and be as bright as an entire galaxy. These events are also important because the remains of the shattered star are hurled into space. As this debris field — called a supernova remnant — expands, it carries the material it encounters along with it. Astronomers have identified a supernova remnant that has several unusual properties. First, they found that this supernova remnant, known as G352.7-0.1 (G352), has swept up a remarkable amount of material, equivalent to about 45 times the mass of the Sun. Another atypical trait of G352 is that it has a very different shape in radio data compared to that in X-rays.

A recent study suggests, surprisingly, that the X-ray emission in G352 is dominated by the hotter (about 54 million degrees Fahrenheit [30 million degrees Celsius]) debris from the explosion, rather than cooler (about 4 million degrees F [2 million degrees C]) emission from surrounding material that has been swept up by the expanding shock wave. This is curious because astronomers estimate that G352 exploded about 2,200 years ago, and supernova remnants of this age usually produce X-rays that are dominated by swept-up material. Scientists are still trying to come up with an explanation for this behavior. Although it does not produce a lot of X-ray emission, the amount of material swept up by G352 is remarkably high for a supernova remnant located in our galaxy.

 

Kemo D. 7

Mind Games

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Apr. 7th, 2014

Movie of the Month

I saw Capitan America 2: The Winter Solider in IMAX 3D over the weekend and really enjoyed it. I can't decide if it's better than the 1st one or not but overall great movie.


Kemo D. 7

Apr. 4th, 2014

To understand our climate future, look to the past

Modern human civilization is fragile — fragile to crop failures, droughts, and extreme weather. We are extremely susceptible to energy and water shortages. We don't fully understand complex, chaotic systems like Earth's climate. And yet, we are rapidly changing the composition of the atmosphere, even though the archeological record shows the difficulty that our ancestors had in adapting to previous rapid climate changes. That seems suicidally reckless. Man-made climate change is a massive problem — the species-threatening challenge of our time. And yet, most people struggle to grasp why it is so important.

 

Click here to read the whole story...

Person of the Year

Angelina Jolie is such a amazing woman! Not only is she a great actress but she also promotes humanitarian causes, and is noted for her work with refugees as a Special Envoy and former Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Last week she visited Bosnia to lay flowers at a cemetery for the victims of the Srebrenica massacre, Europe's worst massacre since World War Two. Angelina, you have my utmost respect.

 

Kemo D. 7

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Apr. 3rd, 2014

#throwback thursday

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Apr. 2nd, 2014

To All Climate Change Deniers

Shane Smith's powerful response to climate change deniers;

I generally like Forbes. The people there provide a good platform for high-quality content, and they have written many nice things about us. I was therefore surprised to read this piece of garbage by John Tamny, which Forbes published this weekend.

Click here to read the rest...

 

Mar. 31st, 2014

A Personal Message to Square Enix

As a fan of Japanese RPG games I was really looking forward to earn the platinum trophy for one my favorite Square Enix games called "Final Fantasy X" that recently came out in HD. Unfortunately that's no longer possible because of 2 specific trophies in the game that I and many other players in the gaming community haven't been able to complete. The trophies are called "Chocobo Rider" and "Chocobo Master". The challenges associated with the trophies are extremely luck and not skill based. After trying to complete the challenges countless times I came to realize that it's almost impossible because your success depends on luck and that's very frustrating. I'm deeply disappointed in Square Enix and the development team who worked on this game. This experience took all the satisfaction out of the game and unless Square Enix releases a patch or an update to address this issue I will never buy another Square Enix product. I've also cancelled my subscription to "Final Fantasy 14: A Realm Reborn..."

 

Kemo D. 7

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Mar. 23rd, 2014

Dystopia

UN scientists are set to deliver their darkest report yet on the impacts of climate change, pointing to a future stalked by floods, drought, conflict and economic damage if carbon emissions go untamed. A draft of their report, seen by AFP, is part of a massive overview by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), likely to shape policies and climate talks for years to come. Scientists and government representatives will meet in Yokohama, Japan, from Tuesday to hammer out a 29-page summary. It will be unveiled with the full report on March 31. "We have a lot clearer picture of impacts and their consequences... including the implications for security," said Chris Field of the United States' Carnegie Institution, who headed the probe.

The work comes six months after the first volume in the long-awaited Fifth Assessment Report declared scientists were more certain than ever that humans caused global warming. It predicted global temperatures would rise 0.3-4.8 degrees Celsius (0.5-8.6 degrees Fahrenheit) this century, adding to roughly 0.7 C since the Industrial Revolution. Seas will creep up by 26-82 centimeters (10.4-32.8 inches) by 2100. The draft warns costs will spiral with each additional degree, although it is hard to forecast by how much. Warming of 2.5 C over pre-industrial times -- 0.5 C more than the UN's target -- may cost 0.2-2.0 percent of global annual income, a figure that could amount to hundreds of billions of dollars each year. Among the perils listed in the draft are these:

-- FLOODING: Rising greenhouse-gas emissions will "significantly" boost the risk of floods, with Europe and Asia particularly exposed. In the highest warming scenarios of untamed greenhouse gas emissions, three times as many people will be exposed to severe river flooding as with lower warming.

- DROUGHT: For every 1 C (1.8 F) rise in temperature, another seven percent of the world's population will see renewable water resources decline by a fifth.

- RISING SEAS: If no measures are taken, "hundreds of millions" of coastal dwellers will be displaced by 2100. Small-island states and East, Southeast and South Asia will be the biggest land-losers.

- HUNGER: Average yields of wheat, rice and corn may fall by two percent per decade, while demand for crops is likely to rise by up to 14 percent by 2050 as Earth's population grows. The crunch will hit poor, tropical countries worst.

- SPECIES LOSS: A "large fraction" of land and freshwater species may risk extinction, their habitat destroyed by climate change.

- Security threat -
Poverty, migration and hunger are invisible drivers of turbulence and war, as they sharpen competition for dwindling resources, the report warns.

 

"Climate change over the 21st century will lead to new challenges to states and will increasingly shape national security policies," its draft summary says.


Kemo D. 7

Art by Paul Christopher

Mar. 20th, 2014

It's finally Spring!

March 20th marks the Spring Equinox, better known as the first day of Spring. And after a brutal winter season bummed out much of the U.S. for six straight months, the equinox is a welcome sign that hey, it might actually get warmer. The happy news is already trending on Twitter, and Google is celebrating the occasion with an awesome animated Doodle showing a cartoon man watering seeds. So though it’s technically the first day of Spring, it’s looking pretty cold out there across much of the country. Those temps should warm up throughout the day. Now put on your best pastel outfit and maybe even think about having lunch outside. It’s SPRING!

 

Kemo D. 7

Mar. 10th, 2014

Flight 370

Why we deserve to know but can't handle the truth... Everything we know about ourselves will be called into question, and there will be those who won't be able to cope with the "new" reality. As humans we are stressed out, addicted, overworked, and armed to the teeth. We're still battling poverty and racism. We're still debating whether a woman should have a right to an abortion, or whether healthcare is a universal right or a privilege only the rich can afford. Let's face it: we're not exactly ahead of the curve... So when unexplained things happen, like the flight 370, they need to be explained to avoid mass panic scenarios that could change the foundation of our civilization. The outcome of flight 370 will be the same as in most cases.. I have the feeling that the "wreckage" will be found in a remote part of the jungle. It will probably be in a canyon that's hard to see from the air and most bodies will be beyond recognition... And that's gonna be the official story but what really happened to flight 370 will always remain a mystery to everyone else except the few who can handle the truth.

 

Kemo D. 7

Mar. 3rd, 2014

Oscars 2014

Congratulations to all the winners! It was a great show and Ellen did an awesome job. I was rooting for Sandra Bullock because she's one of my favorite actresses but Cate Blanchett is also very talented so congratulations to her.

 

Kemo D. 7

Feb. 28th, 2014

Facts About Climate Change

A slowdown in the pace of global warming so far this century is likely to be only a pause in a longer-term trend of rising temperatures, the science academies of the United States and Britain said on Thursday. Since an exceptionally warm 1998, there has been "a short-term slowdown in the warming of Earth's surface," Britain's Royal Society and the U.S. National Academy of Sciences said in a report. But, they said, that "does not invalidate our understanding of long-term changes in global temperature arising from human-induced changes in greenhouse gases."

The warming slowdown has emboldened those who question the evidence about climate change and ask whether a shift in investments towards renewable energies such as wind and solar power, advocated by many experts, is really needed. But the report said that scientists were "very confident" that the planet would warm further this century, causing more extreme heatwaves, droughts and rising seas.

A build-up of greenhouse gases from human activities, mainly the burning of fossil fuels, is warming the atmosphere and the oceans, raising sea levels and melting Arctic ice, the report said, supporting the long-held view of a U.N. panel of climate scientists. It projected that temperatures would rise by between 2.6 and 4.8 Celsius (4.7-8.6 F) by 2100 unless governments took strong action to limit rising emissions of greenhouse gases, broadly in line with U.N. estimates. Temperatures have gained about 0.8 C (1.4 F) since the 19th century.

 

Almost 200 nations have agreed to work out a deal by the end of 2015 to combat climate change.


Kemo D. 7

Feb. 26th, 2014

Geoengineering

Current schemes to minimize the havoc caused by global warming by purposefully manipulating Earth's climate are likely to either be relatively useless or actually make things worse, researchers say in a new study. The dramatic increase in carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere since the Industrial Revolution is expected to cause rising global sea levels, more-extreme weather and other disruptions to regional and local climates. Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas that traps heat, so as levels of the gas rise, the planet overall warms. In addition to efforts to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, some have suggested artificially manipulating the world's climate in a last-ditch effort to prevent catastrophic climate change. These strategies, considered radical in some circles, are known as geoengineering or climate engineering.

Large-scale human engineering of the Earth's climate to prevent catastrophic global warming would not only be ineffective but would have severe unintended side effects and could not be safely stopped, a comparison of five proposed methods has concluded. Science academies around the world as well as some climate activists have called for more research into geoengineering techniques, such as reflecting sunlight from space, adding vast quantities of lime or iron filings to the oceans, pumping deep cold nutrient-rich waters to the surface of oceans and irrigating vast areas of the north African and Australian deserts to grow millions of trees. Each method has been shown to potentially reduce temperature on a planetary scale.

But researchers at the Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel, Germany, modelled these five potential methods and concluded that geoengineering could add chaos to complex and not fully understood weather systems. The potential side effects would be potentially disastrous, say the scientists. Ocean upwelling, or the bringing up of deep cold waters, would cool surface water temperatures and reduce sea ice melting, but would unbalance the global heat budget, while adding iron filings or lime would affect the oxygen levels in the oceans. Reflecting the sun's rays into space would alter rainfall patterns and reforesting the deserts could change wind patterns and could even reduce tree growth in other regions.

 

In addition, say the scientists, two of the five methods considered could not be safely stopped.


Kemo D. 7

Feb. 23rd, 2014

Pompeii

I saw Pompeii in 3D yesterday and it's a wonderful movie. Emily Browning looked stunning on the big screen and did a great job. It's a movie about a slave-turned-gladiator who finds himself in a race against time to save his true love, who has been betrothed to a corrupt Roman Senator. As Mount Vesuvius erupts, he must fight to save his beloved as Pompeii crumbles around him. I loved the story! The special effects are great and the soundtrack is mesmerizing. I would highly suggest this movie to everyone.


Kemo D. 7

Feb. 15th, 2014

Lasting Images

One year later, the impact of the surprise Russian meteor explosion is still being felt all over the world. On Feb. 15, 2013, a 65-foot-wide (20 meters) asteroid detonated in the skies over the Russian city of Chelyabinsk, causing millions of dollars of damage and injuring 1,500 people. The dramatic event served as a wake-up call, many scientists say, alerting the world to the dangers posed by the millions of space rocks that reside in Earth's neck of the cosmic woods. These types of events are no longer hypothetical...

Note: I'm very busy at the moment and will only update my journal once or twice a month. Thanks for stopping by to read my journal.

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