A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Posts Tagged ‘solar system

[BLOG] Some Friday links

  • Dangerous Minds suggests that T-shirts with wildly offensive phrases in English are common in Asia. Asian friends and readers, is this actually true?
  • The LRB Blog makes the point that immigration restrictionism is hardly a policy that will aid hard-pressed workers, that only broader reform will do this.
  • Marginal Revolution looks at how the state bureaucracy in India can hinder the implementation of reforms.
  • The NYRB Daily reviews a grim play, Wallace Shawn’s Evening at the Talk House, set in a near future where cruelty is normalized.
  • The Planetary Society Blog talks about the intricate maneuvers of the Dawn probe in Ceres orbit.
  • Personal Reflections’ Jim Belshaw links to photos of a stunning home in Catalonia built in a slightly refurbished industrial plant.
  • Peter Rukavina talks about how he built an app for Charlottetown’s City Cinema.
  • Seriously Science reports on a study suggesting that most people would not wish to know the future, even if it was a good future.
  • Strange Maps links to an online map tool comparing different countries.
  • Supernova Condensate shares a fantastic chart showing how much delta-v one would need to expend to reach different points in the solar system from Earth orbit.
  • Transit Toronto notes that the Sheppard subway line will be closed this weekend.
  • Linguist Arnold Zwicky links to and reflects on a recent article looking at how gendered language for different jobs can discourage, differently, male and female job-seekers.

[BLOG] Some Thursday links

  • blogTO shares some secrets about the TTC.
  • Centauri Dreams notes how exoplanet HAT-P-2b somehow induces pulsations in its parent star.
  • Citizen Science Salon looks at a new crowdsourcing effort to find Planet Nine from old WISE images.
  • Dangerous Minds reports on a marijuana bouquet delivery service.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze reports on the detection of the atmosphere of super-Earth Gliese 1132b./li>
  • Language Hat examines the different source languages for neologisms in Russian.
  • Language Log reports on an obscene Valentine’s Day ad from Sichuan.
  • The LRB Blog reports on the search of Syrians in Istanbul for health care.
  • Marginal Revolution reports on the fascist experimentations of economist Franco Modigliani.
  • The NYRB Daily reports on the stunning war art of Paul Nash.
  • Window on Eurasia notes that non-Russian republics tend to have better health indicators than the average, and warns of the potential instability that could be triggered by the failure of Putin’s vision for Trump.

[BLOG] Some Tuesday links

  • blogTO reports on the history of Toronto’s Wellington Street.
  • Dangerous Minds introduces me to the grim American gothic that is Wisconsin Death Trip. What happened to Black River Falls in the 1890s?
  • The Dragon’s Gaze links to hypotheses about KIC 8462852, one suggesting KIC 8462852 has four exoplanets, another talking about a planet’s disintegration.
  • The Dragon’s Tales links to a paper modeling the mantles of icy moons.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money looks at small city NIMBYism in the Oregon city of Eugene.
  • The LRB Blog reports on toxically racist misogyny directed towards Labour’s Diane Abbott by Tory minister David Davis, “misogynoir” as it is called.
  • Personal Reflections’ Jim Belshaw reports on the elections in Indonesia, a country increasingly important to Australia.
  • Peter Rukavina describes how the builders of his various indie phones, promising in their own rights, keep dropping them.
  • The Power and the Money’s Noel Maurer is optimistic that NAFTA will survive mostly as is.
  • The Volokh Conspiracy examines the ruling against Trump’s immigration order on the grounds that its planners explicitly designed it as an anti-Muslim ban.
  • Window on Eurasia suggests that the treaty-based federalism of Tatarstan within Russia is increasingly unpopular with many wanting a more centralized country.

[BLOG] Some Monday links

  • blogTO notes an Instagram user from Toronto, @brxson, who takes stunning photos of the city from on high.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze links to a paper examining the limits of exoplanet J1407b’s massive ring system.
  • The Dragon’s Tales notes evidence that the primordial Martian atmosphere apparently did not have carbon dioxide.
  • Imageo notes that the California rivers swollen by flooding can be seen from space.
  • Joe. My. God. notes that American intelligence agencies are withholding sensitive information from a White House seen as compromised by Russian intelligence.
  • Language Hat talks about the best ways to learn Latin.
  • Marginal Revolution links to a paper observing a decline in inter-state migration in the United States.
  • The NYRB Daily looks at the interesting failure of a public sculpture program in the United Kingdom in the 1970s.
  • Personal Reflections’ Jim Belshaw notes the remarkable heat that has hit Australia in recent days.
  • The Planetary Society Blog reports on the intersection between space technology and high-tech fashion.
  • The Power and the Money’s Noel Maurer looks at how Argentina gave the Falkland Islands tariff-free access to Mercosur.
  • The Russian Demographics Blog looks at the countries likely to be vulnerable to rapid aging.
  • Transit Toronto notes the Bombardier lawsuit against Metrolinx.
  • Window on Eurasia argues that poor Russian statistical data is leading directly to bad policy.

[BLOG] Some Friday links

  • Centauri Dreams notes the sad news that, because of the destructive way in which the stellar activity of young red dwarfs interacts with oxygen molecules in exoplanet atmospheres, Proxima Centauri b is likely not Earth-like.
  • Crooked Timber takes issue with the idea of Haidt that conservatives are uniquely interested in the idea of purity.
  • D-Brief notes the discovery of an intermediate-mass black hole in the heart of 47 Tucanae.
  • The Dragon’s Tales reports on the search for Planet Nine.</li.
  • Far Outliers reports on the politics in 1868 of the first US Indian Bureau.
  • Imageo maps the depletion of sea ice in the Arctic.
  • Language Hat remembers the life of linguist Patricia Crampton.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money notes some of the potential pitfalls involved with Buy American campaigns (and like political programs in other countries), including broad-based xenophobia.
  • The LRB Blog looks at nationalism and identity in their intersections with anti-Muslim sentiment in Québec.
  • The Map Room Blog links to an essay on the last unmapped places.
  • Torontoist notes the 2017 Toronto budget is not going to support affordable housing.
  • Transit Toronto reports on TTC revisions to its schedules owing to shortfalls in equipment, like buses.
  • Window on Eurasia claims that Putin needs a successful war in Ukraine to legitimize his rule, just as Nicholas II needed a victory to save Tsarism.

[LINK] “Why Is NASA Neglecting Venus?”

The Atlantic‘s David Brown wonders why NASA is neglecting the study of Venus, arguably the most Earth-like world known to us.

A generation has now gone by since the agency set a course for the second planet from the Sun, and with this latest mission opportunity lost, the earliest an expedition there might launch (from some future selection process) would be 2027—nearly 40 years since our last visit.

For centuries, it would have been inconceivable that Venus would be in such a predicament. In the 18th century, Venus was the organizing force in international science. When humanity was finally able to stretch its arms toward the solar system, the first place it reached for was Venus. It was our first successful planetary encounter beyond Earth, and was the first planet on which humans crashed. It would later would host our first graceful landing.

Venus and Earth are practically twins. They’re alike in size, density, gravity, and physical makeup. They are both in our star’s habitable zone. Scientists have discovered no other adjacent planets in the entire galaxy that share such similarities. And yet somewhere along the way, Earth became a cosmic paradise for life as we know it, and Venus became a blistering hellscape. Beneath its sienna clouds of sulfuric acid is the greenhouse effect gone apocalyptic. At 850 degrees Fahrenheit, its surface is hotter than Mercury, though the planet itself is much farther from the Sun. A block of lead would melt on the surface of Venus the way a block of ice melts on Earth.

In recent years, the Kepler space telescope has discovered more than 3,000 planets around other stars, many of which are orbiting in habitable zones where water could be stable on a planet’s surface. These “Earth 2.0’s” are but pixels of light many light years away and are difficult to study. Conveniently, there is an Earth 2.0 next door to our own. Venus was an ocean world for much of its history. By understanding that history, how it compares to Earth, and how it lost its habitability, we might better understand potentially habitable exo-worlds.

Moreover, as scientists and lawmakers grapple with climate change, they can look to Venus. “I don’t want to say that Earth can turn into Venus from global warming,” says Bob Grimm, the director of the Department of Space Studies at the Southwest Research Institute and chair of the Venus Exploration Analysis Group. “That is not going to happen. It takes a lot of carbon dioxide to make Venus’s atmosphere as hellish as it is. But that lies on a continuum, on a spectrum, of how CO2 in atmospheres affect planetary climates. Earth is not going to turn into Venus, but Venus has lessons on climate evolution for Earth that we should pay attention to.”

Written by Randy McDonald

January 24, 2017 at 10:00 pm

[LINK] “Why Saturn’s moon Titan is the best spot for an off-world colony”

MacLean’s‘ Mike Doherty has an interview with two authors, Amanda R. Hendrix and Charles Wohlforth, who argue that if humankind is ever to embark in on an expensive program of colonization in space (something much more expensive than fixing our world, they argue), Titan not Mars should be the target.

Q: Why is humanity so fixated on travelling to Mars?

AH: It’s always been fascinating because back in the earliest observations, it looked like there were canals on Mars and some sort of greenery, [as if] there could be aliens. It remains a good option for looking for past life, and more accessible than some of the places in the outer solar system that might have current life. So it’s interesting as a target scientifically, but for long-term human settlement, it’s not the place to go.

CW: We’re a very long way from being able to put humans safely on Mars. The issues with [brain damage from] galactic cosmic rays, or GCRs, are serious, and in the past year, NASA has really come to recognize them: an internal document says you only have 150 days of safe travel unprotected—which won’t get you anywhere near a Mars-and-back mission with current technology. It’s probably time to level with the American people, and setting a farther-out human habitation goal is a better way to start solving those problems, rather than thinking about a short-term trip to Mars that’s probably not going to happen.

[. . .]

Q: Why specifically is Titan the place to go, and can we realistically get people as excited about Titan as we have been about Mars?

AH: Titan is a much more interesting place just visually; in terms of the landscape and the opportunities there, Titan offers so much more. It’s really Earth-like: it’s the only other place in the solar system that has any liquid on the surface. It’s not water, but it’s ethane and methane, and there’s a nice atmosphere. It’s one-and-a-half* the [atmospheric] pressure that we feel here on Earth, so it’s not too much and not too little. The main benefit, of course, is that people will be shielded from a lot of the the GCRs that are so damaging. It takes a long time to get there, and it’s cold, but there are ways around that.

Written by Randy McDonald

December 7, 2016 at 10:30 pm