We did another little walk in the woods today – just through a woodsy area near Paul’s house here in the Hansville area.
This brown woodpecker is called a ‘northern flicker’ (Colaptes auratus). It spent a little time foraging for insects on my front lawn this morning. (Yes, the poor lawn is yellowed out from the three dry months of summer, but it will slowly start to green up, now that the rain is returning).
Here’s the No 10 bus stop closest to my house, that I frequently take to go to downtown.
Oaxaca (say ‘wa-HAH-ka’) is in southwestern Mexico and best known for its Zapotec and Mixtec indigenous peoples and cultures.
Look for a Grumpy Cat helium balloon carried by the child in the bottom middle of the picture.
As it happens, helium was discovered 150 years ago to the day, on August 18, 1868, by the French astronomer, Jules Janssen, during a total solar eclipse. There is a strong case to be made that helium balloons be banned.
We have a limited helium supply in Earth’s crust; we cannot manufacture it, and we need it for superconductors and MRI scanners. So putting helium in balloons is a frivolous waste. Once helium ends up in the atmosphere, it is lost forever into space – it is too light to be contained in the atmosphere by gravity.
The popcorn movie ‘The Meg*’ is out on the circuit. Even though I have not seen it yet, it’s fun to check the movie’s trailer online, and the posters for it. The movie is a co-production with China, and features actress Li Bingbing alongside Jason Statham.
*Short for Carcharodon megalodon, a really, really big shark (60 ft/ 20m) that roamed the oceans until about 2.6 million years ago.
The African crested porcupine that I mentioned in a post in May, has been caught, in the Spanaway area (south of the city of Tacoma).
His new home will be the Oregon Zoo in Portland, Oregon.
Here’s an article from Discover magazine, with the latest research about the Neanderthals: an extinct species of humans, that roamed around in ice-age Europe from 120,000 years, up to 35,000 years ago.
Will Homo sapiens still be around even a 1,000 years from now? Homo sapiens means ‘wise human’ .. a misnomer, it seems. Can modern-day humans should stop their wars, and stop destroying Earth?
I had not been to Mt Rainier ever since I had made Seattle my home, and so Bryan and I made a day trip out there today. We first stopped at the Sunrise Viewpoint to the northeast, and then drove around to the Paradise Viewpoint to the south. From there we hiked up the mountainside for an hour or so, to take a closer look at the mountain.
First thing on summer mornings, I open the kitchen door to let the cool morning air in.
I keep a leery eye on the squirrels that are usually out and about, or on the backyard fence. I doubt they will sneak into the house when I’m not looking .. but you never know.
I love this near-life size Tyrannosaurus Rex cut-out in the Target department store. The beast with its beady eye is used to flog Jurassic Park DVDs and toy models – as well as the opening of the new Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom movie, today.
Here is the latest picture I have added to my ‘2018 Animals’ folder for my iPad.
Animals that qualify, have to be ‘cute’ or otherwise ‘interesting’. (Yes, I know: not very scientific, my criteria).
Friday night saw almost 3 inches of rainfall in Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens in Cape Town. Still, the Cape Town City Council is said to be entertaining the possibility of towing an iceberg from Antarctica to Cape Town, to further help boost the city’s low water inventory. Say what? Can that possibly work? was my first reaction.
Well, here are the numbers*. Some 200 billion tons of ice from Antarctica slide into the sea in a typical year – the equivalent of more freshwater than the world uses in a year. Some icebergs float for 5 years in the ocean, and some make it to Gough Island. Such an iceberg could be towed from there, for the roughly 2,700 km (1,700 mi) distance to Cape Town. The iceberg will be stationed off the coast (Cape Columbine on the west coast is mentioned), and could conceivably deliver 100 megaliter of water every day for a year as it melts. (About 20% of the city of Cape Town’s needs). If such a project is can be pulled off successfully, its cost is projected to be less than half the cost of desalinating an equivalent amount of seawater.
*From an article in the Sat Jun 2 issue of ‘Die Burger’ newspaper.
There was a mountain lion (cougar) attack on two mountain bikers on Saturday morning. Isaac Sederbaum (31) was injured but is OK, but his friend S.J. Brooks (32), tragically, did not survive. Brooks was an avid biker that had moved here from Boston. Before Saturday, 16 cougar attacks, one of which was fatal, had been reported in Washington state during the past century.
I walked to Trader Joe’s grocery store late afternoon, the way I do once a month. I trade dollars at Trader Joe’s (well, electronic units of it) for frozen blueberries that I put in my hot oatmeal in the morning, and for unsweetened vanilla-flavored soy milk, that also goes with it. Good stuff !
I saw this jay sitting on my garage roof this morning, so I ran upstairs and snapped the Mr Jay Bird from my bedroom window. This one is called a Stellar’s jay, named after German naturalist Georg Wilhelm Steller. (Blue jays are close relatives, but a different species. Their feathers are mid-blues and they have a ‘black necklace’ on their off-white throats).
Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano erupted last week, causing lava at 2,200 °F (1,204 °C) to burst through cracks, and into people’s backyards in the Leilani Estates neighborhood on the Big Island. So far 36 structures, including 26 homes, have been destroyed.
Residents and the Hawaii National Guard are now on standby for a possible evacuation of 2,000 people. The lava level inside the volcano could drop below sea level. Once that happens, water will pour onto the lava, and generate steam that will likely explode from the summit in a shower or rocks, ash and sulfur dioxide gases.
The day temperature got up to 82 °F (28°C) on Thursday, tying the calendar day record for Seattle set back in 1947. But now our little Indian summer is over, and we will drop back to 66°F (18°C) on Friday, and even lower over the weekend.
The restaurant where my friends and I had our Wednesday beers & a bite, has old car licence plates for the covers of the menus. I was not sure what the rock image on the Wyoming plate was called, and had to look it up.
It’s Devil’s Tower, located in the north-eastern corner of Wyoming. Geologists still debate exactly how the structure was formed, described as a laccolithic butte composed of igneous rock. In plain English: an isolated hill with steep sides and a small, relatively flat top, formed by magma pressed into sedimentary layers and then pushed upwards.
Estero del Yugo is an estuary in the far northern outskirts of the city of Mazatlán. There is a trail around it that we traversed today. The foliage around the estuary is dry this time of year, and the water level was low.
Even so, we spotted herons, ibises, pelicans and a beautiful pileated woodpecker with its red-crested head. A single deer across the water made an appearance as well, but we did not see it again, even after we had made it to the other side.
March 14 is Pi* Day, celebrated by math geeks. But Michael Hartl says we should celebrate ‘Tau Day’ instead, in his Tau manifesto. Tau is an alternative circle constant referred to by the Greek letter τ that equals 2π, or approximately 6.28. (So Tau Day would be June 28).
*Pi is the Greek letter used in math for the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter. No matter the size of the circle, this is always the same value (approx. 3.14): a mathematical constant.
One big thing that Tau fixes, is radian angles (see diagram). It also makes sine and cosine functions simpler, and higher math like integrals in polar coordinates, the Fourier transform, and Cauchy’s integral, simpler.
He once said ‘The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance, it is the illusion of knowledge’.
The 50th Mersenne prime* was discovered in December, by Jonathan Pace in Tennessee. Yay! The gargantuan number is 277,232,917-1 (multiply together 77,232,917 twos and subtract one). The number has more than 23 million digits, and is also written as M77232917.
Alright – as of now, there is no real use for these monster numbers, but modestly large primes are put to good use in computer encryption.
The Great Internet Prime Search foundation will award $150,000 for the discovery of the first prime number with 100 million digits, and $250,000 for the first prime with at least a billion digits. The search is on!
*Prime numbers are whole numbers that can be divided only by themselves, and by 1. The number 1 is not considered a prime, but then the primes are 2, 3, 5, 7, 11 and so on. Mersenne primes are named for the French monk that studied them some 350 years ago. They are written in the form 2n -1. (So 3 is the first Mersenne prime, since it can be expressed as 22 -1). Euclid’s proof shows that there are infinitely many regular primes. We do not know if that is the case for Mersenne primes.