Partial Solar Eclipse, October 23rd

A semi-rare event will occur here in the US on Thursday. A partial solar eclipse will occur late in the afternoon. The best viewing will be west of the Mississippi to the left, uhhh, west coast. The eclipse will start around 4:30pm and peak at 5:45pm CDT.

Partial Solar Eclipse, October 23rd, 2014

If you want to see the eclipse, remember, NEVER look directly at the sun. You can permanently damage your eyes. You can make a viewer using a sheet of think paper with a small 1/4″ hole in the middle. Hold the paper in the sunlight. In the shadow created by the paper is the outline of the sun and the eclipse.

Another method is to use a medium-sized cardboard box, say a foot on a side with the top removed. Make a small hole in the middle of one side of the box. When that side of the box is presented to the sun, the image of the eclipse will be shown on the opposite side of the box.

Here is a link to a calculator (the chart below was created with this calculator) that will provide viewing times for your location.

Event Time in Kansas City Direction Altitude Looks like Comments
Partial Eclipse begins Oct 23 at 4:36 PM 237°West-southwest 18.9° Eclipse as seen from earth The Moon touches the Sun’s edge.
Maximum Eclipse Oct 23 at 5:45 PM 249°West-southwest 7.0° Eclipse as seen from earth Moon is closest to the center of the Sun.
Sun close to horizon, so make sure you have free sight to West-southwest.
Sunset Oct 23 at 6:27 PM 256°West-southwest 0.2° below Not directly visible Below horizon
Partial Eclipse ends Oct 23 at 6:47 PM 256°West-southwest 0.2° below Not directly visible Below horizon

This eclipse is in progress during sunrise or sunset, so the Sun is displayed only partly in some phases, according to its altitude below the horizon. The animation’s bottom edge represents an ideal, flat horizon, which is at the same altitude as the observer.

Times are local for Kansas City (CDT – Central Daylight Time).

Happy viewing!

It’s not what you know, it’s…

…what you know that is wrong!

That is a paraphrased quote attributed to Will Rogers. It’s one all too many people overlook. It reminds me of a TV commercial where a woman claims that everything on the internet is true. I hate to disappoint folks, but that could not be further from the truth.

Even the most cynical of us get taken in at times.  My wife and I realized last night that we’d been taken in on one, too. Morgan-FreemanWe like Morgan Freeman, the actor. We don’t care for his politics but we do like his acting. We’d heard a few months ago that he’d died. We checked some sources and they confirmed his death. They were wrong. He’s alive and well.

I noticed that he’s in a number of movies that are just now being released and wondered that he knew his end was coming and tried to finish as many as he could given his remaining time. That lead to question of what caused his death.  I did some research and, lo!, discovered Morgan Freeman is alive and well and the numerous reports of his death were hoaxes.

Like I said at the beginning, It’s not what you know that causes problems, it’s what you know that is wrong that causes problems. We see examples all around us. Global Warming is a good example. The climatologists who started the hoax cherry-picked data to support their position. They claimed that Himalayan glaciers were shrinking. The half dozen they chose for examples were shrinking. However the hundred-plus other glaciers in that mountain range weren’t—in fact they were growing!

Then there was the reports of average temperature rising. They were—at the points being measured. What they failed to inform the public was that many of the monitoring stations that had been in rural areas were moved to metropolitan sites to aid aeronautic weather reporting. Locally, our Lees Summit airport now has automated reporting for pilots. That station didn’t exist a decade ago.

When more automated stations are located in or near metro area, the averages—of those stations, will rise. However when you average ALL of the weather stations, no temperature rise was found.

Metro areas do have higher temperatures than rural areas—all those people, cars and concrete to absorb heat from the sun. When you manipulate the source of the data collection, you change the validity of that data.

Collectively, I call these examples as exercises in pseudo-science. All too often, we believe what we want to believe contrary to the facts. Those beliefs can extend from the belief that cell phones interfere with electronics and sound systems, to the belief that vaccinations cause autism. I was taken to task for that last one, vilified and attacked for pointing out that the original study that created the belief of vaccinations causing autism, was based on a hoax.

Retracted autism study an ‘elaborate fraud,’ British journal finds

By the CNN Wire Staff ,January 5, 2011 8:14 p.m. EST

(CNN) — A now-retracted British study that linked autism to childhood vaccines was an “elaborate fraud” that has done long-lasting damage to public health, a leading medical publication reported Wednesday.

An investigation published by the British medical journal BMJ concludes the study’s author, Dr. Andrew Wakefield, misrepresented or altered the medical histories of all 12 of the patients whose cases formed the basis of the 1998 study — and that there was “no doubt” Wakefield was responsible.

“It’s one thing to have a bad study, a study full of error, and for the authors then to admit that they made errors,” Fiona Godlee, BMJ’s editor-in-chief, told CNN. “But in this case, we have a very different picture of what seems to be a deliberate attempt to create an impression that there was a link by falsifying the data.”

Britain stripped Wakefield of his medical license in May. “Meanwhile, the damage to public health continues, fueled by unbalanced media reporting and an ineffective response from government, researchers, journals and the medical profession,” BMJ states in an editorial accompanying the work.

The now-discredited paper panicked many parents and led to a sharp drop in the number of children getting the vaccine that prevents measles, mumps and rubella. Vaccination rates dropped sharply in Britain after its publication, falling as low as 80% by 2004. Measles cases have gone up sharply in the ensuing years.

In the United States, more cases of measles were reported in 2008 than in any other year since 1997, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. More than 90% of those infected had not been vaccinated or their vaccination status was unknown, the CDC reported.

“But perhaps as important as the scare’s effect on infectious disease is the energy, emotion and money that have been diverted away from efforts to understand the real causes of autism and how to help children and families who live with it,” the BMJ editorial states.

Wakefield has been unable to reproduce his results in the face of criticism, and other researchers have been unable to match them. Most of his co-authors withdrew their names from the study in 2004 after learning he had had been paid by a law firm that intended to sue vaccine manufacturers — a serious conflict of interest he failed to disclose. After years on controversy, the Lancet, the prestigious journal that originally published the research, retracted Wakefield’s paper last February.

I’ve heard that a number of lawsuits have been filed against physicians and vaccine manufacturers based on his hoaxed study. Given human nature to try to find blame, somewhere, for their misfortunes, I wouldn’t be surprised.

We’re in an era of exploding scientific research and exploding dissemination of information without restraint nor constraint. We cannot take individual reports at face value, we must do our own due diligence and validate, as best we can, our information and sources personally.

Always remember…

“It’s not what we don’t know that hurts. It’s what we know that ain’t so.”

Will Rogers

More proof that AGW is a hoax!

A study reported in Science Daily indicates that the percentage of Carbon Dioxide in the atmosphere hasn’t changed in the last 160 years. Really? If that’s the case, then how can the “dramatic increase” of carbon dioxide be melting the Arctic ice cap and glaciers around the world? Or, more likely, the ice caps and glaciers aren’t melting as reported. And, just to throw in this little bit, if the Arctic ice cap is melting, why is the Antarctic ice cap growing? Would AGW affect both? I guess those questions are just inconsequential. After all, if Algore says it, it must be true! **Snort!**

Following my post about NASA on the carbon dioxide absorption for California comes this tidbit from the Science Daily.

No Rise of Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide Fraction in Past 160 Years, New Research Finds

New research finds that the airborne fraction of carbon dioxide has not increased either during the past 150 years or during the most recent five decades, contrary to some recent studies. (Credit: iStockphoto)

ScienceDaily (Dec. 31, 2009) — Most of the carbon dioxide emitted by human activity does not remain in the atmosphere, but is instead absorbed by the oceans and terrestrial ecosystems. In fact, only about 45 percent of emitted carbon dioxide stays in the atmosphere.

However, some studies have suggested that the ability of oceans and plants to absorb carbon dioxide recently may have begun to decline and that the airborne fraction of anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions is therefore beginning to increase.

Many climate models also assume that the airborne fraction will increase. Because understanding of the airborne fraction of carbon dioxide is important for predicting future climate change, it is essential to have accurate knowledge of whether that fraction is changing or will change as emissions increase.

To assess whether the airborne fraction is indeed increasing, Wolfgang Knorr of the Department of Earth Sciences at the University of Bristol reanalyzed available atmospheric carbon dioxide and emissions data since 1850 and considers the uncertainties in the data.

In contradiction to some recent studies, he finds that the airborne fraction of carbon dioxide has not increased either during the past 150 years or during the most recent five decades.

The research is published in Geophysical Research Letters.

Now this just might be useful if the cost can be controlled.

I was doing my morning scan of headlines and came across this bit of scientific news.

Scientists develop mobile phone battery that can be charged in just 10 seconds

The article continues that the new battery, developed by MIT, could overcome an issue with electric cars—the period of time it takes to recharge the battery. With this new battery, an electric car battery could be recharged in the period of time it takes to fill a conventional car’s tank.

If the cost of these batteries, their usable lifetime and the cost of a re-charge could be retained in the same range as that of a conventional gas-burning automobile, we may have a real challenger to the internal combustion engine.

From the article…

The quick-charge battery is the brainchild of engineers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

The MIT team say their invention uses materials already available to battery manufacturers and would be simple to mass produce.

The invention is based on conventional lithium ion rechargeable batteries found in most cameras, phones and portable computers.

Life on Mars?

The UK SUN News has proclaimed, “Life on Mars!” Using a press release from NASA, the SUN has made a leap of faith to make this proclamation from the NASA report.

What NASA is reporting is that methane has been detected in the atmosphere of some regions on Mars. The assumption is that the methane has been produced by some Martian life-form. The NASA report indicates that life is one of two possible sources for the gas.

RELEASE : 09-006

Discovery of Methane Reveals Mars Is Not a Dead Planet

WASHINGTON — A team of NASA and university scientists has achieved the first definitive detection of methane in the atmosphere of Mars. This discovery indicates the planet is either biologically or geologically active.

The current working assumption for extra-terrestrial life is that life must be carbon based (as on Earth) must metabolize oxygen and/or carbon-dioxide (for photosynthesis) and require liquid water. That is certainly an Earth centric viewpoint.

I’ve been a science fiction reader all my life from the time I first read Jules Verne in my elementary school’s library. It is my belief that life off earth exists. The sheer probability of the number of earth-like planets in the universe supports this belief.

With that said, I’m not about to jump to the conclusion of life on Mars based solely on the presence of a gas—a gas that could have been produced by volcanic activity. Mars has volcanoes. Olympus Mons is the largest volcano yet found in our solar system. Certainly it is larger than any on Earth. Before I jump of the “Life on Mars!” bandwagon, I’d like someone to actually go there, find some forms of life and publish that fact in a recognized peer journal, not some sleazy, yellow-sheet in the UK.

Put me down as skeptical, but hopeful on this issue.