Wednesday, June 23, 2010

11. Climate Change - An imminent ice age debunked

In 2005 the media told us we were on the brink of another ice age. What happened?

(in chronological order)

Movie clip at the beginning from "The Day After Tomorrow"

Broeker's hypothesis that melting ice will interrupt thermohaline circulation:
"Thermohaline Circulation, the Achilles Heel of Our Climate System; Will Man-Made CO2 Upset the Current Balance?" -- Wallace S. Broeker, Science (Nov 28 1997)

Linkage of glaciation to shut down of AMOC:
"A model for Northern Hemisphere continental ice sheet variation"
-- R. G. Johnson and B. T. McClure, Quaternary Research (Sep 1976)

See also "Was the Younger Dryas Triggered by a Flood?"
Wallace S. Broecker, Science (May 26, 2006)

"Slowing of the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation at 25° N"
-- Harry L. Bryden et al, Nature (Dec 1, 2005)


"Britain faces Big Freeze as Gulf Stream Loses Strength"
-- The Times (Dec 1, 2005)

"New Gulf Stream fears bring UK Ice Age warning"
-- The Evening Standard (Sep 6, 2001)

"Scientists probing a dying current bring worst climate fears to the surface."
-- The Australian, (Dec 5, 2005)

"Fears of Big Freeze as Scientists Detect Slower Gulf Stream"
-- The Independent (Dec 1, 2005)

RealClimate quote "while continued monitoring of this key climatic area is clearly warranted, the imminent chilling of the (sic) Europe is a ways off yet" at

Richard Wood saying Britain and Scandinavia should cool if Gulf Stream slowdown was real:
"Failing ocean current raises fears of mini ice age"
-- New Scientist, (Nov 30, 2005)

Gavin Schmidt saying surface temps should have dipped:
"Scientists Say Slower Atlantic Currents Could Mean a Colder Europe"
-- New York Times (Dec 1, 2005)

Robert Dickson saying much more data was needed to determine whether a slowdown was underway:

Harry Bryden saying not sure if change was temporary or signals a long-term trend:
"Failing ocean current raises fears of mini ice age"
-- New Scientist, (Nov 30, 2005)

Bryden says a variable signal, but too early to detect any trends:
"No new ice age for western Europe."
-- New Scientist, (Nov 7, 2006)

Wunch saying it's a complicated story reduced to a fairytale:

"Sea change: why global warming could leave Britain feeling the cold"
-- The Guardian (Oct 27, 2006)

"Can in situ floats and satellite altimeters detect long-term changes in Atlantic Ocean overturning?"
-- Josh K. Willis, GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH LETTERS (Mar 25, 2010)

"New climate change myth: Gulf Stream is NOT slowing down"
-- Daily Mail (Mar 30, 2010)

-- Daily Mail (Dec 2, 2005)

"Global warming 'will bring cooler climate for UK'"
-- Daily Telegraph (Dec 1, 2005)

"Gulf Stream is not slowing down, scientists claim."
-- Daily Telegraph (Mar 30, 2010)

1970s ice age myth busted at "Climate Change -- Anatomy of a Myth" on Potholer54 YouTube channel

Why Common Design Common Designer = FAIL

Intelligent Design advocates claim that when we see similarities between organisms, common designs, they must be evidence of a common designer. Here I show why this catchy little phrase fails miserably.

Intelligent Design is built on two pillars: Irreducible Complexity, and Design. I have previously shown that evolution predicts the IC systems will evolve. Here I disprove the concept of design.

Is life designed? Actually, yes. But the designer is not an intelligent supernatural being, life is sculpted by the environment through natural selection. Mother Nature and Father Time are the designers of life.

To download this video copyright free please go to:

Please Note: there are some prokaryotes with what resemble simple organelles, while some eukaryotes do have genomes almost completely devoid of introns, but those are the overwhelming minority.

And remember to always, Think about it.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Exoplanet Exploration: PlanetQuest Historic Timeline

Exoplanet Exploration: NASA PlanetQuest Historic Timeline

The NASA interactive multimedia timeline traces the search for extrasolar planets, from ancient philosophical speculation to modern discoveries.

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Exoplanet Exploration: Planet Quest Key Milestones

• 450 B.C.: Greeks ponder the existence of other worlds
• 1750: Wright describes the Milky Way as a massive disk of stars
• 1992: Woszczan and Frail discover rocky planets
• 1995: Mayor and Queloz find a planet at 51 Pegasi
• 1999: First transiting exoplanet observed
• 2005: Spitzer observed direct light from an exoplanet
• 2008: First visible-light exoplanet images released


Are we alone? Searching for Earthlike Worlds

For centuries, human beings have pondered this question. Medieval scholars speculated that other worlds must exist and that some would harbor other forms of life. In our time, advances in science and technology have brought us to the threshold of finding an answer to this timeless question.

The recent discovery of numerous planets around stars other than the sun confirms that our solar system is not unique. Indeed, these "exoplanets" appear to be common in our galactic neighborhood.

The exoplanets we have discovered so far are giants, like Jupiter and Saturn. They are unlikely to support life as we know it. But some of these planetary systems might also contain smaller, terrestrial planets like Mars and Earth.

Over the next 15 years, NASA is embarking on a bold series of missions to find and characterize new worlds. These will be the most sensitive instruments ever built, capable of reaching beyond the bounds of our own solar system.

The Keck Interferometer combines the light of the world's largest optical telescopes, extending our vision to new distances. Using a technique known as interferometry, the Keck will study dust clouds around stars where Earthlike planets may be forming.

NASA's Kepler Mission, scheduled to launch in 2009, will survey our region of the Milky Way galaxy to detect and characterize hundreds of Earth-size and smaller planets. It will tell us whether planets like Earth are common or rare in our galaxy.

SIM PlanetQuest, to follow Kepler, will measure the distances and positions of stars with unprecedented accuracy. SIM's precision will allow us to locate planets in the habitable zones around nearby stars.

Finally, the Terrestrial Planet Finder will build upon the legacy of all that have gone before it. With an imaging power 100 times greater than the Hubble Space Telescope, the Terrestrial Planet Finder observatories will provide the first photographs of nearby planetary systems.

We will analyze the atmospheres of these distant worlds, looking for carbon dioxide, water and ozone. The substantial presence of all three gasses would suggest that life is present. Such a discovery would at last provide convincing evidence that we are not alone. We will have found another Earth.

Follow the history of planet hunting from science fiction to science fact with NASA's PlanetQuest Historic Timeline at

The interactive PlanetQuest web feature, developed by JPL, conveys the story of exoplanet exploration through a rich tapestry of words and images spanning thousands of years, beginning with the musings of ancient philosophers and continuing through the current era of space-based observations by NASA's Spitzer and Kepler missions. The timeline highlights milestones in culture, technology and science, and includes a planet counter that tracks the pace of exoplanet discoveries over time.

• More information about exoplanets and NASA's planet-finding program:
• 3D New Worlds Atlas - A visual guide to exoplanets:


Related videos:

NASA/Spitzer Hidden Universe (Episode 4): Night And Day On An Alien World

NASA/Spitzer Hidden Universe (Episode 16): The X-Planets

Hubblecast 12: An Extrasolar Planet's Atmosphere

Hubblecast 14: Organic Molecules On Extrasolar Planets

ESOcast 11: Exoplanets Galore - 32 New Extrasolar Planets Found

ESOcast 18: Exoplanet Caught On The Move

The Webb Space Telescope (JWST): Finding Earth-like Planets

Hubble's Universe Unfiltered (Episode 7): Eye Spy A Planet - Extrasolar Planets

Friday, June 18, 2010

Jupiter's New Spot

Jupiter's New Spot - an amateur astronomer discovers a new, mysterious spot on Jupiter.

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New black spot - Possible New Impact on Jupiter

Amateur astronomer Anthony Wesley from Canberra, Australia captured an image of Jupiter on July 19 showing a possible new impact site. Anthony's image shows a new dark spot in the South Polar Region of Jupiter, at approximately 216° longitude in System 2. It looks very similar to the impact marks made on Jupiter when comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 crashed into the gas giant in 1994.

It has been confirmed this is an impact on Jupiter. Mike Salway shared the news Glenn Orton from JPL has imaged the Jupiter black spot with the NASA Infrared Telescope and he has confirmed it's an impact.

On his observing blog, Anthony Wesley said he began observing Jupiter at approximately 11pm local time (1300UTC), using a 14.5" Newtonian telescope. "I'd noticed a dark spot rotating into view in Jupiter's south polar region and was starting to get curious," he wrote. "When first seen close to the limb (and in poor conditions) it was only a vaguely dark spot, I thought likely to be just a normal dark polar storm. However as it rotated further into view, and the conditions also improved, I suddenly realized that it wasn't just dark, it was black in all channels, meaning it was truly a black spot."

First he thought it might be a dark moon (like Callisto) or a moon shadow, but it was in the wrong place and the wrong size. "Also I'd noticed it was moving too slow to be a moon or shadow. As far as I could see it was rotating in sync with a nearby white oval storm that I was very familiar with -- this could only mean that the back feature was at the cloud level and not a projected shadow from a moon. I started to get excited."


Calacademy's Science in Action strives to make science accessible for everyone and discuss its relevance in our everyday lives. We bring you science news through media screens and live chats on the museum floor, this Science Today website, podcasts, and monthly Nightlife programming. We gather and disseminate content through our partners, local programs, other media and Academy staff. And you.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

The X-Planets

The Hidden Universe of the Spitzer Space Telescope (Episode 16): The X-Planets (Showcase).

These two extreme planets have set the records for the hottest and windiest known worlds anywhere.

This is the Hidden Universe of the Spitzer Space Telescope, exploring the mysteries of infrared astronomy with your host Dr. Robert Hurt.

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'The Hidden Universe' video series showcases some of the most exciting discoveries in infrared astronomy from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope. Looking beyond the visible spectrum of light, Spitzer can see a whole new universe of dust and stars hidden from our Earth-bound eyes.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Science Bytes - Episode 19

In this episode, we continue our exploration into logical fallacies. Music by Kevin MacLeod. Please send any and all submissions to

Herschel's First Year In Space

ESA Space Science & Technology: Herschel One Year After Launch.

The European Space Agency's Herschel Space Observatory (formerly called Far Infrared and Sub-millimetre Telescope or FIRST) has the largest single mirror ever built for a space telescope. At 3.5-metres in diameter the mirror will collect long-wavelength radiation from some of the coldest and most distant objects in the Universe. In addition, Herschel will be the only space observatory to cover a spectral range from the far infrared to sub-millimetre.

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The Herschel Space Observatory is the largest infrared space observatory launched to date. Equipped with a 3.5 metre diameter reflecting telescope and instruments cooled to close to absolute zero, Herschel will observe at wavelengths that have never previously been explored. After a roughly 60-day journey from Earth, Herschel will spend a nominal mission lifetime of three years in orbit around the second Lagrange point of the Sun-Earth system (L2).

Infrared astronomy is a young and exciting science. In recent decades infrared astronomers have unveiled tens of thousands of new galaxies, and have made surprising discoveries such as the huge amounts of water vapour that fill our Galaxy. Yet scientists know there is still much more to discover. Objects such as other planetary systems, or processes like the birth of galaxies in the early Universe, can best be studied with infrared telescopes situated in space and therefore freed from the restrictions imposed by the Earth's atmosphere. This is the reason ESA is constructing the Herschel observatory.

The Herschel spacecraft is approximately 7.5 metres high and 4 × 4 metres in overall cross section, with a launch mass of around 3.4 tonnes. The spacecraft comprises a service module, which houses systems for power conditioning, attitude control, data handling and communications, together with the warm parts of the scientific instruments, and a payload module. The payload module consists of the telescope, the optical bench, with the parts of the instruments that need to be cooled, i.e. the sensitive detector units and cooling systems. The payload module is fitted with a sunshield, which protects the telescope and cryostat from solar visible and infrared radiation and also prevents Earth straylight from entering the telescope. The sunshield also carries solar cells for the electric power generation.

LAUNCH DATE: 14-May-2009 13:12 UT
MISSION END: 2012 (extended mission)
LAUNCH MASS: 3400 kg


* Study the formation of galaxies in the early universe and their subsequent evolution
* Investigate the creation of stars and their interaction with the interstellar medium
* Observe the chemical composition of the atmospheres and surfaces of comets, planets and satellites
* Examine the molecular chemistry of the universe


* HIFI (Heterodyne Instrument for the Far Infrared), a very high resolution heterodyne spectrometer
* PACS (Photodetector Array Camera and Spectrometer) - an imaging photometer and medium resolution grating spectrometer
* SPIRE (Spectral and Photometric Imaging Receiver) - an imaging photometer and an imaging Fourier transform spectrometer

Friday, June 11, 2010

The Coke Zero & Mentos Rocket Car

About The Coke Zero & Mentos Rocket Car

After years of work, the Coke & Mentos guys have harnessed the explosive power of these geysers and achieved human propulsion! 108 bottles of Coke Zero and 648 Mentos mints combine to propel EepyBird into the annals of unusual records.

The music is an original track by BT, written just for this video. Check out

How Does This Work?

This is one not to try at home.

The Coke Zero & Mentos Rocket Car uses a piston mechanism: a six-foot long rod sits inside a six-foot long tube attached to each bottle of Coke Zero. When the Mentos drop into the soda, the pressure tries to push the rod out of the tube. With 108 rods all pushing at once, that gives us a lot of power.

All that power is pushing against a wall braced with 3,600 pounds of cement blocks. So all the force is directed into moving the Coke Zero & Mentos Rocket Car forward. We get one big push for six feet, and then it's all coasting from there.

Want to know what makes the soda fly out of the bottle? Will you explode if you drink Coke and eat Mentos? Click here to find out:

Don't Try This at Home!

Seriously, don't try this at home. There is a huge amount of power involved, and we don't want you to get hurt.

What you can (and should) try at home is the Coke & Mentos geyser: you can get your own Coke & Mentos Kit at that includes nozzles just like the ones we use in our geyser videos, or you can click here to learn how you can make Coke & Mentos geysers with stuff from around your house:


The Coke Zero & Mentos Rocket Car by EepyBird: Fritz Grobe (the short one) and Stephen Voltz (the tall one). Directed by Rob Cohen. Music by BT. Produced by Dooma Wendschuh & sekretagent. Filmed in Tustin, California. Thanks to the incomparable EepyBird pit crew: Mike Miclon, Big Dave Tardy, Matt Tardy, and Casey Turner.

The Coke Zero & Mentos Rocket Car was welded together from an odd assortment of parts by Nick Salvati with light-saber-wielding assistance from Mike Miclon. Special thanks to the experimental research team from the Oddfellow Theater, including Mike Miclon, Matt Tardy, Jason Tardy, Dave Tardy, Casey Turner, Sid Edwards, and Brian Miclon.

And thanks to Stafford Green, Craig Cuchra, and all the folks at Coke Zero and Mentos for helping make this possible!

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Inside Natures Giants Season 1 Episode 4 The Giraffe Part 5/5 HD

All 5 Parts

Please subscribe to youtube channel WhyEvolutionIsTrue for more evolution programs.

WARNING - contains EXPLICIT scenes of animal dissections.

Season 1 Episode 4 : The Giraffe

Inside Nature's Giants dissects the largest animals on the planet to uncover their evolutionary secrets. Most wildlife documentaries tell you how an animal behaves, but by dissecting the animal and studying its anatomy we can we can see how an animal works. Experts in comparative anatomy, evolution and behaviour will put some of the most popular and enigmatic large animals under the knife. Veterinary scientist, Mark Evans, will interpret their findings, biologist Simon Watts tests the animals' physiology in the field and Richard Dawkins traces back the animals' place on the tree of life.

Experts in anatomy, evolution and behaviour examine a giraffe. For Professor Richard Dawkins, the evolution of the world's tallest animal provides some of the best evidence in favour of Darwinian natural selection.

Inside Natures Giants Season 2 Episode 1 Great White Shark Part 1/5 HD

Please subscribe to Youtube channel WhyEvolutionIsTrue for more evolution programs.

WARNING contains EXPLICIT scenes of animal dissections.

Season 2 Episode 1 : The Great White Shark

Inside Nature's Giants dissects the largest animals on the planet to uncover their evolutionary secrets. Most wildlife documentaries tell you how an animal behaves, but by dissecting the animal and studying its anatomy we can we can see how an animal works. Experts in comparative anatomy, evolution and behaviour will put some of the most popular and enigmatic large animals under the knife. Veterinary scientist, Mark Evans, will interpret their findings, biologist Simon Watts tests the animals' physiology in the field and Richard Dawkins traces back the animals' place on the tree of life.

The experts travel to South Africa to dissect a 900kg, 15-foot-long great white shark.
Comparative anatomist Joy Reidenberg uncovers the shark's incredible array of senses, including the ability to detect the electro-magnetic field given off by other creatures.
Veterinary scientist Mark Evans investigates the origins of the shark's infamous killing bite and, out at sea, a bite force test on a live great white shows just how powerful those jaws really are.
Evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins explains how sharks' teeth and jaws evolved from their outer skin and gill arches.
And the programme asks whether the animal's reputation as a man killer is really deserved.

Thursday, June 10, 2010


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A Super Jupiter Makes its Mark

This ESOCast video shows how astronomers, for the first time, were able to directly follow the motion of an exoplanet as it moves from one side of its host star to the other. The planet has the smallest orbit so far of all directly imaged exoplanets, lying almost as close to its parent star as Saturn is to the Sun. Scientists believe that it may have formed in a similar way to the giant planets in the Solar System. Because the star is so young, this discovery proves that gas giant planets can form within discs in only a few million years, a short time in cosmic terms.

Only 12 million years old, or less than three-thousandths of the age of the Sun, Beta Pictoris is 75% more massive than our parent star. It is located about 60 light-years away towards the constellation of Pictor (the Painter) and is one of the best-known examples of a star surrounded by a dusty debris disc [1].

Earlier observations showed a warp of the disc, a secondary inclined disc and comets falling onto the star. "Those were indirect, but tell-tale signs that strongly suggested the presence of a massive planet, and our new observations now definitively prove this," says team leader Anne-Marie Lagrange. "Because the star is so young, our results prove that giant planets can form in discs in time-spans as short as a few million years." Recent observations have shown that discs around young stars disperse within a few million years, and that giant planet formation must occur faster than previously thought. Beta Pictoris is now clear proof that this is indeed possible.

The team used the NAOS-CONICA instrument (or NACO [2]), mounted on one of the 8.2-meter Unit Telescopes of ESO's Very Large Telescope (VLT), to study the immediate surroundings of Beta Pictoris in 2003, 2008 and 2009. In 2003 a faint source inside the disc was seen (eso0842), but it was not possible to exclude the remote possibility that it was a background star. In new images taken in 2008 and spring 2009 the source had disappeared!

The most recent observations, taken during autumn 2009, revealed the object on the other side of the disc after a period of hiding either behind or in front of the star (in which case it is hidden in the glare of the star). This confirmed that the source indeed was an exoplanet and that it was orbiting its host star. It also provided insights into the size of its orbit around the star.

The planet has a mass of about nine Jupiter masses and the right mass and location to explain the observed warp in the inner parts of the disc. "Together with the planets found around the young, massive stars Fomalhaut and HR8799, the existence of Beta Pictoris b suggests that super-Jupiters could be frequent byproducts of planet formation around more massive stars," explains Gael Chauvin, a member of the team.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Physics For Future Presidents

This piece discusses UC Berkeley professor Richard Muller's aptly named the Physics for Future Presidents course. Designed to illuminate and educate the leaders of our future, whomever and wherever they may be, it teaches basic physics to non-science majors.

Richard A. Muller is professor of physics at the University of California, Berkeley, and a past winner of the MacArthur Fellowship. He is the author of "Nemesis" (Weidenfeld & Nicholson) and "Physics for Future Presidents" (Norton).

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Physics and Technology for Future Presidents: What every world leader needs to know. An Introduction to the Essential Physics Every World Leader Needs to Know.

The course is dramatically different from the traditional "Physics for Poets" approach. Many people who have tried it have discovered that it is much more fun for both the students and the professor. Nothing excites a student more than the discovery that he/she is learning something important.

"Physics and Technology for Future Presidents" contains the essential physics that students need in order to understand today's core science and technology issues, and to become the next generation of world leaders. From the physics of energy to climate change, and from spy technology to quantum computers, this is the only textbook to focus on the modern physics affecting the decisions of political leaders and CEOs and, consequently, the lives of every citizen.

How practical are alternative energy sources? Can satellites really read license plates from space? What is the quantum physics behind iPods and supermarket scanners? And how much should we fear a terrorist nuke? This lively book empowers students possessing any level of scientific background with the tools they need to make informed decisions and to argue their views persuasively with anyone -- expert or otherwise.

Based on Richard Muller's renowned course at Berkeley, the book explores critical physics topics: energy and power, atoms and heat, gravity and space, nuclei and radioactivity, chain reactions and atomic bombs, electricity and magnetism, waves, light, invisible light, climate change, quantum physics, and relativity.

Muller engages readers through many intriguing examples, helpful facts to remember, a fun-to-read text, and an emphasis on real-world problems rather than mathematical computation. He includes chapter summaries, essay and discussion questions, Internet research topics, and handy tips for instructors to make the classroom experience more rewarding.

Accessible and entertaining, "Physics and Technology for Future Presidents" gives students the scientific fluency they need to become well-rounded leaders in a world driven by science and technology.


The California Academy of Sciences is a world-class scientific and cultural institution based in San Francisco. The Academy recently opened a new facility in Golden Gate Park, a 400,000 square foot structure that houses an aquarium, a planetarium a natural history museum and a 4-story rainforest all under one roof.

The mission of the California Academy of Sciences is to explore, explain and protect the natural world.