Here in Alberta, Canada, it's been a frigging miserable summer so far: cold, full of rain and precious little sun. For weeks, I've been mumbling under my breath, in tooth-grinding resentment, that I should have stayed in Mexico for the rest of the year. I'm not asking for much, just a few weeks of clear skies and a temperature that peaks over 20°C for a few days in a row. Not everyone in the world, however, have the same aspirations. According to data interpreted by the Copernicus Climate Change Service (a European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts joint,) This past month was the hottest June in recorded European history.
From The CCCS:
Summer has barely begun, but temperature records are already being broken. Data released today show that the European-average temperature for June 2019 was higher than for any other June on record. Average temperatures were more than 2°C above normal and it has become the hottest June ever recorded.
Although not as persistent as that of summer 2018, this short heat wave, caused by a mass of hot air coming from the Sahara Desert, was intense. The five days of unusually high temperatures followed days with record-breaking temperatures further east in Europe. This led to the month as a whole being around 1°C above the previous record for June, set in 1999, and about 1°C higher than expected from the trend in recent decades.
The report goes on to mention that linking the temperature increase directly to climate change is a bit tricky as "...such extreme weather events are expected to become more common as the planet continues to warm under increasing greenhouse gas concentrations." So uh, yeah... Read the rest
Planet Labs did an interesting spin on the standard straight down satellite shots: they angled the camera from 280 miles up, turning cities like Houston, shown above, into charming miniatures. Read the rest
Over the weekend, flat-Earther and DIY rocketeer Mike Hughes tried again to launch himself into space. Unfortunately, he failed. As a result, his belief that the Earth isn't round stands. The Washington Post has been following Hughes's misadventures:
All critics would be silenced, Hughes promised then, when he finally launched on private property outside the town of Amboy, Calif., on Saturday....
“I pulled the plunger five different times,” Hughes said. “I considered beating on the rocket nozzle from the underneath side. But you can't get anyone under there. It'll kill you. It'll scald you to death. It'll blow the skin and muscle off your bones.”..
Hughes's plans are unclear now. He said he'd take apart the rocket to see what went wrong, but he has commitments to think of besides science. He was supposed to be in court on Tuesday, he told the crowd, because he was suing the governor of California for unspecified reasons. He was also trying to claim the legal right to Charles Manson's guitar. He is a man of many ambitions...
“Guys, I'm sorry,” Hughes said. “What can you do?”
"A flat-earther finally tried to fly away. His rocket didn’t even ignite." (Washington Post)
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From NASA: "On November 9, 1969, the uncrewed Apollo 4 test flight made a great ellipse around Earth as a test of the translunar motors and of the high speed entry required of a crewed flight returning from the Moon. A 70mm camera was programmed to look out a window toward Earth, and take a series of photographs from "high apogee." Coastal Brazil, Atlantic Ocean, West Africa, Antarctica, looking west. This photograph was made as the Apollo 4 spacecraft, still attached to the S-IVB (third) stage, orbited Earth at an altitude of 9,544 miles."
Image Credit: NASA Read the rest
It sure feels flat, right? (Life Noggin)
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Google's Earth Outreach just published a series of nifty decades-long views of how world landmarks of changed, like this one of the Aral Sea from 1984 to present. Some of them are like watching slime molds grow: Read the rest
I'm ashamed to admit that I never learned much about the International Space Station. But after seeing the IMAX 3D documentary A Beautiful Planet, I feel like I spent 45 minutes in it, and it was emotional and thrilling. I'm normally not a big fan of 3D movies, but the quality was so high that it didn't bother me and instead made the experience of learning about life inside the ISS that much better.
I was enthralled the entire time I watched the movie. I felt like I was floating in the ISS, observing the astronauts right in front of me as they ate, cut their hair, made espresso, helped each other get into their spacesuits, and played the bagpipes. I remember reading somewhere that one of the requirements of being an astronaut is that you can't be arrogant or have a big ego because those aren't good traits to have when you live in close quarters for months on end with other people. The astronauts on the ISS all seemed very smart, good natured, and kind. I wanted to hug them all.
The movie, which is narrated by Jennifer Lawrence, is called A Beautiful Planet because the main star of the show is our planet as filmed by crew of the ISS. We've all seen images of the Earth from space, but to see them in 3D on giant screen in crystal clarity is another experience altogether. My 13-year-old daughter was shocked by the nighttime footage of South and North Korea. Read the rest
In China, teens and twentysomethings are wearing little plastic accessories on their heads in the shape of tiny little sprouts, fruit, or flowers. Nobody's exactly sure where or how the trend started, but it's... growing.
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Fun little short documentary from the Atlantic on YouTube, in which you meet people who build, live in, and love treehouses. Gotta be honest here, this is very much a lifelong passion and dream of mine.
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The origin of this "large face" on the side of a cliff remains unknown. Read the rest
Here's a larger size, and a zoomable 3.2 gigapixel version, which you really have to see to appreciate the whole thing. Read the rest
This image shows magnetic anomalies in the South Pacific — underwater lines where the crust of the Earth either matches up with the planet's overall magnetic polarity (reds and purples) or is completely reversed (blues). Invisible to the naked eye, these stripes run along all of Earth's ocean basins. We first noticed them in the 1950s and, at first, they were a giant mystery. Why would there be these distinct lines of magnetism, and why would the lines fluctuate in their polarity? As Chris Rowan explains at the Highly Allochthonous blog, the answer ended up being a key part of proving that chunks of the Earth's crust were moving away from each other.
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Fred Vine and Drummond Matthews thought through the consequences of the hypothesis put forward by Harry Hess, that new oceanic crust was being continuously produced by the eruption of basalt at mid-ocean ridges. When combined with the facts that newly cooled basalt has a strong remanent magnetisation aligned with the ambient magnetic field, and that the Earth’s magnetic field reverses its polarity every million years or so. Vine and Matthews* argued that if seafloor spreading was indeed occurring at mid-ocean ridges, then linear positive and negative magnetic anomalies, formed from crust produced in normal and reversed polarity chrons, would form a symmetric pattern around the mid-ocean ridges, which is exactly what we see.
It's not the work of aliens. Instead, you can chalk these crop circles up to humans + money + time. And, with the help of satellite imaging, you can watch as humans use money to change the desert over the course of almost 30 years.
Landsat is a United States satellite program that's been in operation since 1972. Eight different satellites (three of them still up there and functioning) have gathered images from all over the world for decades. This data is used to help scientists studying agriculture, geology, and forestry. It's also been used for surveillance and disaster relief.
Now, at Google, you can look at images taken from eight different sites between 1984 and 2012 and and watch as people change the face of the planet. In one set of images, you can watch agriculture emerge from the deserts of Saudi Arabia — little green polka-dots of irrigation popping up against a vast swath of tan. In another se, you'll see the deforestation of the Amazon. A third, the growth of Las Vegas. It's a fascinating view of how we shape the world around us, in massive ways, over a relatively short period of time. Read the rest
The Van Allen Belts are donut-shaped rings of radioactive particles that encircle the Earth. They can damage satellites and pose a bit of a risk for human astronauts who venture outside our planet's protective magnetic field and into the regions of the belts. Back in high school, you probably learned that there were two of them. But, it turns out, under certain situations, this planet actually has three Van Allen Belts. The story about this at Nature News, written by , is a joy to read. You really get a sense of how totally scientists' minds were blown by this discovery. Read the rest
Today is the 40th anniversary of the "Blue Marble," the iconic photo taken by the crew of the Apollo 17. More on the photo and its impact at LIFE.com and Wikipedia. Here's NASA's original caption:
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View of the Earth as seen by the Apollo 17 crew traveling toward the moon. This translunar coast photograph extends from the Mediterranean Sea area to the Antarctica south polar ice cap. This is the first time the Apollo trajectory made it possible to photograph the south polar ice cap. Note the heavy cloud cover in the Southern Hemisphere. Almost the entire coastline of Africa is clearly visible. The Arabian Peninsula can be seen at the northeastern edge of Africa. The large island off the coast of Africa is Madagascar. The Asian mainland is on the horizon toward the northeast."
October 2012 was the 332nd month in a row with a global average temperature that is higher than the 20th-century average. Put it another way: If you are younger than 28, then you have never experienced a colder-than-average month. In your entire life. (Via Chris Tackett) Read the rest
John Streeter, who is a television producer with NASA at Johnson Space Center in Houston, sends this cool video and tells Boing Boing:
It is all real, all shot from the International Space Station and all beautiful. It is time-lapse photography that showcases stars, cities at night, lightning storms and the aurora all from the vantage point of the space station. Also, there is a link at the end where you can visit, download and create your own videos if you wish.
The station is a remarkable engineering achievement and this is just a small side benefit of being in orbit. I hope you enjoy.
NASA.gov link, and here's the video on YouTube.
Time-lapse video from ISS
NASA ISS time lapse compilation
Time-lapse video taken from International Space Station orbiting ...
Space Station time-lapse video with Imaginary Foundation ...
TIME LAPSE of the Northern Lights from Space Read the rest