Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Wonderful Weirdness

The paddle is around 30 micrometres long. O'Connell, A. D. et al.

A team of scientists has succeeded in putting an object large enough to be visible to the naked eye into a mixed quantum state of moving and not moving.

Cleland and his team ... began with a a tiny mechanical paddle, or 'quantum drum', around 30 micrometres long that vibrates when set in motion at a particular range of frequencies. Next they connected the paddle to a superconducting electrical circuit that obeyed the laws of quantum mechanics. They then cooled the system down to temperatures below one-tenth of a kelvin.

At this temperature, the paddle slipped into its quantum mechanical ground state. Using the quantum circuit, Cleland and his team verified that the paddle had no vibrational energy whatsoever. They then used the circuit to give the paddle a push and saw it wiggle at a very specific energy.

Next, the researchers put the quantum circuit into a superposition of 'push' and 'don't push', and connected it to the paddle. Through a series of careful measurements, they were able to show that the paddle was both vibrating and not vibrating simultaneously.

"It's wonderful," says Hailin Wang, a physicist at the University of Oregon in Eugene who has been working on a rival technique for putting an oscillator into the ground state. The work shows that the laws of quantum mechanics hold up as expected on a large scale. "It's good for physics for sure," Wang says.

Read more from Nature

h/t: Urban Survival

Monday, March 29, 2010

Business Booms & Busts, 1775 - 1944

Business Booms and Depressions Since 1775: An Accurate Charting of the Past and Present Trend of Price Inflation, Federal Debt, Business, National Income, Stocks and Bond Yields - [PDF - graph]

h/t: essays & effluvia

There goes "sitting on a beach earning 20%"

Click photo to enlarge to 2816 x 2112

"When they touch down, we'll blow the roof, they'll spend a month sifting through rubble, and by the time they figure out what went wrong, we'll be sitting on a beach, earning twenty percent." -- Hans Gruber, Die Hard (1988)

It's been 22 years since that memorable movie quote and the successful Hans Grubers of the world have been living the dream -- hiding all that dough in offshore accounts -- until now.

Tucked away on p.27 of the $17.5 billion Hiring Incentives to Restore Employment Act (H.R. 2487) that was signed into law on March 18, is the provision entitled Offset Provisions - Subtitle A—Foreign Account Tax Compliance, which requires foreign banks to:

  • withhold 30% of all withdrawals (likely remitting the collection promptly back to the US Treasury),
  • disclose the full details of non-exempt account-holders to the US and the IRS,
  • and should this provision be deemed illegal by a given foreign nation's domestic laws (think Switzerland), well the foreign financial institution is required to close the account.

So, perhaps a more timely movie quote is in order, since this law effectively puts the offshore banking story to bed:

"Happy endings are just stories that haven't finished yet." -- Jane Smith, Mr. & Mrs. Smith (2005)

Read the details at Zero Hedge

Saturday, March 27, 2010


enlarge image

CrossFit Worldwide Handstands Poster

"If it came in a bottle, everybody would have a great body." -- Cher

What are you waiting for? Move it.

Then read "Strong Circulation" by Geoffrey Norman, The Wall Street Journal.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Bubble Chamber

The picture shows the interactions in a particle stream in a bubble chamber filled with liquid hydrogen. Bubble chambers help to detect weakly ionised particles. // © CERN

Bubble chamber photographs provide an insightful introduction to the exotic short-lived particles that emerge from all high energy accelerator experiments.

Since they show actual trails of bubbles that are formed as charged particles force their way through an unstable liquid, bubble chamber pictures are perceived by non-particle physicists as real, and therefore a good way to introduce particle physics. The pictures themselves are quite often easy to understand in an intuitive, qualitative way.

The pictures, moreover, possess a mysterious, cosmic beauty that is particularly appealing to the non-scientist. -- Teacher's Web, CERN

Related: CERN sets [30-Mar-2010] date for first attempt at 7 TeV collisions in the LHC

Quantum Wierdness: Skhizein, TimeCreep & Hot Tub Time Machine


Having been struck by a 150-ton meteorite, Henry has to adapt to living precisely ninety-one centimeters from himself.

Winner of the Audience Award at the 2008 Annecy Film Festival.

~ ~ ~


The existence of the hyper chronism experience that humans are reporting across the planet.

~ ~ ~

Hot Tub Time Machine

Four guy friends, all of them bored with their adult lives, travel back to their respective 80s heydays thanks to a time-bending hot tub.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

What happens if the Iceland volcano blows?

Lava spews out of the Eyjafjallajokull volcano in Iceland on March 21. The small volcano eruption that forced more than 600 people to flee their homes in Iceland over the weekend could set off a larger volcano.

The potential eruption of Iceland's volcano Katla would likely send the world, including the USA, into an extended deep freeze.

"When Katla went off in the 1700s, the USA suffered a very cold winter," says Gary Hufford, a scientist with the Alaska Region of the National Weather Service. "To the point, the Mississippi River froze just north of New Orleans and the East Coast, especially New England, had an extremely cold winter.

"Depending on a new eruption, Katla could cause some serious weather changes."

"When volcanic ash reaches the stratosphere, it remains for a long time," reports Hufford. "The ash becomes a very effective block of the incoming solar radiation, thus cooling the atmosphere's temperatures." -- Read more at USA Today

Related: Iceland prepares for second, more devastating volcanic eruption

Desirable Attributes of a Blue-Water Cruising Sailboat

s/v Callipygia, Tayana 37' Cutter

Desirable Attributes of a Blue-Water Cruising Sailboat

#1. Affordable.

~ ~ ~

"The alurements of disipation are more than equal to anything that can be conceived." -- Captain William Bligh, writing about Tahiti after the mutiny on the Bounty

~ ~ ~

#2. Pleasing to the eye.

~ ~ ~

"Such resks as thise are the unavoidable Companions of the Man who goes on Discoveries." -- Captain Cook, after nearly running aground off Tonga

~ ~ ~

#3. 35' - 40' on deck.

North Atlantic Sunset Sail

What it's like to sit on the bow of a 40 ft. sailboat in the North Atlantic at sunset.

#4. - #49.

~ ~ ~

Come, my friends,

'Tis not too late to seek a newer world.

Push off, and sitting well in order smite

The sounding furrows; for my purpose holds

To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths

Of all the western stars, until I die.” -- Alfred, Lord Tennyson

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Robert Plant - Like I've Never Been Gone

Robert Plant - Like I've Never Been Gone [removed from YouTube]

I'll see you baby, when the ice has broken
When the rain stops falling down
I'll be waiting for you, baby when your time has come
And your face no longer frowns
I caught a taste of springtime on your lips
I saw the sunlight in your eyes

I wake to find you smiling with the dawn
Just reminders of the time
I feel your breath, I look around but you're gone
I see the place where you were lying
I caught a taste of springtime on your lips
I see the sunlight in your eyes

It's been so long, it's been so long, so long, since you've been gone
I look away, I can see that you're gone
I guess I'm standing here alone

Across the sea, I see bluebirds on high
In the wildest places too
Above the ground the wind is calling out to me
Oh, lead me back to you
I caught a taste of springtime on your lips
I can still see the sunlight in your eyes, in your eyes

It's been so long, it's been so long, so long, since you've been gone
I look away, I can see that you're gone
I guess I'm standing here alone

Well I'll see you baby, when the ice has broken
When the rain stops falling down
I'll be waiting for you, baby when your time has come
And your face no longer frowns
And I caught a taste of springtime on your lips
I saw the sunlight in your eyes

I can see, I can see, I can see that it's true
Just like, just like I've never been gone _

dedicated to artist unknown

Plant-Bonham - Rare Interview - 1970

Bonds: No Market for Old Men

No Country for Old Men - in 5 seconds

~ ~ ~

Investors In Yesterday's 2 Year Bond Auction Get Piledriven -- Zero Hedge

[the reader's comments are not to be missed]

As The Fed Runs Out Of Low-Rate Options, The UST Is Likely Considering An Orchestrated Move Of Risky Asset Into Bills

"...what creates a scramble for Bills better than anything?

Why a massive market crash of course...

What we can predict with certainty, is that the Treasury is on an inevitable collision course with insolvency, courtesy of a government run amok. And absent a major shift in capital out of risky assets into risk-free equivalents, it is going to get increasingly more difficult to control the runaway beast of rabid and uncontrollable deficit spending." -- Tyler Durden, Zero Hedge

~ ~ ~

Yesterday I made a personal wager that the DOW will retest 6,440 before 2010 ends. - c

Trading Places - Final Scene - [NSFW Language]

"You and your Nobel Prize! You idiot!" -- Mortimer Duke

Holes In Heaven: H.A.A.R.P. and Advances in Telsa Technology

Holes In Heaven: H.A.A.R.P. and Advances in Telsa Technology

Examines the controversial military program based on Tesla technology, its possible effects on weather and use in mind control.


Are we making Holes in Heaven? HAARP (High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program) is a controversial high frequency radio transmitter, or "ioniospheric heater," which is believed to be descended from the works of Nikola Tesla and is operated by the U.S. Navy/Air Force and Phillip Laboratories in remote Gakona, Alaska.

Using HAARP, the military can focus a billion-watt pulsed radio beam into our upper atmosphere, ostensibly for ionospheric research. This procedure will form extremely low frequency waves and send them back to the Earth, enhancing communications with submarines and allowing us to "see" into the Earth, detecting anything from oil reserves to underground missile silos.

However, several researchers claim HAARP poses many dangers, including blowing thirty-mile holes in the Earth's upper atmosphere. They also warn of possible disruption of the subtle magnetic energies of our Earth and ourselves.

Holes in Heaven? is a prime example of grassroots filmmaking by producer Paula Randol-Smith and Emmy-winning director Wendy Robbins. Narrated by Martin Sheen, the film, investigates HAARP, its history and implications, and examines the dangers and benefits of high and low frequencies and of electromagnetic technology.

Among the many scientists interviewed are Dr. Bernard Eastlund, whose original patents are the reputed blueprints for HAARP, Project Director Dr. John Heckscher, and Dr. Nick Begich and Jeane Manning authors of Angels Don't Play This Haarp.

Holes in Heaven? strives to give a fair and accurate appraisal of HAARP, and brings before the public, vital information about a project which could have a dramatic effect upon our entire world.

~ ~ ~

Low-Intensity Conflict and Modem Technology [PDF] - [HTML]

The High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program - HAARP

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

a gift for storytelling

So You Want to Be a Writer -- The Atlantic

Can writing be taught? Or, is it a gift for storytelling that cannot be learned?

~ ~ ~

Here's a prime example of Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus offered by an English professor from the University of Colorado for a class assignment:

The professor told his class one day: "Today we will experiment with a new form called the tandem story. The process is simple. Each person will pair off with the person sitting to his or her immediate right.

As homework tonight, one of you will write the first paragraph of a short story. You will e-mail your partner that paragraph and send another copy to me. The partner will read the first paragraph and then add another paragraph to the story and send it back, also sending another copy to me. The first person will then add a third paragraph, and so on back-and-forth.

Remember to re-read what has been written each time in order to keep the story coherent. There is to be absolutely NO talking outside of the e-mails, and anything you wish to say must be written in the e-mail. The story is over when both agree a conclusion has been reached."

The following was actually turned in by two of his English students:


(first paragraph by Rebecca)

At first, Laurie couldn't decide which kind of tea she wanted. The chamomile, which used to be her favorite for lazy evenings at home, now reminded her too much of Carl, who once said, in happier times, that he liked chamomile. But she felt she must now, at all costs, keep her mind off Carl. His possessiveness was suffocating, and if she thought about him too much her asthma started acting up again. So chamomile was out of the question.

(second paragraph by Bill)

Meanwhile, Advance Sergeant Carl Harris, leader of the attack squadron now in orbit over Skylon 4, had more important things to think about than the neuroses of an air-headed asthmatic bimbo named Laurie with whom he had spent one sweaty night over a year ago. "A.S. Harris to Geostation 17," he said into his transgalactic communicator. "Polar orbit established. No sign of resistance so far...." But before he could sign off a bluish particle beam flashed out of nowhere and blasted a hole through his ship's cargo bay. The jolt from the direct hit sent him flying out of his seat and across the cockpit.


He bumped his head and died almost immediately, but not before he felt one last pang of regret for psychically brutalizing the one woman who had ever had feelings for him. Soon afterwards, Earth stopped its pointless hostilities towards the peaceful farmers of Skylon 4. "Congress Passes Law Permanently Abolishing War and Space Travel," Laurie read in her newspaper one morning. The news simultaneously excited her and bored her. She stared out the window, dreaming of her youth, when the days had passed unhurriedly and carefree, with no newspaper to read, no television to distract her from her sense of innocent wonder at all the beautiful things around her. "Why must one lose one's innocence to become a woman?" she pondered wistfully.

(Bill )

Little did she know, but she had less than 10 seconds to live. Thousands of miles above the city, the Anu'udrian mothership launched the first of its lithium fusion missiles. The dimwitted wimpy peaceniks who pushed the Unilateral Aerospace disarmament Treaty through the congress had left Earth a defenseless target for the hostile alien empires who were determined to destroy the human race. Within two hours after the passage of the treaty the Anu'udrian ships were on course for Earth, carrying enough firepower to pulverize the entire planet. With no one to stop them, they swiftly initiated their diabolical plan. The lithium fusion missile entered the atmosphere unimpeded. The President, in his top-secret mobile submarine headquarters on the ocean floor off the coast of Guam, felt the inconceivably massive explosion, which vaporized poor, stupid Laurie.


This is absurd. I refuse to continue this mockery of literature. My writing partner is a violent, chauvinistic semi-literate adolescent.


Yeah? Well, my writing partner is a self-centered tedious neurotic whose attempts at writing are the literary equivalent of Valium. "Oh, shall I have chamomile tea? Or shall I have some other sort of FREAKIN TEA??? Oh no, what am I to do? I'm such an air headed bimbo who reads too many Danielle Steele novels!"








In your dreams. Go drink some tea.


A+ ... I really liked this one.

Silly wet little chicken.

via Indexed

Monday, March 22, 2010

Killer Asteroid

Naked Science: Killer Asteroid

~ ~ ~

We the undersigned participated in the Erice International Seminars on Planetary Emergencies: 17th Workshop: The Collision of an Asteroid or Comet with the Earth, met in Erice, Sicily from 28 April to 4 May, 1993. Following presentations and discussions on the subject of the threat to humanity from Cosmic Impact, the undersigned concur as to the following points:

1) Cosmic Impact is an environmentally significant phenomenon which has played a major role in the evolution of life on Earth.

2) In any given year there is a very low probability that a large Cosmic Impact may occur which would destroy human civilization or even a significant fraction of life on Earth. However, the threat is real and requires further internationally coordinated public educational efforts.

3) A significant near term Cosmic Impact threat identified at the Workshop is a naturally produced atmospheric explosion of a small Near Earth Object being mistaken for a nuclear explosion, at a time and place of international tension. These events have been observed. Such an event could be misinterpreted as a nuclear attack and trigger an unfortunate reaction.

The Collision of an Asteroid or Comet with the Earth: Papers - [PDFs]

~ ~ ~

NEO Earth Close Approaches: NASA

The Knitted Fish Dish Rag

"Give a mom a fish dishrag and she has one fish dishrag. Give her the pattern and make her learn to knit her own and she'll have all the fish dishrags she wants."

"Or something like that." -- Adventures in Self-Reliance

Here's the pattern

h/t: momof3angels

Limp Bizkit - Re-Arranged

Limp Bizkit - Re-Arranged

Lately I've been skeptical
Silent when I would used to speak
Distant from all around me
Who witness me fail and become weak
Life is overwhelming
Heavy is the head that wears the crown
I'd love to be the one to disappoint you when I don't fall down

But you don't understand when I'm attempting to explain
Because you know it all and I guess things will never change
But you might need my hand when falling in your hole
Your disposition I'll remember when I'm letting go of
You and me we're through
And rearranged

It seems that you're not satisfied
There's too much on your mind
So you leave and I can't believe all the bullshit that I find
Life is overwhelming
Heavy is the head that wears the crown
I'd love to be the one to disappoint you when I don't fall down

But you don't understand when I'm attempting to explain
Because you know it all and I guess things will never change
But you might need my hand when falling in your hole
Your disposition I'll remember when I'm letting go of
You and me we're through
And rearranged

You're no good
For me
Thank God its over

You make believe
That nothing is wrong until you're cryin'
You make believe
That life is so long until you're dyin'
You make believe
That nothing is wrong until you're cryin'
Cryin' on me
You make believe
That life is so long until you're dyin'
Dyin' on me!

You think that everybody's the same
I don't think that anybody's like you
(You ruin everything and you kept fuckin' with me until its over and I won't be
the same)
You think that everybody's the same
I don't think that anybody's like you
Be the same

Just think about it
You'll get it

~ ~ ~

dedicated to TPTB

Sunday, March 21, 2010

The Healthcare Apocalypse Has Begun

A slim majority of the congresscritters voted late on a Sunday night to "deem" the ill-conceived socialized healthcare legislation package into law, despite a huge public outcry. (And contravening the long-established rules whereby conference committees must create identical legislation for both the House and Senate.) So they shouldn't be surprised when We The People "deem" them no longer fit to represent us. I anticipate massive non-compliance with the new scheme, and routs of incumbents in the next three elections. There may be some brisk business in tar and feathers on the banks of the Potomac.

Attention Bureaucrats: Go ahead and send me my noncompliance fine bill for $695, because I'm not signing up! --

~ ~ ~

Krauthammer:America will be a different country.

~ ~ ~

Fitting this all happened while I was watching Zombieland!

'Zombieland' Trailer HD

Iceland prepares for second, more devastating volcanic eruption

The danger is that the small volcano is just the beginning and that it will trigger the far more powerful volcano of Katla, which nestles beneath Myrdalsjoekull.

"Eyjafjallajokull has blown three times in the past thousand years," Dr. McGarvie told The Times, "in 920AD, in 1612 and between 1821 and 1823. Each time it set off Katla." The likelihood of Katla blowing could become clear "in a few weeks or a few months", he said. -- Times Online

Volcano erupts aside Icelandic glacier

Related: What happens if the Iceland volcano blows?

The Sun-Earth Connection

Lisbon, Portugal, during the great earthquake of 1 November 1755. This copper engraving, made that year, shows the city in ruins and in flames. Tsunamis rush upon the shore, destroying the wharfs. The engraving is also noteworthy in showing a harbor with highly disturbed water which sank many ships. Passengers in the left foreground show signs of panic. Original in: Museu da Cidade, Lisbon. Reproduced in: O Terramoto de 1755, Testamunhos Britanicos (The Lisbon Earthquake of 1755, British Accounts.) Lisbon: British Historical Society of Portugal, 1990.

Once Upon A Star...

June 15, 763 BC was likely a very nice day in ancient Greece. – The Dark Ages had ended, trade with the Near East, Italy and Egypt was flourishing and Greece’s economic recovery was afoot. – The ease of life’s daily burdens left plenty of time to contemplate the heavens and the newly adopted Phoenician alphabet gave scholars the perfect tool with which to record that day’s solar eclipse.

During this period bloomed an intellectual revolution; classical philosophy, theater and poetry were born. It is also from this time that we retain the first written records of earthquake occurrences, yet for many years, advances in the arts would continue to outpace the physical sciences.

In the centuries that followed, for example, earthquakes were alternately attributed to air (vapors) in the cavities of the Earth, tension between the earth and water, episodes of dryness and wetness and even underground thunderstorms. [1] The shape of the Earth itself was still open to debate until the end of the sixth century B.C. when Pythagoras, for aesthetic reasons, decided that the Earth was neither flat nor cylindrical nor rectangular, but spherical like the Sun and the Moon. [2] Finally, it wasn't until our time, during the latter half of the twentieth century, that researchers would begin to theorize about a possible link between earthquakes and the sun. [3]

What follows is a brief introduction to their latest findings.

Sun-Earth Seismic Connection

A close inspection of sunspot activity records dating back to the seventh century reveals that solar activity follows a predictable 11-year cycle of minima and maxima.

Combining the data of these 11-year solar cycles with earthquake totals recorded during the same time period reveals that seismic activity has closely followed solar activity for centuries.

Not only is there a direct relation, but it was found that more earthquakes occur during the height of sunspot activity.

Number of earthquakes in the Mediterranean area summed over the 11-year solar cycles (solid line) and solar activity in the maxima of the solar cycles (broken line) in the period 296-1000 AD; 3-point running means.

Since the twentieth century, the global number of strong (with magnitude 7 or greater) earthquakes per year was studied to determine if a relation existed with sunspot cycles today.

Average number of earthquakes (solid line, left scale) and solar activity (broken line, right scale) in the 11-year solar cycle for the period 1900-1999.

Not only did this research reaffirm the earthquake-solar activity connection, it revealed that the significantly greater probability of earthquake occurrence was due to the arrival of high speed solar streams at the Earth.

The working theory as to why these streams cause earthquakes is a somewhat complicated process to explain and is best done scientifically by Gousheva et al [4]:

The possible mechanism includes deposition of solar wind energy into the polar ionosphere where it drives ionospheric convection and auroral electrojets, generating in turn atmospheric gravity waves that interact with neutral winds and deposit their momentum in the neutral atmosphere, increasing the transfer of air masses and disturbing the pressure balance on tectonic plates.

Interestingly, no clear relation was found between solar activity and earthquake size, confirming the assertion that all earthquakes start in a similar fashion, but some grow bigger than others.

It was also determined that both the day of arrival of high speed solar wind and the day following right after it are “special” concerning earthquake appearance.

The origin of these high-speed solar winds will be examined after a brief detour to determine if a connection exists between solar activity and volcanic eruptions.

Sun-Earth Volcanic Connection

It stands to reason that if the Sun is geoeffective with regard to earthquakes that it might also have an effect on volcanic activity.

The short answer is: it does.

Specifically, there is a high correlation of duration of eruptive days and dates of short-moving sunspots.

Changing of the duration of volcanically eruptive days with the excluded linear trend (solid line) and dates of short-living sunspots (dashed line) in accordance with the data of A.Stoyko’s works (1969).

But not all volcanoes are alike. They are generally divided into two types: mud volcanoes and magmatic volcanoes.

All mud (M-type) volcanoes of the world are located in the zones of subduction and collision and, consequently, reflect the activity of compression processes of the Earth.

Location scheme of mud (M-type) volcanoes and subduction zones of the world.

Data from more than 300 mud volcano eruptions around the world were used to determine that mud volcano activity (that typically occurs in a 9-12 year cycle) corresponds with the 11-year cycles in solar activity.

Comparison of solar and mud (M-type) volcano activities diagrams.

Magmatic volcanoes are further divided into geodynamical types. Each type of volcano reflects the activity of various processes:

• C-type volcanoes characterize the compression processes of Earth (due to subduction.)

• R-type volcanoes characterize the tension processes of Earth (due to spreading.)

C-type magmatic volcanoes were found to occur in 6, 10 and 22-year cycles of hyperactivity.

Comparison of C-type magmatic volcanoes activity diagrams and solar activity.

As follows the graph above, the periods of C-type volcanoes hyperactivity coincide with the 11-year cycles in solar hyperactivity.

Comparison of R-type magmatic volcanoes activity diagrams and solar activity.

R-type magmatic volcanoes were found to occur in 15-year and 22-year activation cycles.

As suspected, the comparison of R-type volcano activity diagrams with the solar activity diagram caused contrary conclusions. With the increase of solar activity there decreases R-type volcanic activity.

The theory by which solar activity affects volcanoes is explained by Khain and Khalilov [5]:

When solar activity increases, the corpuscular emission and solar magnetic field strength increase rapidly as well, inducing ring currents in various layers of Earth, particularly, in lithosphere and asthenosphere. Currents in asthenosphere appeared as a result of solar activity increase cause mantle heating, its plasticity growth and as a result convection currents acceleration. Convection currents acceleration leads to spreading acceleration, and increase of mantle temperature – to its heat expansion while Earth extension is taken place due to spreading. In the periods of solar activity decrease the ring currents magnitude inducing in the mantle, decreases as well and as a result there decreases temperature and Earth compression, accompanying by the process of subduction.

The study concluded that in periods of solar activity increase, there increases the activity of volcanoes in the Earth's compression zones, while in periods of solar activity decrease there increases the activity of tension zone volcanoes that should cause periodical change of the Earth’s radius.

Evidently, 22-year cycles became apparent in all geodynamic types of volcanoes and it seems that they are genetically coherent by the influence of a single factor – the 22-year cycle of solar activity consisting of two 11-year cycles.

We can conclude that 11-year and 22-year cycles, the most typical for solar activity, have a direct influence upon the Earth’s processes, including volcanism and seismicity.

Now, let’s return to an examination of their main influence, the source of high-speed solar winds: solar coronal holes and coronal mass ejections (CMEs).

Two Threats (CMEs and Coronal Holes)

Both CMEs and solar coronal holes are regions of open magnetic flux and sources of high speed solar wind.

Solar streams are more prevalent during two discernable times: (1) during the maximum of the 11-year sunspot cycle and (2) during the descending phase of the sunspot cycle when coronal holes are present.

Yearly average values of the sunspot number, R, and the geomagnetic index, aa.

The greatest Earth effects occur when coronal holes face the Earth and when CMEs are traveling at speed.

Solar winds are considered high speed when their velocities are no less than 500 kilometers per second.

To illustrate the effects solar weather can have on the Earth, let’s take a look at two major events in recent history.

Carrington Event of 1859

At 11:18 AM on the cloudless morning of Thursday, September 1, 1859, 33-year-old Richard Carrington—widely acknowledged to be one of England's foremost solar astronomers—was in his well-appointed private observatory. Just as usual on every sunny day, his telescope was projecting an 11-inch-wide image of the sun on a screen, and Carrington skillfully drew the sunspots he saw.

Sunspots of September 1, 1859 as sketched by Richard Carrington.

On that morning, he was capturing the likeness of an enormous group of sunspots. Suddenly, before his eyes, two brilliant beads of blinding white light appeared over the sunspots, intensified rapidly, and became kidney-shaped. Realizing that he was witnessing something unprecedented and "being somewhat flurried by the surprise," Carrington later wrote, "I hastily ran to call someone to witness the exhibition with me. On returning within 60 seconds, I was mortified to find that it was already much changed and enfeebled." He and his witness watched the white spots contract to mere pinpoints and disappear.

It was 11:23 AM. Only five minutes had passed.

Just before dawn the next day, skies all over planet Earth erupted in red, green, and purple auroras so brilliant that newspapers could be read as easily as in daylight. Indeed, stunning auroras pulsated even at near tropical latitudes over Cuba, the Bahamas, Jamaica, El Salvador, and Hawaii.

Even more disconcerting, telegraph systems worldwide went haywire. Spark discharges shocked telegraph operators and set the telegraph paper on fire. Even when telegraphers disconnected the batteries powering the lines, aurora-induced electric currents in the wires still allowed messages to be transmitted.

"What Carrington saw was a white-light solar flare—a magnetic explosion on the sun," explains David Hathaway, solar physics team lead at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama.

Now we know that solar flares happen frequently, especially during solar sunspot maximum. Most betray their existence by releasing X-rays (recorded by X-ray telescopes in space) and radio noise (recorded by radio telescopes in space and on Earth). In Carrington's day, however, there were no X-ray satellites or radio telescopes. No one knew flares existed until that September morning when one super-flare produced enough light to rival the brightness of the sun itself.

"It's rare that one can actually see the brightening of the solar surface," says Hathaway. "It takes a lot of energy to heat up the surface of the sun!"

The explosion produced not only a surge of visible light but also a mammoth cloud of charged particles and detached magnetic loops—a "CME"—and hurled that cloud directly toward Earth. The next morning when the CME arrived, it crashed into Earth's magnetic field, causing the global bubble of magnetism that surrounds our planet to shake and quiver. Researchers call this a "geomagnetic storm." Rapidly moving fields induced enormous electric currents that surged through telegraph lines and disrupted communications. [6]

Halloween Storms of 2003

As researched by Gopalswamy et al [7], the violent solar eruptions of October-November 2003 (see figure below,) are one of the best observed outbreaks of intense solar activity to date. These events, referred to as the Halloween Storms, are extreme in both their solar properties and terrestrial consequences.

Two of the eruptions recorded at this time arrived at Earth in less than a day. Historically, only 13 such “fast transit” events, including the Carrington event described above, have been observed. Remarkably, the two fast transit events in October 2003 occurred on consecutive days.

An overview plot showing (from top to bottom) the GOES X-ray flares, CME height-time plots, the SEP flux (>10 MeV protons), the 1 AU solar wind speed from ACE, and the Dst index. The nominal quiet condition is marked by the horizonal dashed lines. The solid lines in the CME height-time plots represent halo CMEs.

Several aspects of the Halloween Storms displayed extreme behavior:

• The size of the Sun’s active region

• The potential energy generated

• Flare occurrence rate and peak intensity

• Coronal Mass Ejection (CME) speed and intensity

• Shock occurrence rate

• Solar Energetic Particle (SEP) occurrence rate and peak intensity

• The geomagnetic storm intensity

As expected, this outbreak of strong solar activity resulted in a broad spectrum of space weather impacts. About 59% of the reporting spacecraft and about 18% of the onboard instrument groups were affected by these storms. Most Earth-orbiting spacecraft were put into safe mode to protect them from the particle radiation that was emitted.

Major societal impacts also occurred:

• About 50,000 people in southern Sweden (Malmoe) experienced a blackout when the oil in a transformer heated up by 10 degrees

• Surge currents were observed in Swedish pipelines

• Several occurrences were noted of degradation and outage of GPS systems

• Teams climbing Mount Everest experienced interference on high-frequency radio communication paths

Near-Earth effects were no less extreme:

• The total electron content in the ionosphere over the US mainland increased tenfold during 30-31 October

• The solar energetic particle event on 28 October caused a significant (50-70%) depletion of the ozone layer at the northern polar cap

• Airline passengers flying at a significant latitude and altitude were exposed to an approximate 37% increase in solar radiation dose (with pregnant women being particularly vulnerable)

• Longer airline flights could subject passengers to a significant dose of radiation

Prediction of strong interplanetary coronal mass ejections (ICMEs) is of paramount importance to critical power infrastructures.

Just how important has already been the discussion of various articles grouped under the tag of EMP.

The main reasons why the Halloween Storms were so dangerous are two-fold:

In 2003, the average time-of-arrival errors from space weather forecast centers was 9.26 hours.

Overall, the strongest ICME impact events of 29 and 30 October 2003 were the most poorly predicted.

Halloween Storms LASCO C2 (Oct. 18 - Nov. 7 2003)

Long-Term Forecast

Due to the nature of its potential impact, space weather prediction evokes two schools of thought as to its best delivery.

One’s sugar coated and the other right between the eyes

1- graph of real numbers of earthquakes of compression rims of the Earth with M≥5; 2-circumflexing graph of seismic activity of compression rims of the Earth with M≥5; 3-forecast part of the graph of seismic activity of compression rims of the Earth; 4-lines connecting the minimal indexes of solar and seismic activities and showing the delay of seismic activity against solar; 5-graph of volcanic activity of compression rims of the Earth; 6-forecast part of the graph of volcanic activity of compression rims of the Earth; 7-drawing up of volcanic activity graph for zones of type C; 8-drawing up of seismic activity graph for zones of type C.

X-ray-emitting CMEs, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions are each set to peak in number again in (you guessed it) 2012 through 2015.

Their 2012 totals are expected to exceed those of the Halloween Storms.

Danger Zones

The areas of particular vulnerability on Earth lie in what are called the compression zones, where subduction of the tectonic plates occurs.

The map of geodynamic zones of Earth. 1 – compression zones of Earth – type C; 2 – ocean internal plate zones – type OI. 3 – continental rift zones – type CP; 4 – ocean rift zones – type OR.

The USGS Earthquake Hazards Programs provides detailed maps of worldwide subduction zones at http://earthquake.usgs.gov/research/data/slab/.


There is some good news here. - A useful predictor of harmful CMEs has been found.

Type II solar radio bursts of a long-wavelength (decameter-hectometer) have been associated with CMEs that are much faster and wider than average; the types of CMEs that are potentially more geoeffective.

Sign up to receive NOAA’s free space weather alerts by email or SMS (texted to your cell phone.)

Here are examples of space weather alerts that occurred this week on 18 and 20 March 2010:

Space Weather Message Code: ALTTP2
Serial Number: 694
Issue Time: 2010 Mar 18 2357 UTC

ALERT: Type II Radio Emission
Begin Time: 2010 Mar 18 2311 UTC
Estimated Velocity: 776 km/s


Space Weather Message Code: ALTK04
Serial Number: 1436
Issue Time: 2010 Mar 20 0839 UTC

ALERT: Geomagnetic K-index of 4
Threshold Reached: 2010 Mar 20 0838 UTC
Synoptic Period: 0600-0900 UTC
Station: Boulder
Active Warning: No


Space weather generated by the Sun can cause increased radiation, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions on Earth.

Solar weather for the current sunspot cycle 24 is forecast to set new record totals for these events, each peaking in 2012.

How bad will it get? Could the peak days trigger cataclysmic events on the Earth as depicted in the movie 2012? At this time, we simply don’t know.

If so, to quote another student of the Sun, “That will be a very bad solar hair day.”

Oh, and just in case you were wondering…

That was sugar-coated.

~ ~ ~

'2012' Trailer HD

~ ~ ~

This article drew heavily from the following three research papers, each of which are an excellent source of further study [PDFs]:

[4] On the relation between solar activity and seismicity

[5] About Possible Influence of Solar Activity Upon Seismic and Volcanic Activities: Long-Term Forecast

[7] Introduction to violent Sun-Earth connection events of October-November 2003

Friday, March 19, 2010

The UFO Sighting Credibility Timeline

One day, the little green humanoids with three eyes or the big purple tentacle thingies will come for real. And then, humans and giraffes and orangutans and fish and jam all over the Earth will exclaim: PHOTOSHOP! -- GIZMODO

~ ~ ~

Triangle UFO Discovered Up Close (Extended Version)

Video claim: A possible government aircraft UFO. This is NOT a CGI, CG or made with any type of animation. [Right. /s]

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Flashlight Fire Starter

Flashlight Fire Starter

Dan Rojas from Green Power Science demonstrates how light from a 35 watt high intensity discharge (HID) portable flashlight can be concentrated using a crystal ball, a magnifying glass, and a parabolic mirror to burn stuff and boil a small amount of water.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Surprise Shrimp Under Antarctic Ice

NASA | Surprise Shrimp Under Antarctic Ice

This clip has no sound.

At a depth of 600 feet beneath the West Antarctic ice sheet, a small shrimp-like creature managed to brighten up an otherwise gray polar day in late November 2009. This critter is a three-inch long Lyssianasid amphipod found beneath the Ross Ice Shelf, about 12.5 miles away from open water. NASA scientists were using a borehole camera to look back up towards the ice surface when they spotted this pinkish-orange creature swimming beneath the ice.

Winds Blew in Reverse During Last Ice Age

A sample of ancient wood that Dartmouth researchers used to determine 30,000-year-old wind patterns. (Photo by Joseph Mehling, Dartmouth)

By Andrea Thompson, LiveScience Staff Writer, h/t: Earth Changes and the Pole Shift

In one of the most stark illustrations of how a changing climate can have regional effects, scientists have learned that winds over North America have done a complete 180 since the time of the last Ice Age several thousand years ago.

Winter blizzards and spring thunderstorms today are usually fueled by moisture-laden winds blowing in from the West Coast.

“In this study, we found evidence that during the last glacial period, about 14,000 to 36,000 years ago, the prevailing wind in this zone was easterly, and marine moisture came predominantly from the East Coast,” said lead study author Xiahong Feng of Dartmouth College.

The findings were detailed in the online edition of the journal Geology.

Changing climate

These changes in wind direction were the result of global climate change, which can alter circulation patterns in the atmosphere, Feng explained. Changes in wind patterns can in turn cause changes in temperature and precipitation patterns, which are the measurements typically used to study past climates.

“Climate change involves interactions among temperature, precipitation and wind, but until now, research has rarely been able to observe or confirm prehistoric winds and their continental-scale patterns,” Feng said.

The researchers examined cellulose from ancient wood samples recovered from the mid-latitudes of North America (40-50 degrees N). The changes in the compositions of oxygen and hydrogen isotopes across the continent gave the researchers a picture of the distribution of moisture during the glacial period. While modern samples show high levels of moisture on both coasts, the ancient samples surprisingly showed high levels on the East Coast that steadily decreased to the West Coast.

“We didn’t expect to see a whole different pattern,” co-author Eric Posmentier told LiveScience.

Altered jet stream

Feng hypothesizes that the Laurentide Ice Sheet, which covered a large area of North America during the Ice Age, intensified winds swirling around the North Pole. This intensification caused the jet stream, along which many storms tend to track, to dip further south than does today and the weak polar easterlies above it were pushed down over the mid-latitudes of North America.

Essentially, the wind patterns of today “got squished down toward the equator,” Posmentier said.

These changes in wind direction in turn changed precipitation patterns. For example, the Pacific Northwest was found to be much drier than it is today, which earlier studies of vegetation in that region have also shown.

Feng hopes that the methods her team used in this study can be used to better understand climate interactions and to formulate better models of future climate change. -- ###

Why haven't researchers considered that the Earth may have been rotating in the opposite direction prior to the last pole shift? Pole shift = taboo?

Sunday, March 14, 2010

I'd Rather Be...

Catamaran Luxury

There's no shortage of good reasons to climb aboard a catamaran.

~ ~ ~

In Cabin'd Ships at Sea

By Walt Whitman

In cabin'd ships at sea,
The boundless blue on every side expanding,
With whistling winds and music of the waves, the large imperious waves,
Or some lone bark buoy'd on the dense marine,
Where joyous full of faith, spreading white sails,
She cleaves the ether mid the sparkle and the foam of day, or under many a star at night,
By sailors young and old haply will I, a reminiscence of the land, be read,
In full rapport at last.

Here are our thoughts, voyagers' thoughts,
Here not the land, firm land, alone appears, may then by them be said,
The sky o'erarches here, we feel the undulating deck beneath our feet,
We feel the long pulsation, ebb and flow of endless motion,
The tones of unseen mystery, the vague and vast suggestions of the briny world, the liquid-flowing syllables,
The perfume, the faint creaking of the cordage, the melancholy rhythm,
The boundless vista and the horizon far and dim are all here,
And this is ocean's poem.

Then falter not O book, fulfil your destiny,
You not a reminiscence of the land alone,
You too as a lone bark cleaving the ether, purpos'd I know not
whither, yet ever full of faith,
Consort to every ship that sails, sail you!
Bear forth to them folded my love, (dear mariners, for you I fold it here in every leaf;)
Speed on my book! spread your white sails my little bark athwart the imperious waves,
Chant on, sail on, bear o'er the boundless blue from me to every sea,
This song for mariners and all their ships.

~ ~ ~

listen: there's a hell of a good universe next door; let's go -- E.E. Cummings

Happy Pi Day

Pi, 1988, by Tom Marioni. Woodcut printed in red on silk mounted on rag paper. Via Crown Point Press.

Via SpaceWeather.com

March 14th (3.14) is day and all around the world mathematicians are celebrating this compelling and mysterious constant of Nature. Pi appears in equations describing the orbits of planets, the colors of auroras, the structure of DNA. It's everywhere.

Humans have been struggling to calculate for thousands of years. Divide the circumference of a circle by its diameter; the ratio is . Sounds simple, but the devil is in the digits. While the value of is finite (a smidgen more than 3), the decimal number is infinitely long:


Supercomputers have succeeded in calculating more than 200 billion digits and they're still crunching. The weirdest way to compute : throw needles at a table or frozen hot dogs on the floor. Party time!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Kindred Spirits

Asher B. Durand (American, 1796–1886). Kindred Spirits, 1849. Oil on canvas. Crystal Bridges—Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Arkansas. Via Brooklyn Museum.

Kindred Spirits was commissioned by the merchant-collector Jonathan Sturges as a gift for William Cullen Bryant in gratitude for the nature poet's moving eulogy to Thomas Cole, who had died suddenly in early 1848. Durand marshaled his skills as draftsman, genre painter, portraitist, and landscape painter to create a remarkable image. He memorialized Cole, who had been his own mentor, forever standing in a deep Catskill gorge, sketch portfolio in one hand and his recorder in the other, in company with their mutual friend Bryant.

The botanical precision of the mountain forest and foreground trees marks the new direction toward realism in Durand's work. The gorge and the torrent embody geological process as well as sublime grandeur. The two figures might as easily be discussing their mutual fascination with the science of geology as meditating on the Romantic sonnet by John Keats for which the painting is named.

~ ~ ~


By William Cullen Bryant (1794-1878)

To him who in the love of nature holds
Communion with her visible forms, she speaks
A various language; for his gayer hours
She has a voice of gladness, and a smile
And eloquence of beauty; and she glides
Into his darker musings, with a mild
And healing sympathy that steals away
Their sharpness ere he is aware. When thoughts
Of the last bitter hour come like a blight
Over thy spirit, and sad images
Of the stern agony, and shroud, and pall,
And breathless darkness, and the narrow house,
Make thee to shudder, and grow sick at heart;--
Go forth, under the open sky, and list
To Nature's teachings, while from all around--
Earth and her waters, and the depths of air--
Comes a still voice. Yet a few days, and thee
The all-beholding sun shall see no more
In all his course; nor yet in the cold ground,
Where thy pale form was laid, with many tears,
Nor in the embrace of ocean, shall exist
Thy image. Earth, that nourished thee, shall claim
Thy growth, to be resolved to earth again,
And, lost each human trace, surrendering up
Thine individual being, shalt thou go
To mix forever with the elements,
To be a brother to the insensible rock
And to the sluggish clod, which the rude swain
Turns with his share, and treads upon. The oak
Shall send his roots abroad, and pierce thy mold.

Yet not to thine eternal resting-place
Shalt thou retire alone, nor couldst thou wish
Couch more magnificent. Thou shalt lie down
With patriarchs of the infant world -- with kings,
The powerful of the earth -- the wise, the good,
Fair forms, and hoary seers of ages past,
All in one mighty sepulchre. The hills
Rock-ribbed and ancient as the sun, -- the vales
Stretching in pensive quietness between;
The venerable woods -- rivers that move
In majesty, and the complaining brooks
That make the meadows green; and, poured round all,
Old Ocean's gray and melancholy waste,--
Are but the solemn decorations all
Of the great tomb of man. The golden sun,
The planets, all the infinite host of heaven,
Are shining on the sad abodes of death
Through the still lapse of ages. All that tread
The globe are but a handful to the tribes
That slumber in its bosom. -- Take the wings
Of morning, pierce the Barcan wilderness,
Or lose thyself in the continuous woods
Where rolls the Oregon, and hears no sound,
Save his own dashings -- yet the dead are there:
And millions in those solitudes, since first
The flight of years began, have laid them down
In their last sleep -- the dead reign there alone.

So shalt thou rest -- and what if thou withdraw
In silence from the living, and no friend
Take note of thy departure? All that breathe
Will share thy destiny. The gay will laugh
When thou art gone, the solemn brood of care
Plod on, and each one as before will chase
His favorite phantom; yet all these shall leave
Their mirth and their employments, and shall come
And make their bed with thee. As the long train
Of ages glides away, the sons of men--
The youth in life's fresh spring, and he who goes
In the full strength of years, matron and maid,
The speechless babe, and the gray-headed man--
Shall one by one be gathered to thy side,
By those, who in their turn, shall follow them.

So live, that when thy summons comes to join
The innumerable caravan, which moves
To that mysterious realm, where each shall take
His chamber in the silent halls of death,
Thou go not, like the quarry-slave at night,
Scourged to his dungeon, but, sustained and soothed
By an unfaltering trust, approach thy grave
Like one who wraps the drapery of his couch
About him, and lies down to pleasant dreams.

Not just a ball of fire in the sky

Not just a ball of fire in the sky

Not quite NASA's tools but, pretty cool regardless:

Real-time Magnetosphere Simulation


Solar Soft

Solar Sites


~ ~ ~

"A storm broke loose in my mind." -- Albert Einstein