Monday, August 30, 2021

Clearing Up Human Extinction

"There is no evidence of climate change scenarios that would render human beings extinct," Michael Mann, a distinguished professor of atmospheric science at Penn State and author of "The New Climate War: The Fight to Take Back Our Planet" (PublicAffairs, 2021), told Live Science in an email.
cc: Extinction Rebellion, Jem Bendell

Heel-to-Heel and Other Crosby News

Hockey season is less than four weeks away... The National Hockey League, that is. The regular season starts on October 12th with my team, the Penguins, at the Stanley Cup winning (again) Tampa Bay Lightning. 

2022 also has hockey in the Winter Olympics, and it looks like Canada has made their choice for captain, as if there was ever going to be any choice: Sidney Crosby. (Of course, he's also captain of the Pittsburgh Penguins.) Here's Crosby and his fellow hometowner (close enough) Nate MacKinnon wearing the Canadian sweaters, with Crosby sporting the captain's "C" on his left shoulder:
If you're a hockey fan (or, needless to say, Canadian), Sidney Crosby will forever be a national hero due to scoring one of the most famous goals in hockey history/Canadian history (is there any difference?) at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics in Vancouver, defeating the United States to win the gold medal in overtime. Here's a nice look back from the CBC:

Here's the live version of the play. First Crosby takes the puck through most of the U.S. team. Then, he defeats another U.S player to pass the puck. Then -- I didn't learn this until recently -- is that at 0:08 in the video you can hear Crosby yell "Iggy." He's shouting at Jarome Iginla, who he (Crosby) had just tossed the puck to back in the corner, to feed him the puck back on his (Crosby's) way to the goal. Amazing to able to hear that over the sound of the crowd.

Anyway, before I found the tweet on top with Crosby wearing Canada's "C," I was just going to post the video below, about Crosby's edgework on his skates. Crosby does this thing that I don't know if anyone else does, and you can see in the video's screencap and several times in the video -- at times he puts his skates heel-to-heel, so his feet are splayed out at 180 degrees to one another, and he then circles around, usually from behind the goal. Not only does he seem to gather a lot of speed from this maneuver, he keeps his face in front of him the entire time, looking right at the puck, instead of having to look to the side as everyone else has to when they're skating sideways. It's really beautiful to watch when he does it and it seems very effective.

I really regret that I didn't start watching hockey seriously until 2018, after the Penguins won their back-to-back Stanley Cups in 2015-16 and 2016-17, and most of all that I missed watching Sidney Crosby in his glory days from 2005 to about 2017, when he was spectacular. He's still pretty good, especially as a 200-foot player and particularly as a leader, and many people put him as one of the best five players to ever play the game (along with Gretzy, Lemieux, Orr, and Howe). But the Penguins aren't serious contenders anymore -- they've lost in the first round of the playoffs for three years in a row now -- and their superstars -- Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang -- are all in their mid-30s -- and they're slowing down and the team don't have the size needed in today's NHL, it seems. It's unlikely Crosby can lead them to another Stanley Cup. But hey, he has three, which is a lot more than most. And he has the Golden Goal, and about every trophy that it's possible to win. And he's such a nice guy.

Thanks for allowing an indulgent post. I guess this blog has become one of whatever I find interesting.

Tuesday, August 24, 2021

"Foundation" Trailer

A television series based on Isaac Asimov's Foundation trilogy is coming to Apple TV+ on September 24, and the trailer (below) looks pretty good. It has two actors I like a lot, Lee Pace (of Halt and Catch Fire) and Jared Harris (of Chernobyl, Mad Men, and a lot else I don't know about I'm sure). Fortunately, I received a free year of Apple TV+ when I bought a new iPhone 12 this past spring, though I might have subscribed just to watch this. (It's only $4.99/month.) 

Another scifi show this channel has coming is Invasion -- "Earth is visited by an alien species that threatens humanity's existence." Trailer below, from the producer of The Martian, coming October 22. Looks rather cliched, and not as good. How could it be?

I started reading Asimov's Foundation trilogy a long time ago, and only made it about a third of the way though. I wasn't as into scifi then as I am now, so I'm going to go back and give it another go. What I mainly remember is that the nuclear powered spaceships seemed rather out-of-date, scifi-speaking, compared to Star Trek, Star Wars, etc. (But maybe more realistic!) I once saw Asimov speak at a scifi convention when I was a graduate student at Stony Brook. But then I wasn't into scifi at all and I don't remember a thing he said. But I had read several of his nonfiction books when I was in high school and college, books with chapters where he would just riff about various planets and on comets and asteroids and the solar system and whatever came to his mind--and a lot always came to his mind!--which I always found interesting. So I wanted to see him in person.

Friday, August 20, 2021

The Quiet Rage of the Responsible

That was the title of Paul Krugman's NYT column today: The Quiet Rage of the Responsible. Some put it in other ways, as below. I'm starting to feel angry, too, feeling that it's time to hunker down again, stay at home, when I barely started going out. With colder weather coming and now this much more contagious variant I wonder if this fall and winter is going to get worse than last year. I felt lucky to be spared last year and now it's seems we have to run the gauntlet again, largely because of the irresponsible and stupid behavior of a minority (read: MAGA) of America.

One thing I'm very thankful for is that I live in a part of the country where people are smart enough to take this pandemic seriously. The governor here in Oregon reinstituted a mask mandate as of last Friday, and when I was in the grocery store on Monday everyone had a mask on. I didn't see a single exception. COVID is rising in my county, which does contains a lot of rural area, but at least here in the suburbs, people are taking masks seriously.    

A 25-year-old Over a Burrito

Lee Billings of Scientific American has a great, lengthy article on the "Decadal Survey," or Astro2020, the Astronomy and Astrophysics Decadal Survey. This report, which comes out every ten years and is a year overdue but is now in final peer review and supposed to be coming out sometime soon, sets priorities for US astronomical projects for the next ten years. It's so important towards determining which megatelescopes get funded that, as someone in the article says, it's sometimes called "the voice of God." As I'm currently writing a long article about astrobiology, I found it very clarifying and insightful.

Anyway, in terms of the Decadal Survey's impact on funding priorities, there's this interesting and revealing quote near the end of the article. "Tremblay" is Grant Tremblay, an astronomer at the Center for Astrophysics at Harvard University and the Smithsonian Institution, then there's this wonderful (in its way) quote from a "Beltway insider."

Or rather the New Great Observatories can only happen if astronomers become more savvy at what Gaudi has termed “astropolitics.” “I’m utterly convinced a ‘New Great Observatories’ program with Lynx, Origins, and LUVOIR or HabEx—a ‘LuvEx,’ so to speak—could be done with a single phone call to the right person,” Tremblay says. “Because on Capitol Hill, it’s not about total cost—it’s about annual appropriation. A couple hundred million dollars a year added to NASA’s astrophysics line would suffice.”

Such hopeful speculations are not necessarily just wishful thinking. “We’re talking a 1 or 2 percent increase in real dollars to NASA’s budget to enable another Great Observatories program,” says one Beltway insider. “These are the perturbations concerted advocacy can create. Only about 30 senators are really involved in appropriations, and the annual discretionary budget of the federal government is running at about $2 trillion. So divide $2 trillion by 30 and then factor in the staffers working for each of those senators. You’ll find, perhaps to your horror, that anything much below about half a billion dollars a year is essentially left to staffers and lost in the margins.” Tremblay puts it more bluntly. “NASA does not really work for the Executive Office of the President,” he says. “It works for the 25-year-olds a few years out of college who serve on appropriations committees. A flagship mission—or a whole new series of Great Observatories—could be green-lit over lunch by some low-level staffer while they’re eating a burrito.”

Monday, August 16, 2021

Milky Way Over Mt Hood

A stunning photograph, by Ben Jackman, an amateur photographer from Portland, Oregon, via Facebook. Posted with permission.

The Ice Mountains of Pluto

This is just amazing -- it looks like sci fi, but it's real. Having read books like The Search for Planet X as a boy, its a real delight to see something like this later in life:

Friday, August 13, 2021

July: Hottest Month Ever Recorded

NOAA found the anomaly for the global mean surface temperature to be 0.93°C; NASA found 0.92°C, both were records for July in their respective datasets. And since July is the warmest month of the year, that makes July 2021 the hottest month in recorded history -- since 1880. OK, it was warmest only by 0.01°C. But a record's a record. 0.01°C a year is 1°C a century, after all, nothing to disregard in itself. It was hot in many places, and at least warm almost everywhere, except in the US midwest and south and in southern Africa:

Monday, August 09, 2021

More on the Acceleration of Global Warming

Here's more on the acceleration of global warming according to the Copernicus database. Their measurements start only in 1979, but we can see that the globe has warmed about 0.8 °C in just over 40 years. And that the second-order fit (=> acceleration) is better than the linear fit). But their dataset doesn't give us the total warming since the pre-industrial era.

However, if we project these trendlines out, we see that, relative to 1979, we're on a path to have about 1.2°C of warming by 2030 and 2.0°C of warming by 2050. Not good at all.

The only way to get decent figures on this crappy blogging system is if you click on them.

Amazing Fire Scene from Greece

Looks like something from a virtual reality set, but it's the scene from a boat as it leaves an island in Greece:

Sunday, August 08, 2021

Global Warming is Accelerating

These days the Copernicus Climate Change Service in Europe is the first monthly with a measure of the global average surface temperature anomaly, usually only a few days into the month.
They give the global anomaly, and one for Europe; their dataset starts in January 1979.
There's only about 10 and a few years available where you can calculate the 30-year trend.

But during that time, that trend is definitely increasing:

In 2009 the 30-year trend was 0.15°C/decade.

Now it's almost 0.25 C/decade.

The trend is increasing. A lot. In just over a decade.

The rate of global warming is increasing. That is, global warming is accelerating.