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Another Expert Agrees With Dark Comet Theory

February 21, 2013 – 11:31 am | No Comment

Astronomer David Asher (from Armagh University) has agreed with Bill Napier and Janaki Wickramasinghe (Cardiff University) that “dark comets” are real and dangerous.
The following quotes are from a paper by Napier and Asher published in Astronomy & Geophysics.
http://star.arm.ac.uk/preprints/2009/539.pdf

We know that about one bright comet (of absolute magnitude as bright as 7, comparable to Halley’s Comet) arrives in the visibility zone (perihelion q<5AU, say) each year from the Oort cloud. It seems to be securely established that ~1–2% of these are captured into Halleytype (HT) orbits. The dynamical lifetime of a body in such an orbit can be estimated, from which the expected number of HT comets is perhaps ~3000. The actual number of active HT comets is ~25. This discrepancy of at least two powers of 10 in the expected impact rate from comets as deduced from this theoretical argument on the one hand, and observations on the other, is …

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Gourmet Spam in Space

June 26, 2013 – 10:12 am | No Comment
Gourmet Spam in Space

In Hawaii six people are living in a geodesic dome, experimenting with they types of food that astronauts can eat when they journey to Mars. NASA have five meat products that have a long shelf life, and it is not surprising that one of them is Spam.
One of the the problems with long-distance space travel is that people soon get bored. One way of alleviating that is to add variety to their meals. Here’s one idea that was cooked up in Hawaii:

SPAM MUSUBI
Recipe Ingredients: (serving of 6)

2 cups cooked short grained Japanese rice
1 cans Spam
3 sheets nori, cut in 2″ strips lengthwise
1/3 cup shoyu
3/4 cup sugar

Instructions:

Cut Spam into 6 slices per can.
Combine sugar and shoyu in a pan over medium-low heat.
Fry spam in sugar and shoyu until mixture has thickened and Spam is slightly crispy.
Drain on absorbent towel.
Cut sheets of nori into 2 inch strips.
Using a Spam can,  cut out …

New Evidence for Super-Massive Solar Storms

December 18, 2012 – 7:39 am | No Comment
New Evidence for Super-Massive Solar Storms

Until now the largest recorded solar storm has been the Carrington Event of 1859. Scientific discussions of solar storm risks typically refer to this event. What they often neglect to mention is that we have only been observing solar storms since just before that date. The frequency of these massive storms has impossible to tell without more data.
NASA says:
“In the 160-year record of geomagnetic storms, the Carrington event is the biggest.” It’s possible to delve back even farther in time by examining arctic ice. “Energetic particles leave a record in nitrates in ice cores,” he explains. “Here again the Carrington event sticks out as the biggest in 500 years and nearly twice as big as the runner-up.”
These statistics suggest that Carrington flares are once in a half-millennium events. The statistics are far from solid, however, and Hathaway cautions that we don’t understand flares well enough to rule out a repeat …

NASA: We Told You So – 1 Week Early

December 14, 2012 – 8:55 pm | No Comment
NASA: We Told You So – 1 Week Early

To be fair, I’m probably going to write a blog post in the next few days, for release after Dec 21, explaining how the doomsday could still come even if the exact day provided by the ancient Maya was incorrect. And of course the media prepare obituaries for people who are still alive and kicking.
So, nothing wrong with it really, but here’s the video NASA are releasing when the world doesn’t end next week:
Recently, NASA scientists gathered for a Google Hangout to debunk the multiple end-of-world theories alleged to transpire later this month. NASA even put together a YouTube video titled “Why the World Didn’t End Yesterday” clearly meant to be released on December 22, after the winter solstice doomsday the day before. [via CNet]

Interestingly, this debunk gets several things wrong:

They mention that the Maya believe the world began 5,000 or so years ago. They completely neglect to mention that there were …

Doomsday 2012 Fact Sheet: Flawed

September 3, 2012 – 4:45 pm | 5 Comments
Doomsday 2012 Fact Sheet: Flawed

The source of the disinformation (once again) is David Morrison from NASA. Over at the SETI Institute is a 2012 Doomsday Fact Sheet. I’ve reproduced it in full, with my more expert opinion in red:
 

There is widespread and unnecessary fear of doomsday on December 21, 2012. Some people worry about a Maya prophesy of the end of the world, others fear a variety of astronomical threats such as collision with a rogue planet. Opinion polls suggest that one in ten Americans worry about whether they will survive past Dec 21 of this year, and middle-school teachers everywhere report that many of their students are fearful of a coming apocalypse. Following are brief facts that address these doomsday fears.
Mayan Calendar: The Maya calendar, which is made up different cycles of day counts, does not end this year. Rather, one cycle of 144,000 days (394 years) ends and the next cycle begins. …

Second Solar Storm Detector Launching in 2014

April 3, 2012 – 11:16 pm | No Comment
Second Solar Storm Detector Launching in 2014

Better late than never!
In my recent article on the incredible harm a solar storm could inflict on infrastructure, I pointed out that we only have a single line of defense, and the solar storms it detects could kill it:
When warning us about incoming geomagnetic storms, the NOAA’s only source of data is the Advanced Composition Explorer (ACE) satellite. It was launched in 1997, and according the the U.S. National Academy of Sciences in 2009, it is “well beyond its planned operational life”. I take this to mean it could fail any time, and there is no backup satellite! And all current safety measures become redundant – we won’t be able to remove vulnerable equipment from the grid before it is too late. “ACE is a single point of failure and it’s old,” said William Murtagh, program coordinator for NOAA’s Space Weather Prediction …

More Debunking from NASA

March 14, 2012 – 4:16 pm | One Comment
More Debunking from NASA

I feel like running a contest… how many more articles and videos debunking 2012 will NASA release? I’ve lost count of how many they’ve made to date. Here’s the latest:

Asteroid 2012 DA14: Earth Impact in 2013?

March 5, 2012 – 4:53 pm | 3 Comments
Asteroid 2012 DA14: Earth Impact in 2013?

An article has been appearing in blogs and at forums. It says, in part:
To avert a possible catastrophe – this time set for February 2013 – scientists suggest confronting asteroid 2012 DA14 with either paint or big guns. The stickler is that time has long run out to build a spaceship to carry out the operation.
­NASA’s data shows the 60-meter asteroid, spotted by Spanish stargazers in February, will whistle by Earth in 11 months. Its trajectory will bring it within a hair’s breadth of our planet, raising fears of a possible collision.
The asteroid, known as DA14, will pass by our planet in February 2013 at a distance of under 27,000 km (16,700 miles). This is closer than the geosynchronous orbit of some satellites.
There is a possibility the asteroid will collide with Earth, but further calculation is required to estimate the …

NASA Expert: No 2012 Supervolcano

November 17, 2011 – 5:31 pm | No Comment
NASA Expert: No 2012 Supervolcano

This is weak, weak, weak. The headline is quite definite:
Supervolcanoes: Not a Threat For 2012
But if you read the article, NASA expert Adam Voiland (not an expert really, see his resume) points out:

Volcanologists have many unanswered questions about supervolcanoes, including what triggers their eruptions, and how can we predict when the next supervolcano will erupt?
The most recent supereruption occurred in New Zealand about 26,000 years ago.
Scientists have no way of predicting with perfect accuracy whether a supervolcano will occur in a given century, decade, or year – and that includes 2012.
The odds if a supervolcano erupting in any given year is close to a million-to-one.
There’s no sign of a supereruption looming anytime soon.

On that last point, given that scientists have never witnessed such an eruption, and they don’t know what triggers them, how do they know what to look for?
For those of us that believe there were …

NASA Expert: Solar Flares Harmless

November 16, 2011 – 11:11 am | 2 Comments
NASA Expert: Solar Flares Harmless

You just know I’m going to be critical of this news item…
Dr Alex Young, a heliophysicist at Nasa’s Goddard Space Flight Center, said we don’t need to worry about the sun for another few billion years – and certainly not in 2012.

He said: ‘We understand the sun well enough, with all the technology and all the science – and all of the many spacecraft we have that are monitoring it 24 hours a day, seven days a week – to know that this super storm that is going to wipe out the earth simply isn’t going to happen.’
Yep, once more an expert has decided to ignore the concepts of global cataclysms, and TEOTWAWKI, and just address the complete destruction of planet Earth. Any 2012 survivalist obviously don’t expect that to happen… because nobody would survive.
He said that, apart from a nasty skin burn …

Satellite Crash Alert

September 19, 2011 – 4:08 pm | No Comment
Satellite Crash Alert

On September 23 2011, give or take a day, a 6.5 ton satellite will come crashing to Earth. This is fact, and the information is from NASA. The prediction is that at least 26 large pieces will survive the journey through our atmosphere. They aren’t sure exactly where they will hit, but have calculated the odds of a human being struck at 1 in 3,200.
Read about the The Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite (UARS) at Wikipedia.

Over at Space.com there is a video showing the predicted zone of impact possibilities:
http://www.space.com/12982-dead-nasa-satellite-falling-earth-sept-24.html
From viewing the video, it seems that Australia and northern Europe are safe, while parts of Africa, Asia and the Americas are at risk. The greatest likelihood is that it will crash in the Pacific Ocean, so hopefully that will be the result and not something worse (like hitting a nuclear power plant).
This reminds me of SkyLab which crashed (safely) into Australia in 1979. The odds …

Nothing Skeptical About 2012

June 10, 2011 – 1:05 pm | No Comment
Nothing Skeptical About 2012

One of the world’s leading skeptics is Michael Shermer. Not only is he the founder of the Skeptics Society, and head honcho and primary contributor for Skeptic Magazine, he has also penned an opinion piece for New Scientist this week: The End is Always Nigh in the Human Mind.
When I finished reading it I thought, WAIT A SECOND! Mr Shermer covered world wars, Karl Marx, Ayn Rand, Stephen Hawking, Noah and Y2K. And Harold Camping. No mention of the biggest end of the world story in modern history: the 2012 meme.
So I checked out the Skeptic website and the only real mention of 2012 looked quite promising…

Unfortunately 2012 is only addressed in a single article. It is written by David Morrison, who is employed by NASA to dismiss 2012. He is not a skeptic but a government spin doctor. The same article can be found at NASA.
So, it seems the …

Meteoroid Tracking / New 2012 Drink / Missing Sunspots

March 5, 2011 – 10:41 pm | One Comment
Meteoroid Tracking / New 2012 Drink / Missing Sunspots

NASA is installing a network of smart cameras across the USA to track fireballs and meteoroids. Soon there will be 15, and then they plan to expand nationwide. These cameras are automated and linked together so that they can triangulate paths and orbits. If NASA was expecting an influx of fireballs (and alternative media outlets are suggesting this is already happening), such data could prove to be important. But it could just be that NASA’s Meteoroid Environment Office is wanting to he more helpful when they get phone calls from the public. More info at PhysOrg, and the official NASA site has live and historical images from the cameras.

According to the website of Australia’s antidote to “energy drinks”, esc, if you are concerned about 2012, their drink will let you Escape into a zen state of mind!

The latest in a long line of solar cycle theories has just been published …

Space Storm Alert

April 20, 2009 – 5:37 am | 5 Comments
Space Storm Alert

It is midnight on 22 September 2012 and the skies above Manhattan are filled with a flickering curtain of colourful light. Few New Yorkers have seen the aurora this far south but their fascination is short-lived. Within a few seconds, electric bulbs dim and flicker, then become unusually bright for a fleeting moment. Then all the lights in the state go out. Within 90 seconds, the entire eastern half of the US is without power.
A year later and millions of Americans are dead and the nation’s infrastructure lies in tatters. The World Bank declares America a developing nation. Europe, Scandinavia, China and Japan are also struggling to recover from the same fateful event – a violent storm, 150 million kilometres away on the surface of the sun.
Rather catastrophic stuff for a New Scientist article! However the reason they are reporting it is because the threat is very real indeed. They …

NASA: Impact of Solar Flare

March 11, 2009 – 6:20 pm | One Comment
NASA: Impact of Solar Flare

NASA’s 132-page report, entitled Severe Space Weather Events — Understanding Societal and Economic Impacts, paints a pretty grim picture of the damage that could occur in the USA (and presumably elsewhere in the world) due to severe space weather:
According to the report, power grids may be more vulnerable than ever. The problem is interconnectedness. In recent years, utilities have joined grids together to allow long-distance transmission of low-cost power to areas of sudden demand. On a hot summer day in California, for instance, people in Los Angeles might be running their air conditioners on power routed from Oregon. It makes economic sense—but not necessarily geomagnetic sense. Interconnectedness makes the system susceptible to wide-ranging “cascade failures.”
…He found more than 350 transformers at risk of permanent damage and 130 million people without power. The loss of electricity would ripple across the social infrastructure with “water distribution affected within several hours; perishable foods …

NASA: Solar Cycle 24 may have begun

December 16, 2007 – 1:55 am | 2 Comments
NASA: Solar Cycle 24 may have begun

It could be starting now.
“New solar cycles always begin with a high-latitude, reversed polarity sunspot,” explains Hathaway. “Reversed polarity ” means a sunspot with opposite magnetic polarity compared to sunspots from the previous solar cycle. “High-latitude” refers to the sun’s grid of latitude and longitude. Old cycle spots congregate near the sun’s equator. New cycle spots appear higher, around 25 or 30 degrees latitude.
The region that appeared on Dec. 11th fits both these criteria. It is high latitude (24 degrees N) and magnetically reversed. Just one problem: There is no sunspot. So far the region is just a bright knot of magnetic fields. If, however, these fields coalesce into a dark sunspot, scientists are ready to announce that Solar Cycle 24 has officially begun.