Here are my (amateur quality) pictures I took of tonight’s super blood wolf moon* as it went into eclipse. It’s the first total lunar eclipse visible across the entire United States in eight years.
*Super because it appears about 10% bigger than it really is; blood because of its coppery color (red light from the sun bent around Earth, reaching it); wolf because it is the first full moon of the calendar year.
I got a tetanus booster shot this week (recommended by the CDC to be done every 10 years for adults).
The vaccine offers protection against a troublemaker bacterium called Clostridium tetani. Its nearly invincible spore form can be commonly found in soil. So stepping onto a rusty nail with bare feet – or really any cut in the skin – can let the bacterium in. Once inside one’s muscle tissue, it can start producing tetanospasmin, a toxin second only to botulinus for potency. The toxin attacks the central nervous system. An early symptom of an attack includes spasming of jaw muscles.
The tetanus vaccine contains tetanus toxoid, a chemically sterilized tetanus toxin that stimulates one’s immune system to produce antigens that are able to attack and dismantle active tetanus toxin.
I have finished reading Neil deGrasse Tyson’s quick-read book called Astrophysics for People in a Hurry. In the front is a quotation from Tyson, that I love: ‘The universe is under no obligation to make sense to you’.
Humans have certainly made strides to understand the mysteries of the universe, but we need another Newton, another Einstein, to help us out with understanding what we now call dark matter and dark energy.
Towards the end of the book, Tyson also offers: The cosmic perspective opens our eyes to the universe, not as a benevolent cradle designed to nurture life, but as a cold, lonely, hazardous place, forcing us to reassess the value of all humans to one another’.
Report from the Alaska Earthquake Center:
‘A magnitude 7.0 earthquake struck just seven miles north of Anchorage at 8:29 am on Friday morning, at a depth of about 27 mi (40 km). The earthquake caused power outages, damage to roads and buildings, and closures of schools, businesses and government offices. The extent of the damage is not yet clear, and we are still waiting for word on whether there were any casualties.
This is the largest earthquake to strike near Anchorage since the 2016 M7.1 Iniskin earthquake. Because this morning’s quake was so much closer, the impacts to Anchorage and Mat-Su are far more severe and widespread’.
The USGS aftershock forecast is as follows:
Low (4%) probability of another earthquake equal or greater than magnitude 7.0;
27% chance of a magnitude 6+ aftershock, and it is most likely that 0-3 of these will occur;
78% chance of magnitude 5 or greater aftershocks, but likely no more than around 20 of these;
Up to 2,200 aftershocks greater than magnitude 3 are possible.
The kilogram is currently defined as the mass of a chunk of platinum-iridium alloy created in 1889, that is housed at the International Bureau of Weights and Measures in Sèvres, France. (Le Grand kilogram, or Big K, as it is affectionately known).
But what if Big K gets stolen, or damaged? And it has already (mysteriously) lost some 50 micrograms since 1889. So this state of affairs will not do for the 21st century.
This Friday in Versailles, a gathering of the International Bureau of Weights and Measures, is expected to vote to redefine the kilogram by its existence as a unit in the Planck constant. This new definition is very complicated to explain (see here). For it to work, the Planck constant also had to be precisely defined and fixed to 9 significant digits, with the aid of a Kibble balance.
There is finally some rain on the way for Puget Sound, after a long stretch of dry weather. The meteorologists can see the systems approaching from way out west over the Pacific Ocean.
Below are some high-speed photographs of falling water drops, from an article published in 2009 by Emmanuel Villermaux. He wanted to study how big raindrops behave, as they make their way down to the ground. Raindrops of all sizes can come out of clouds, as the tiny drops (20 µm) combine to make bigger ones. But really big drops will flatten as they fall through the air, into little pancakes, then turn into little bags, and then break up altogether. So drops that reach the ground are at most 6 mm (0.25 in) in diameter. The terminal velocity of a rain drop is about 10 m/s (20 mph).
I love this picture of an octopus, the ‘chameleon of the seafloor’. The skin of an octopus is like that of a pointillistic work of art: it has millions of chromatophores (cells with pigments). Octopuses have yellow, orange, reds, browns or even black pigments, and can camouflage itself against its background when an enemy approaches. There is a complex connection between its brain, its nervous system, and the nerve cells that control the color of its skin.
Hurricane Michael will make landfall in the Florida panhandle tomorrow. It’s going to pack a powerful punch, with winds that could exceed 100 mph. At least it is projected keep moving at a steady pace, and not sit in one place like Florence did.
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.
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.