Category Archives: Science

Tuesday’s Solar Eclipse

Partial solar eclipses on the sidewalk
Partial solar eclipses of the sun

Her: “Will it be possible to get pictures with a smart phone?” Him: “I don’t see that happening.” That was part of a conversation I watched on TV a day or two before Tuesday’s eclipse. The picture above is from my iPhone.

I’m an old man in a nursing home, but that’s no excuse. I failed to prepare, and I wasn’t ready for this eclipse. I had no glasses and no appropriate photographic equipment.

A total solar eclipse is seen on Monday, August 21, 2017 above Madras, Oregon. A total solar eclipse swept across a narrow portion of the contiguous United States from Lincoln Beach, Oregon to Charleston, South Carolina. A partial solar eclipse was visible across the entire North American continent along with parts of South America, Africa, and Europe. Photo Credit: (NASA/Aubrey Gemignani)
A total solar eclipse is seen on Monday, August 21, 2017 above Madras, Oregon. A total solar eclipse swept across a narrow portion of the contiguous United States from Lincoln Beach, Oregon to Charleston, South Carolina. A partial solar eclipse was visible across the entire North American continent along with parts of South America, Africa, and Europe. Photo Credit: (NASA/Aubrey Gemignani)

But I knew that even if you can’t look at the sun, you can still look at the ground and see thousands of little pictures of the sun with a bite taken out of each one where the light shines between the leaves of the trees.

They never look focused very well, because the holes between the leaves are all different shapes instead of real pin-holes (as they should be to project sharp pictures). Besides that, I think I was holding the camera too high, which made it even worse.

We weren’t going to see the total eclipse here in North Texas, anyway; but even a partial solar eclipse is worth preparing for; and I hadn’t even bought eclipse glasses! Nevertheless, I knew I could get pictures. And here are a couple of them. One at the top and one at the bottom of this page.

You’ll notice in the right-hand edge of the picture above, I got a little bit of my power chair in  the frame. The pictures were made on the sidewalk just outside my room at the nursing home. That’s about as far as it’s practical for me to go by myself.

Now I have a new goal: to live seven more years. I really want to see the total eclipse that’s coming through North Texas on April 8, 2024. And if I survive that long, I definitely plan to be prepared this time.

Above is an example of what I hope to see in 2024. And of course the guy was right, I won’t be able to take a picture of the sun like this with my iPhone. If I even tried, I’d probably burn out the camera. But, better than that, I should be able to see it with my own eyes.

April 08, 2024 solar eclipse path
April 08, 2024 solar eclipse path

This is totality! It’s the scene described by science journalist David Barron in the last post: “It was truly a life-changing experience! Just mind bogglingly beautiful and awe inspiring!” Well, it’s not exactly the same scene. He was talking about what he saw in 1998, and this is a picture of the 2017 eclipse two days ago, taken by NASA. But you get the picture (so to speak).

Any given point on earth experiences a total solar eclipse about once every 400 years on average, and it only lasts from a few seconds to four or five minutes maximum. But I plan to be here for it, If possible, in 2024. If I make it, I’ll try to get some better pictures.

Stick around with me and let’s be prepared to watch the full total eclipse In the sky, instead of just pictures on the sidewalk like that below. And above.

Partial solar eclipses on the sidewalk
Partial solar eclipses on the sidewalk

The NASA animation shows the path of the 2024 eclipse. The large shadow is the partial eclipse area, like the one we had here Tuesday. But notice the tiny dot In the center of it? That’s totality! The total solar eclipse area, just 70 miles wide, racing through Texas and several other states at probably around 600 mph or so. That’s where I intend to be in 2024, stalking the eclipse somewhere as near the center of its path as practical, for just a couple of glorious minutes of totality.

Onward to 2024!

Tomorow’s solar eclipse

“It was truly a life-changing experience! Just mind bogglingly beautiful and awe inspiring!”

That’s how science journalist David Barron describes it. He’s talking, of course, about the solar eclipse he watched in Aruba in 1998.

The last total solar eclipse seen in the contiguous United States was on February 26, 1979; but it was visible only across the northwestern states of Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, and North Dakota. The one coming up tomorrow will angle across the whole country from northwest to southeast and coast to coast.

If you’re lucky enough to be in its path, it’ll reach totality between 10:30 am and 3:30 pm, depending on your location. Use this Solar Eclipse Map to see exactly when to expect it.

Total solar eclipses occur roughly once or twice a year somewhere on Earth, always at the time of a new moon. But it’s a big planet, and 70% of it is covered by water. The Arctic and Antarctic take up a lot ofthe rest of it. So  getting a total solar eclipse visible over a large populated area is less common, and one specifically over the United States is actually fairly rare.

Total solar eclipses are said to be one of the most magnficent sights in all of nature. The moon overtakes and slowly covers the Sun, taking nearly 90 minutes to do so. In the last seconds before the Sun is totally covered, the sky grows dark, the air cools, and birds stop singing. Then totality lasts just a few seconds or minutes. But everybody who sees one agrees it was worth the wait.

State capitals in the path of the total solar eclipse: Salem, OR; Lincoln, NE; Jefferson City, MO; Nashville, TN; and Columbia, SC. The optimal local viewing time is given for each. The rust-colored path marks the area where a total eclipse will appear, also called the path of totality. Map developed by CICS-NC in cooperation with NOAA NCEI, Deborah Riddle
State capitals in the path of the total solar eclipse: Salem, OR; Lincoln, NE; Jefferson City, MO; Nashville, TN; and Columbia, SC. The optimal local viewing time is given for each. The rust-colored path marks the area where a total eclipse will appear, also called the path of totality. Map developed by CICS-NC in cooperation with NOAA NCEI, Deborah Riddle

While the strip of totality is only about 70 miles wide and each location will see it for just a few seconds or a couple of minutes, the partial eclipse—when the moon covers just part of the sun—will be visible all over North and Central America plus the northern half of South America. It’ll cover a lot of ocean, and you’ll even be able to see it from Hawaii, if you happen to be there. Unfortunately for the rest of you, this is primarily an American eclipse!

Moments before totality in the 2012 Australian eclipse, just a small part of the Sun is still visible, creating a “diamond ring” effect
Moments before totality in the 2012 Australian eclipse, just a small part of the Sun is still visible, creating a “diamond ring” effect.

The moon’s shadow will race eastward across the nation at the speed of the moon’s orbit around the planet minus earth’s speed of rotation. Roughly 600 mph (combined). This particular eclipse starts in the morning on the west coast, and ends in the afternoon on the east coast. Those lucky enough to actually find themselves in the narrow path of totality–or who have made preparations in advance to be there–will see something similar to the picture above, plus or minus the clouds. It’ll be visible for just a very short time in each location.

And notice, this is a color picture; in the middle of the day, even though it looks like midnight. What you’ll actually see will vary depending on weather conditions, both here and on the sun! If you really fortunate, you may see the sun’s corona writhing for several sun diameters out around the sun itself. And all in glorious color, as you’ll see in some of the videos!

On the center line of totality, you’ll get two or three minutes of it; but along the edge, just 35 miles on either side of the middle line, you’ll only see a few seconds of totality. Outside of the narrow strip, you’ll see just a partial eclipse. No totality. But “just a partial eclipse” is still a thing of wonder!

From North Texas we’ll watch the moon crawl across the top of the sun, covering most of it eventually, and then passing on across. It’ll start at 10:02 am and end at 4:14 pm CDT, with peak at 1:07 pm CDT. I’ll be out there, rolling around in my power chair, enjoying it all.

Use eclipse glasses–available everywhere, cheap, If you’re not too late–or a pinhole camera to see the “bite” out of the sun, and watch how it changes over time. Or stand under a tree and watch the pinholes of light filtering through the leaves, each one showing a picture of the sun with a chunk cut out of it. It’s awesome!

NEVER look directly at the unshielded sun, even during partial eclipse, without proper eye protection! Doing so can easily cause permanent damage to your eyes, up to and including blindness. Sunglasses aren’t enough. Only when you are in the path of totality, and during totality, when the sun’s disk is completely covered right after the Diamond Ring fades, can you safely take off eye protection and look directly at the corona, Baily’s Beads, and other phenomena during the eclipse.

As magnificent as a solar eclipse is, it is purely a natural phenomenon that occurs at predictable times and places dictated by the orbits of the moon around the earth and the earth around the sun. It is not a “magnificent harold of end time events,” as one wannabe prophet proclaims, “Signs in the sky” of the end times, as a few Christians think, or even a “time of darkness and evil,” as some Muslims say.

It is indeed a glorious wonder in the sky, but it is not a sign of evil or things to come. A solar eclipse is just something that happens when the earth, the moon, and the sun all come into their proper positions with respect to each other. It’s something to enjoy, if you’re lucky enough to be in the right place. There is absolutely nothing about it to fear. And that’s the truth.

Watch the videos to learn more. They’re fantastic! And check out NASA’s National and State Maps to learn what you can see from your location and when you can see it.

Or watch it live here on NASA TV (Below), between 11:00 am and 3:00 pm CST, if the channel works. (But it appears to be overloaded already by 9:35 am CST Monday morning. Bill)

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A love of drumming

I love nature, and I love animals that appear to be having fun. I understand it’s difficult to know what’s in the mind of an animal. We can barely communicate with each other. But this little bird seems to be having lots of fun. See how he looks up at his owner in anticipation two or three times? I’m convinced. And that’s the truth.

Rick Perry and Al Franken on Cimate Change


I think this short video demonstrates the current situation in climate science better than anything else I’ve seen: “Get the politicians out of the room and let the scientists (do their jobs).” At least, I think that’s what Rick Perry was trying to say.  Good idea, Rick.  But it’s already been done. As Al Franken says, “That’s what scientists do all the time.”

Anthropocentric climate change is real. Climate scientists agree on it almost hundred percent. The only question now is, what are we going to do about it? And that’s the truth.

No Ordinary Octopus

This extraordinary creature is one of the few octopuses adapted to move about on land. The clip does not identify the species, but it is probably Abdopus aculeatus.

According to Wikipedia, A. aculeatus is about the size of a small orange and is referred to  as “algae octopus,” due to its typical resting camouflage, which looks as if it is overgrown with algae.  It is also adept at mimicking its surroundings.

(This octopus) is found throughout intertidal zones along the Indonesian, Philippine, and Northern Australian coastlines. They primarily live in areas with abundant sea grass coverage and occupy dens built into the sandy seafloor, which they line with small pebbles. In its resting camouflage, A. aculeatus displays mottled ochre, gray, and brown colors that resemble a shell overgrown with algae, and dark arm bars reminiscent of hermit crab legs.

Wikipedia

Mating Octopuses (Abdopus-aculeatus)
Mating Octopuses (Abdopus-aculeatus)

They forage during the day, feeding mostly on small crustaceans, and return to their dens at night. They chase their prey by jetting to propel their body forward, head first. When they catch their prey they use their sharp beak to “drill” into its exoskeleton and reach the muscle within, most often eating their prey on site.

To the right are a pair of them mating, from The Octopus News Magazine Online.

Nature is often extraordinary, and that’s the truth.

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In America, We Worship . . .

Pres. Donald Trump will undoubtedly go down in history as The Tweeting President. His tweets are by far the best indicator of what’s on his tiny mind at any one particular time.

A few days ago he tweeted that, “In America we don’t worship government. We worship God.” He got it half right.

The truth is that in America, we worship any god we please — or no god at all — and our President doesn’t make the decision for us. The Constitution of the United States guarantees us freedom of and from religion.

And that’s the truth.

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Truth about everything of importance

truthAs of today, July 30, 2017, this blog has a renewed focus to searching for and telling truth about everything of importance. Truth about ‘science stuff’ (a term I use to include science, the stuff it studies [nature], and the stuff it produces [technology]), which I love, but also truth about politics (which I often abhor), about everyday life, and (as just mentioned) about everything of importance. And never any intentional untruth about anything, of course, regardless of importance or unimportance. I’ll often, conclude a post with the statement, “This is the truth about …”, or something very similar.

Actually, you’ll notice little difference, because I always try to say the truth anyway.

An important thing for us to remember as we search for important truths will be that It is very difficult to determine that any truth is unimportant, and a truth that seems unimportant today may be important tomorrow.

While I’ll continue to post mostly about science stuff, I also want to post the truth as I see it about many things that seem important, including current national and world events, politics, and anything else I consider important. Whenever possible, I’ll include quotes, graphics, or videos from other sources to illustrate my point. Sometimes, in fact, the quoted material may be the whole post.

Tell the Truth

In some cases, we may disagree about what the truth is. I have seldom hesitated to express my opinions about controversial subjects, assuming I have what I consider an informed or educated opinion. I don’t always, of course. I have never pretended to know everything.

Whether you agree or disagree with me, be sure to leave your comments below each post. I expect to make so many controversial statements that I’ll probably provoke quite a bit of disagreement. That’s OK. Just be honest, brief, and courteous, and I’ll publish your comments. No foul language, please. Abusive comments may or may not be published, solely at my discretion.

While I expect to provoke disagreement, this is not my purpose. Stating truth as I see it is. Truth about virtually anything and everything. I have very strong opinions about many things, and I expect to write about many of them.

This refocusing of the search for truth on this blog is a result of major changes in my life. I have very recently become further disabled and have entered a nursing home, where I’ll probably spend the rest of my life. While it’s not like being at home, there are actually certain advantages.

Truth Is TruthFor one, I get to sit here in bed all day with my notebook computer in my lap, searching the Internet for information, reading some great blogs, writing an ebook or two, and occasionally making a post on my own blog. (And struggling with bedsores on my bottom, of course. But that’s another subject.)

As long as I am able, I intend to make good use of what time I have left, learning and telling truth as best I can determine it.

While I’ll continue to post mostly about science stuff, I also want to post the truth as I see it about many thing that seem important, including current national and world events, politics, and anything else I consider important. Whenever possible, I’ll include quotes, graphics, or videos from other sources to illustrate my point. Sometimes, in fact, the quoted material may be the whole post.

In some cases, we may disagree about what the truth is. I have seldom hesitated to express my opinions about controversial subjects, assuming I have what I consider an informed or educated opinion. I don’t always, of course. I have never pretended to know everything.

Wrong for 5,500 years? And wrong about that!

Anthony Scaramucci - Trump’s New Communications Chief Anti-Science Climate Change Denier
Anthony Scaramucci – Trump’s New Communications Chief Anti-Science Climate Change Denier

Anthony Scaramucci, Pres. Trump’s new appointee for White House communications director, is the very epitome of ignorance. He claims civilization on earth is only 5500 years old. It is far older. I don’t know for sure where this number came from, but I assume it came from the approximate 6000 year figure calculated by students of the Bible, based on adding up all the “begats” in the Old Testament. This implies a religious reason for his willful ignorance.

He thinks science cannot be trusted because, “People have gotten things wrong throughout the 5500 year history of our planet.” And because of “overwhelming scientific consensus that the earth was flat and that we were at the center of the world.” Even assuming he meant to say universe, instead of world, this is still amazing Ignorance. It was never scientists who claimed the earth was flat and that it was the center of the universe. It was religion. It was the Church. More specifically, it was the Papacy. Remember Galileo?

Scaramucci repeatedly questioned anthropogenic — man made — climate change with the excuse, “I honestly don’t know. I’m not a scientist.” He claims to have no idea whether or not climate change Is real. This is possibly the most important question we face about the long-term future of our planet. (Assuming we don’t blow ourselves up or succumb to chemicals or biological weapons.) For the President’s spokesman not to have  even an opinion — much less genuine knowledge of the truth — about climate change is inexcusable!

More than 97% of scientists polled recently said anthropogenic climate change is real. If we limit our poll to scientists actually involved in studying climate, the number climbs to way over 99%. There is no longer any serious question among scientists that anthropogenic climate change is both real and deadly serious. The argument is among laymen who do not understand the science. For the President spokesman to say, “I don’t know. I’m not a scientist,” is embarrassing. Scientists are still studying the details, but they agree that climate change is real. Everybody on earth should know that.

Pres. Trump recently named Scaramucci to be the White House communications director. It is obsurd that the greatest country in the world — the most powerful scientific force on earth — should have such an ignorant man In such a high office for communication. From this position, he’ll undoubtedly spread his ignorance to the world.

In the short video below alone, he makes several incorrect statements and Indicates his disdain for science.

There were several other mistakes In the video. For example, interviewer Chris Cuomo said “science” one time when he evidently meant to say “climate.” Scaramucci referred to somebody — presumably Pres. Trump — as the President-elect. These were obviously slips of the tongue, not indications of ignorance. But when did we start governing our country from from the Trump Tower?

This grossly ignorant man wants the names of those who worked on global warming at the Department of Energy, and refuses to say why, claiming “it’s about intellectual curiosity.” Well, I agree he seems pretty curious, But I wouldn’t want him knowing anything about me. I wouldn’t feel safe.

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