I was out is the garden yesterday and heard a bird that I didn’t recognize. I opened up the Merlin ID app and got the name. Then I spent a few minutes listening. Heard it just now outside my window and smiled: Good morning White-eyed Vireo. I love learning about this amazing planet.

    A fascinating video about how the Earth and our solar system move through the galaxy. Our solar system takes 225 million years to orbit the galaxy. The first dinosaurs on Earth evolved the last time it was in the current positon during the the late Triassic.


    Reports that the JWST killed the reigning cosmological model have been exaggerated. But there’s still much to learn from the distant galaxies it glimpses. The galaxies’ apparent distances from Earth suggested that they formed much earlier in the history of the universe than anyone anticipated. (The farther away something is, the longer ago its light flared forth.)

    No, the James Webb Space Telescope Hasn’t Broken Cosmology | WIRED

    When Carl Sagan said that we are made of star stuff, well, here's what that looks like on the periodic table of elements and it's fascinating:

    Image Credit & License: Wikipedia: Cmglee; Data: Jennifer Johnson (OSU)

    Astronomy Picture of the Day, 2023 January 8

    “The global economy is structured around growth — the idea that firms, industries and nations must increase production every year, regardless of whether it is needed. This dynamic is driving climate change and ecological breakdown.”

    Degrowth can work — science can help

    A visually stunning documentation.

    “The most diverse group of organisms on the planet are in trouble, with recent research suggesting insect populations are declining at an unprecedented rate.”

    The collapse of insects

    Most people don’t know what early pregnancy actually looks like. That complicates abortion discussions.

    Why did images of early pregnancy cause such a firestorm on TikTok? - The Verge

    The Pillars of Creation are set off in a kaleidoscope of color in NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope’s near-infrared-light view.

    A star field with a pillar or column of orange gas and dust in the center

    Pillars of Creation (NIRCam Image)

    A small experiment on a NASA rover is tinkering with the alien atmosphere.

    Millions of miles away on Mars, in a barren crater just north of the equator, a rover is wandering around, carrying a gold-coated gadget the size of a toaster. The machine inhales the Martian air and strips away contaminants. It splits the atmospheric gas into constituent parts, takes what it needs, and then reassembles that blend to create something that is in very short supply on Mars: oxygen. Real, breathable oxygen, the kind you took in as you read these sentences.

    After a bit of analysis, the machine puffs out the oxygen, harmlessly releasing the molecules into the Martian environment. The act makes this very sophisticated toaster, situated in the belly of NASA’s Perseverance rover, the closest thing to a small tree on Mars.

    Just Like That, We’re Making Oxygen on Mars - The Atlantic

    Judy Schmidt | Flickr processes astronomical images from NASA and other space agencies. Lately she’s been working on images from JWST. Fantastic. You can also follow her work on her website.

    JWST MIRI NGC1365 JWST MIRI, Barred spiral galaxy NGC1365

    2-Color Widefield Jupiter Jupiter Widefield, NASA / ESA / CSA / Ricardo Hueso Alonso / Judy Schmidt

    A Sense of time

    As is often the case I have a tendency to become less regular in my posting here. As I was writing up a description of a recent episode of the Discovery Podcast to share on a slack channel it occurred to me that this is exactly the sort of thing I should post here. So, this was a fun podcast to listen to… about the perception of the passing of time in different animals.

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    First ever black hole image released

    This is a fantastic achievement. It measures 40 billion km across - three million times the size of the Earth - and has been described by scientists as "a monster". The black hole is 500 million trillion km away and was photographed by a network of eight telescopes across the world.

    The Beauty of Science

    Came upon this article this morning: Swarm of mysterious radio bursts seen coming from deep space Reading this article and thought I’d share for two reasons. First, it includes a very cool video that explains electromagnetism. It’s something I think everyone should have at least a basic understanding of given that it is one of the four fundamental forces of the Universe but also, it’s something we use everyday. It’s a very well done video.

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    Celebrating 40 years of Voyager

    It's often easy to become discouraged by the state of human affairs. Or maybe that's just me? The sad truth is that our various human systems, such as our political and economic systems, are not only failing us but our planet. As constantly evolving, increasingly complex systems of relationships from the families to cities to regions to nations and between nations mediated by technology which is itself increasingly powerful and complex, we seem to slip-slide at a breakneck pace.

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    I listen to a lot of podcasts and thought I might start mentioning my favorites here. I’ll begin with two recently listened to. The TED Radio Hour is a favorite and one of the latest episodes is a perfect example of why I enjoy it so much. Hardwired. I’ve given it a listen but will need to give it a second. I always know a podcast is great when many of the episodes require at least a second listen.

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    Voyager at 40

    A great thread by @justinhendrix over on Twitter: The solar eclipse Monday is set to overshadow another significant event for space nerds like me. Tomorrow, August 20th, is a special day. August 20th is the 40th anniversary of the 1977 launch of @NSFVoyager2, the first of two Voyager probes to explore the outer planets. Its sister probe, Voyager 1, was launched 16 days later. These two probes represent one of humanity’s most extraordinary achievements.

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    Understanding the eclipse by creating a to-scale demonstration of orbits and moon phases

    I was recently asked to do a presentation about the upcoming solar eclipse at our library as I am one of a small local group of amateur astronomers. I happily accepted. I always enjoy putting together Keynote presentations for such events. I spent several days last week assembling the 38 slide presentation and did the presentation last night. It seemed to go well. For one part of the presentation I used three volunteers to serve as the sun, moon, and Earth.

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    Jupiter in an amazing fly-by video

    Wired has a great post about the project. Jupiter is immense. The fifth planet from the sun has a diameter of 89,000 miles, and could easily envelop every other planet (and Pluto). The gas giant also has 2.5 times the mass of all those planets combined. Even its enormous storms boggle the mind: the Great Red Spot is big enough to contain the Earth. Photos provide glimpses of Jupiter’s grandeur, but you can’t appreciate its stunning scale without some perspective.

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    This post over at Information is Beautiful is excellent: Mavericks & Heretics.

    It’s 2017 and the struggle between reason and religion continues.


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